All posts tagged: corruption

Bill Campbell said what?

@andishehnouraee andishehnouraee At @AtlantaMagazine Atlanta mayors forum, Campbell says he left city better than he found it. 13 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone I messaged Andisheh late last night. What follows is a dramatization of our e-mail exchangin’. “Did he really say that?” He did. “Really?” Yep. “No.” Yes. “Bill Campbell, right?  As in the Mayor Bill Campbell who was indicted on racketeering and bribery and convicted on tax evasion?” The very same. “Really.” Really.  

Grifters never change (cont’d)

First came the kickbacks. Now, the patronage. Gov. Nathan Deal’s choice to be the state’s mental health ombudsman is dating the governor’s chief spokesman and was chosen without following procedures outlined in state law, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned. Deal named Corinna Magelund to the position earlier this month at a salary $25,000 above what her predecessor made, while also giving Magelund more responsibility. Magelund, who previously served as then-Gov. Sonny Perdue’s scheduler, does not have direct hands-on experience in mental health. Deal’s office said she was not hired because of her relationship with Brian Robinson, Deal’s deputy chief of staff for communications, but for her experience in state government. You were warned. Related articles Deal ditches hiring rules in appointing spokesman’s girlfriend (

Quid pro crock

AT&T is lining up support for its acquisition of T-Mobile from a slew of liberal groups with no obvious interest in telecom deals — except that they’ve received big piles of AT&T’s cash. In recent weeks, the NAACP, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the National Education Association have each issued public statements in support of the deal. The groups all say their public positions have nothing to do with the money they received from AT&T. And AT&T says it supports nonprofit groups because it’s the right thing to do — and not because of any quid pro quo. Sure. The fallout has begun, as GLAAD’s president resigned Friday. Unfortunately, the irrelevant organization he led remains. Related articles Look Who’s Supporting AT&T’s Deal ( From GLAAD to Worse (

Faith, freedom and a sleazeball

Four years ago he couldn’t get elected lieutenant governor in his home state. Now Ralph Reed has re-emerged as a GOP power broker, attracting every Republican presidential candidate — except Newt — to his catchphrase-heavy Faith and Freedom Coalition conference. Let’s review his e-mails with convicted influence peddler Jack Abramoff. Among those e-mails was one from Reed to Abramoff in late 1998: “I need to start humping in corporate accounts! . . . I’m counting on you to help me with some contacts.” Within months, Abramoff hired him to lobby on behalf of the Mississippi Band of Choctaws, who were seeking to prevent competitors from setting up facilities in nearby Alabama. In 1999, Reed e-mailed Abramoff after submitting a bill for $120,000 and warning that he would need as much as $300,000 more: “We are opening the bomb bays and holding nothing back.” In 2004, when the casino payments to Reed were disclosed, Reed issued a statement declaring “no direct knowledge of their [Abramoff’s law firm’s] clients or interests.” In 2005, however, Senate investigators released …

Donate to Sarah Palin’s vacay fund

Sarah Palin or no — does anyone really think this is a system worth defending? The trip appears to be part vacation, part political rally and part reality show. Fuel, lodging and other expenses are being paid for by SarahPAC, Palin’s political committee, which is also soliciting donations online in connection with the journey. “You can show your support for the Fundamental Restoration of America and the ‘One Nation Tour’ by making a generous donation to SarahPAC today,” reads a message on the SarahPAC Web site. The arrangement is perfectly legal, campaign-finance experts say. SarahPAC is set up as an unconnected PAC, meaning that the usual restrictions on candidate committees don’t apply. Regular candidate committees, for example, are barred from converting campaign money to personal use. As a result, unless Palin decides to formally explore a possible presidential run, she is free to spend the money raised by SarahPAC for “any lawful purpose” under federal law, experts said. That means it doesn’t matter whether the trip is a holiday, a political event or something in …

What’s changed in 60 years

How does a college professor obtain a $500,000 line of credit at Tiffany’s? Or a local sportscaster and her commercial fisherman husband afford a $1.7 million second home? It wouldn’t have happened without their political careers. We’ve come to accept the public servant as millionaire, despite the example of Harry Truman. When he retired from office in 1952 his income was a U.S. Army pension reported to have been $13,507.72 a year. Congress, noting that he was paying for his stamps and personally licking them, granted him an “allowance” and, later, a retroactive pension of $25,000 per year. As president he paid for all of his own travel expenses and food. When offered corporate positions at large salaries, he declined, stating, “You don’t want me. You want the office of the President, and that doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to the American people and it’s not for sale.” I don’t begrudge anyone getting rich. But wealth is not always an option You enter fields like journalism, education and politics knowing they are not lucrative …

Q: Who’s the only person to profit from Sonny’s rule over Georgia?

