Gov. Nathan Deal may have broken Georgia law by paying himself and his family members from his campaign funds and later covering up the paper trail, but Georgia’s Attorney General has decided not to even look at the evidence.
On Friday, just before 5 p.m., Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens declined a request to investigate Gov. Nathan Deal’s cover-up of campaign finance records.
This letter signals the death knell for all hope that our one-party state government could fairly and transparently investigate Gov. Deal.
While it’s true that Georgia’s state auditor still has an open investigation, it’s also true that the state auditor was appointed by Gov. Deal and has limited the scope of his investigation to personnel issues.
Now that our state government has proven to be incapable of reviewing Gov. Deal’s campaign finance documents or investigating the cover-up, there are just two remedies left:
The Feds — The U.S. Attorney’s office has an open investigation into Gov. Deal’s campaign finance documents. As Attorney General Olens acknowledged, “the federal government has issued subpoenas” and is presumably still working on an open investigation. The most likely next step for the U.S. Attorney’s office — short of an indictment — would be to issue a target letter to Gov. Deal’s office and to subpoena the governor’s financial records.
Voters — On Nov. 4, 2014, voters will go to the ballot box and decide the fate of Gov. Deal.
The current situation is the direct result of a state government ruled by just one political party.
With Republicans holding every statewide office and a supermajority of the General Assembly, there are simply no state-based checks and balances remaining.
This is what one-party rule looks like.
But we have reasons to believe voters have had enough and that corruption may finally be rooted out.
In May, voters rejected powerful Senate Rules Chairman Don Balfour after Attorney General Olens failed to convict him of numerous charges that, as a lawmaker, he improperly billed the state for travel expenses.
Even without a jury’s conviction, voters kicked Sen. Balfour out of office. The rebellion against corrupt leaders was led by Georgia’s Tea Party Patriots.
And just last week, the state bar association asked the state Supreme Court to appoint a special investigator to put Georgia House Speaker David Ralston’s unethical behavior on trial.
Finally, in Gov. Deal’s case, a jury awarded more than $1 million in damages to the ethics chief who was fired for investigating the governor. The state had no defense in three other cases with similar charges and decided to settle all three without even going to trial.
The taxpayers’ total bill for covering up Gov. Deal’s campaign finances so far is more than $3 million.
Now that Attorney General Olens has said he’s going to watch from the sidelines and refused to investigate the governor, the U.S. Attorney’s office has a clear obligation to Georgia taxpayers to finish the open investigation and to fully explain whether Gov. Deal illegally paid himself and his family with campaign cash.
And now that our state government has proven to be a breeding ground for corruption when run by a single political party, Georgia voters have a clear obligation to vote against a governor who has been under investigation every single day he has been in office.