Since becoming governor, Nathan Deal has gone from rags to riches by using taxpayer-funded staff to work on his own personal business deals behind closed doors.
At first, the governor promised no such shady business practices had taken place. Upon taking office as governor, Deal transferred his share of the company he co-owned with Ken Cronan, Gainesville Salvage, to a blind trust to avoid any conflicts of interest between his personal finances and the governor’s office.
But when it came time to sell that company in 2013, members of Deal’s staff, who are paid by taxpayers to work on issues that affect all Georgians, actively worked on Deal’s sale of Gainesville Salvage to Texas-based company Copart. In fact, Deal’s chief-of-staff Chris Riley even took time away from his official duties to micromanage Copart’s corporate press releases.
The result? Nathan Deal personally made $3.2 million from the sale, on top of a $20,000 payment from Copart to Deal and his business partner every month for the next 10 years.
What’s more concerning is that a Department of Revenue audit of Copart revealed the company that made Nathan Deal a multi-millionaire failed to pay the state of Georgia nearly $74 million in sales taxes.
To put that number in perspective, that tax revenue could:
- Hire an additional 1,480 public school teachers in Georgia
- Pay for a full ride to UGA for 3,208 students
- Fully fund Georgia’s Department of Veterans Service for nearly four years.
Deal claims his new friends at Copart “will get no preferential treatment” as the company tries to wiggle out of the massive tax bill and that “the governor’s office has no involvement with this. None at all.” But with Gov. Deal’s public staff so deeply involved in his private finances, how can we trust Nathan Deal to avoid giving a sweetheart deal to the company that made him a millionaire?