After a $700,000 verdict on Friday and with two more similar trials coming up, Gov. Nathan Deal continues to hide financial records from his 2010 campaign.
Even with the FBI investigating how Georgia’s ethics commission handled those financial documents, the governor’s 2010 campaign finances may not be the governor’s ugliest secret.
The governor is also hiding details about a recent business transaction. The records should be discoverable with a simple public records request but Better Georgia has been hit with a $4 million bill and an 8-month wait to even see the records.
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Before taking office, Governor-elect Deal appointed Douglas Macginnitie to run the Georgia Department of Revenue.
And almost immediately, the governor’s political appointee at the Department of Revenue opened up an investigation into one of Gov. Deal’s personal business competitors: Copart, Inc.
Before summer was out — less than seven months after Gov. Deal took office — the DOR hit the governor’s personal business competitor with a $74 million tax bill.
Next, Gov. Deal sold his failing auto salvage business to Copart. At the time of the business deal, Gainesville Salvage was reported to be about $2 million in debt but the governor sold it for just over $11 million.
Better Georgia believes Georgia taxpayers deserve to know why an audit into one of the governor’s competitors started just after he took office and how changes to Georgia’s auto tax laws may have positively impacted Gainesville Salvage and the governor’s new tenant, Copart, Inc.
But when we asked to review the public records using Georgia’s Open Records Request Act, the Department of Revenue delayed for 163 days before responding. Once the department finally gave us a response, they said it would cost nearly $4 million and 8 more months to go any further.
We’re not alone. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last week that the newspaper was also cited “astronomic prices” for viewing public records about Gov. Deal’s relationship with Copart.
Better Georgia doesn’t know why the governor’s top competitor was hit with a $74 million tax bill before it bought the governor’s failing business.
But we do know that Gov. Deal and his political appointee don’t want us to find out.
As for that $74 million Copart owes the state in back taxes, Gov. Deal says he’s not responsible for collecting it.
The payment is now 3 years late.