Well, Roy Barnes must have had a good time watching the Republican gubernatorial debate last Sunday.
The WAGA-TV sponsored debate had all four Republican front-runners defending themselves on their ethics allegations. You know you’re in trouble if when choosing your candidate you have to pick one who’s facing slightly fewer ethical accusations …
The State Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine is under investigation by the State Ethics Commission for his campaign contributions from 2008. He’s also fighting new allegations that he was under investigation in the mid 1990s for pressuring insurance execs to hire attorneys who supported his campaign financially.
Oxendine of course denied all the allegations and instead accused his opponents of trying to knock down the front-runner by spreading lies. Oxendine’s investigation is still pending, and the one in the 1990s never proved he did anything wrong.
Nathan Deal, former U.S. congressman, was found guilty by the Office of Congressional Ethics of violating House ethics rules by “using congressional resources to influence Georgia state officials for his personal financial benefit.” He quit U.S. Congress before the investigation was finished and is now out of their jurisdiction. However, the State Ethics Commission is now investigating his use of campaign funds to pay legal fees to defend himself in the federal probe. (click here for a full report on Deal’s ethics investigation)
Deal also blamed all the ethical hoopla around him on his candidacy:” Not until I was running for governor did anyone suggest anything of this nature,” he said during the debate.
Eric Johnson, former state senator, is accused of not disclosing over “$280,000 in taxpayer money paid to his Savannah architecture firm at a time when he was required to do so.” Click here for full story.
Johnson, who chaired the state Senate Ethics Commission, is also defending himself on handling the issue of ethics allegations against Speaker Glenn Richardson, which Johnson dismissed. If we knew then what we knew now we would have gone after Speaker Richardson,” Johnson said.
Karen Handel has the least to worry about in the ethics department, although a little honesty would have been useful in her situation. Her biggest ethics problem is that she and/or her campaign people couldn’t figure out whether she did or did not write a check to the Log Cabin Republicans (LCR).
At first an allegation surfaced that she was a member of the organization, which she denied. Now the issue of a check is the controversy. Her spokesperson said Handel never wrote a check to support the LCR, while Handel herself admitted during the debate that she did indeed write and sent the check as “sponsorship.”
Have they all in Handel camp agreed on the same story and admitted it right away, we would not be talking about it right now. Handel would have walked away from this situation much stronger had she right away stated she supported the very much conservative organization.
The Log Cabin Republicans is a national gay and lesbian grassroots organization and many conservative leaders have supported and given speeches to the group. Perhaps out of fear of being rejected by the more traditional conservatives in Georgia, she wanted to hide her involvement.
Humorously enough, all the candidates stated at the debate that they support tougher ethics laws.
Georgia primary elections take place on July 20.