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Letter to Sam Olens, Georgia Attorney General - Reopen Deal Investigation

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Atlanta, GA

Dear Attorney General Olens:

Your office recently announced settlements with three former employees of the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission arising out of the Commission's handling of its investigation into Gov. Nathan Deal's 2010 campaign for governor (the "Deal Investigation"). Your office also decided not to appeal or otherwise contest the jury verdict that the Commission's former director was wrongfully terminated from her job for pursuing the Deal Investigation.

This means that Georgia taxpayers now owe at least $3 million for the State's alleged cover-up of the Deal Investigation.

Given these facts, I request that you appoint an independent Special Assistant Attorney General to:

(1) independently reopen and complete the original Deal Investigation given there is now ample evidence that this investigation was never completed and instead was the subject of serious tampering; and

(2) independently assess the actions of the Commission and other state employees who were responsible for the tampering and the apparently unlawful treatment of the Commission staff who participated in the Deal Investigation.

Your office must act to prevent the State's unlawful conduct from successfully covering up the subject of the Deal Investigation, and to ensure that there is no appearance of impropriety. Given the publicly available information, the allegations against Gov. Deal and his 2010 campaign were serious and far-reaching. They deserve a full investigation, which they have not yet received. A Special Assistant Attorney General will have the independence, authority and credibility needed to fully investigate these matters without appearance of bias or threat of political interference.

According to the public record, prior to being forced from her job, former commission director Stacey Kalberman presented draft subpoenas to the Commission that she and her staff believed would lead to information that was necessary to complete the Investigation. According to Ms. Kalberman, your office reviewed and approved the legal sufficiency of the subpoenas before they were submitted to the Commission. The statements justifying the subpoenas recited evidence that Gov. Deal used campaign contributions to enrich himself, his family and his friends.

Specifically, the statements drafted in support of the subpoenas state:

*"Deal received contributions that may have been in violation of the Ethics in Government Act."
*"Deal may have used state campaign funds for personal purposes, due to payments to questionable vendors."
*"Deal may have violated the Ethics in Government Act by paying excessive rates for airfare with campaign funds in order to funnel money into North Georgia Aviation, a company that he owns. Deal also may have violated the Act by failing to disclose the end recipient of these expenditures AND failing to disclose his ownership interest in the company."
*"Deal may have violated the Ethics in Government Act by repeatedly filing Personal Financial Disclosures containing false and misleading information."

Had the subpoenas been issued, the Commission would have been able to fully examine these questions by reviewing internal campaign communications, contribution and expenditure reports, campaign schedules, and contracts with campaign consultants. If there had been no wrongdoing, the governor and his campaign would have been cleared after a full investigation.

But the subpoenas were never issued. Instead, the employees who requested the information were unlawfully targeted, punished and forced from their jobs. These facts are not mere allegations. They have been proven to a jury, whose judgment your office chose not to contest. And these facts presumably form the basis for the settlements that your office approved.

According to Gov. Deal's own admission, his office played a direct role in selecting Ms. Kalberman's replacement even though the Commission was actively investigating his campaign at the time. Predictably, Holly LaBerge, Ms. Kalberman's successor, chose not to pursue the subpoenas and ultimately opted to fine Gov. Deal's campaign only $3,350 for technical defects.

Then, Ms. LaBerge reportedly boasted that Gov. Deal "owes" her because of her decision to end the full investigation, and she allegedly asked commission staff to destroy documents relating to the investigation. The Commission employees who refused to participate in this cover-up were similarly targeted and punished--and your office has decided to pay these individuals for that alleged wrongful treatment.

Given the facts in the public record, I and many others are concerned that the full Deal Investigation was never completed and tampering prevented serious allegations from being fully examined. Georgia taxpayers deserve to have the full scope of the Deal Investigation completed and to know how the apparent cover-up was set into motion.

I appreciate your continued commitment to protecting taxpayer resources and finding a just resolution to these matters. I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,

Jason Carter
Senator


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