A: Sonny Making money was Gov. H. Dumpty’s prime objective, and on that he delivered. He tripled his wealth while in office. Don’t say you weren’t informed. The local organ has doggedly reported on Sonny’s unethical conduct while governor, but no one seemed to care. Perdue ran his mid-Georgia grain and trucking businesses throughout his eight years in office, refusing to put his assets into a blind trust like previous governors. During his second term, according to documents obtained last fall by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Perdue and his companies’ employees repeatedly tapped the expertise of state workers at the Georgia Ports Authority and the departments of economic development and agriculture. And now … Perdue is parlaying business information gleaned, and contacts made, during two terms in office into a new company called Perdue Partners. The firm, incorporated March 22, will be “an Atlanta-based global trading company that facilitates U.S. commerce, with an emphasis on the export of U.S. goods and services through trading, partnerships, consulting services, and strategic acquisitions,” according to its under-construction website. A …

Why people hate corporate America

Transocean Ltd. gave its top executives bonuses for achieving the “best year in safety performance in our company’s history” — despite the explosion of its oil rig that killed 11 people, including nine of its own employees, and spilled 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

John Oxendine’s star power

In his last full day in office, Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine issued himself several licenses to sell insurance and adjust claims, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned. Oxendine did not take the mandated classes or licensing tests, using his authority as insurance commissioner to waive requirements for himself that apply to other Georgians seeking to sell insurance. Grossly inappropriate, at best, but that’s Oxendine. His rationale is almost as bad.   He also said he decided against taking the tests because he worried his presence would be a distraction to other test takers.”We didn’t want to close down a testing center,” he said. “I didn’t want anyone getting a bad grade and saying the insurance commissioner was sitting next to them distracting them.” Stars don’t come much brighter than John Oxendine. Related Articles Oxendine’s actions assailed (

Dancing with the felons

It doesn’t happen much, so when a public official is held accountable for their misdeeds, we should cheer. Republicans would be wise to abandon Tom DeLay, an oily charlatan with no remorse and even less regard for clean democracy. He’ll spend the next three years in prison, barring a successful appeal. Related Articles DeLay sentenced to three years behind bars ( Tom DeLay Says He Committed No Crime, ‘Can’t Be Remorseful’ (

Pointless year in review presents … 2010’s most corrupt politician

Are Georgians better off than they were 8 years ago? Only if they’re named Sonny Perdue. There’s a reason the governor refused to place his financial interests in a blind trust, bucking tradition. By the end of his first term, Perdue’s holdings had increased by more than one-third. You can bet his second term will prove more profitable. Earlier this year we learned the governor personally intervened in a state Department of Transportation project involving a road that goes through his hometown and runs along land Perdue owns. A spokesman for Perdue did not dispute that Perdue would benefit, like most citizens, from the overall road project but not from the shift in the alignment. He saved his most audacious chicanery for last. On Wednesday, the Board of Natural Resources agreed to pay $28.7 million for 10,015 acres of Oaky Woods wilderness in middle Georgia. Six years ago, the price was roughly the same — for the entire 20,000-acre tract. By passing on the property in 2004, over the protests of environmentalists, the state allowed …

Not race, but time

It’s mere coincidence that ethically challenged House members Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters are black (or Democrats, for that matter). But combined they have spent 58 years in Congress. No coincidence there. Two years ago Nancy Pelosi claimed she’d “drain the swamp.” Republicans will say the same thing if they retake Congress in 2010. It’ll never happen. Term limits aren’t the solution, but they wouldn’t hurt. The longer one stays in Congress, the more likely they are to abuse the institution’s flimsy ethical standards. You gotta have influence to peddle it.