In 2011 the Office of Congressional Ethics stated that recently retired Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) was guilty of fighting for legislation that financially benefits his family’s salvage business. Deal resigned to avoid the House Ethics Committee taking disciplinary action against him. He opted instead to run for Governor of Georgia. He won that race, but the the state of Georgia has been the loser as they have been dealing with his ethical violations since his election.
Former state employees have now filed and won lawsuits as a result of Deal’s ethics investigations. They lost their jobs as part of the state investigation, and are now claiming they are whistle-blowers. The courts agree and have awarded them accordingly. Stacey Kalberman was awarded $1.5 million, Sherilyn Streiker was awarded $1 million, John Hair was awarded $410,000, and Elisabeth Murray-Obertein was awarded $477,500. Holly LaBerge was hand selected to take over as executive secretary of the Georgia ethics commission and as such she took over the investigation. She removed and destroyed documents as part of her investigation and bragged that the governor “owes” her because she “made this go away.” Her actions and the behavior of the Governor have gotten the attention of the FBI. It has been uncovered and verified that LaBerge was having private meetings with Deal and staff as part of her investigation. This is highly improper and all meetings with an investigating body and those public officials should be part of the public record. Many of those involved are cooperating with the FBI. Deal had his own people investigate his actions and his people declared his actions were within the law. He cleared himself of any wrongdoing. If this sounds familiar, it should because Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) is having similar, but higher profile legal issues. Governor Deal is not alone. This is all old news that dates back to 2010 and 2011 and might not be getting as much attention but for the fact it is an election year.
Jason Carter is trying to fully take advantage of this issue. He is using it as a campaign issue. Every public comment is about ethics. Every public comment is calling for an independent investigation. Expect to hear more and more about ethics as we get closer and closer to November. Will it resonate with the voters? Well, it didn’t resonate with the voters when Deal was elected Governor. Running a positive campaign comparing and contrasting himself to Deal might be a better strategy for Carter. Let outside groups do the negative campaigning.