Governor Perdue Has Record of Hypocrisy and Ethical Violations

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(APN) ATLANTA — Since his days as a Georgia State Senator, Governor Sonny Perdue has an established record of corruption and contempt for the law.

From flying state-owned helicopters without a license, to giving testimony under oath refuted by three others, to shady land-deals and tax loopholes, it is no wonder he is the only Georgia Governor found guilty by the State Ethics Commission.

Four years ago when Sonny Perdue was running for Governor, he declared ethics as one of his top priorities. His first Executive Order as Governor set out ethical guidelines for his staff and the entire Executive Branch.

His Vision for a New Georgia insists that leaders of state government “provide an impeccable example for others to follow.”

ETHICAL VIOLATIONS AND FINES

As an omen of things to come, while Perdue was a State Senator, he did not disclose his partnership in the Perdue Family Limited Partnership as required by law until after he became Governor, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Newspaper (AJC) reported.

Early in 2002 the State Ethics Commission forced Perdue to return $10,000 he had illegally transferred from his Senate Campaign account to his election campaign for Governor, according to The AJC.

Again, the State Ethics Commission ordered Perdue to return $18,000 in other illegal contributions made to his 2002 campaign and fined him $1,900 in 2005.

Perdue tried to have a provision added to ethics legislation that same year “that would have helped him escape punishment for this violation” according to the Georgia Democratic Party website.

QUESTIONABLE ELECTION IN 2002

“Top Diebold corporation officials ordered workers to install secret files to Georgia’s electronic voting machines shortly before the 2002 Elections, at least two whistleblowers are now asserting,” The Atlanta Progressive News recently reported. To some activists, this furthered doubts on the validity of Perdue’s election.

In 2002, Perdue ran against incumbent Governor Roy Barnes who was eleven points ahead of Perdue in the polls, Rolling Stone Magazine reports.

ILLEGAL HELICOPTER RIDES

While Governor-Elect, Perdue demanded to take control of state helicopters, even though he’s licensed to fly only fixed-wing aircraft.

The head of the Georgia State Patrol Aviation unit was demoted after he instructed subordinates not to install a second control stick in the patrol’s helicopters, as ordered by the Perdue, so the Governor could illegally pilot the aircraft, The AJC said.

The State Trooper, Mike Boyd, brought suit against Perdue in 2005 accusing the Governor of violating his civil rights.

In order to prove Perdue was involved in personnel decisions involving the State Patrol, Boyd’s attorney, Hue Henry, asked the Governor in a deposition, “And as I understand your testimony – correct me if I’m wrong – you have never requested that anyone be removed from the security detail?” according to Creative Loafing magazine (CL).

“That would be accurate,” Perdue said.

Henry asked again, “Is it true that you have not asked for any member of your security detail to be redeployed out of that detail?”

“That’s correct,” Perdue said.

In their sworn testimony for Boyd’s suit, Perdue’s Chief Operating Officer, Jim Lientz; retired Public Safety Director, Colonel George Ellis; and former chief of the governor’s security detail, Capt. Stewart Hicks, all stated the Governor had specifically asked for Hicks to be reassigned, according to CL.

On his first day as Governor, Perdue signed an Executive Order limiting gifts from lobbyists to state employees at $25.

In 2004, Perdue accepted a helicopter ride worth $2,400 to a NASCAR race at the suburban Atlanta Motor Speedway (all of thirty miles) from a Home Deport lobbyist, and first-class airfare valued at $2,776 from a AFLAC lobbyist, according to The AJC.

CURRENT LAND DEALS

In 2003, Maryson, a limited liability corporation created for Perdue by State Rep. Larry O’Neal (R-Warner Robins), Chairman of the State House Ways and Means Committee, bought Houston County property which it sold to Perdue in 2004, according to Wikipedia.

After a proposed commercial development was announced for the adjoining property, the value of Perdue’s land has doubled. The Maryson corporation was dissolved a year after the sale.

Five days after Maryson was incorporated, O’Neal formed a partnership for the Governor, Perdue Plantation LLC.

Again, Perdue illegally failed to disclose this company, according to Wikipedia.

Using the proceeds from the sale of inherited property in Georgia, Perdue spent $2.038 million in December 2004 to buy 19.5 acres of land close to Disney World from Stanley Thomas.

The Governor appointed Thomas to the Georgia Board of Economic Development a year earlier.

One of Thomas’s companies contributed $250,000 to the Georgia Republican Party.

Lots at the nearby Reunion Resort have sold for up to $650,000, indicating the Governor stands to make millions of dollars from this deal.

Yet again, Perdue illegally failed to disclose this asset, reported the Associated Press (AP).

“Perdue’s land deals mark a shift from the way previous governors have handled their personal affairs while in office. Democratic Governors Roy Barnes and Zell Miller placed their assets in blind trusts,” noted the AP.

According to an investigation by The AJC, a month after the Florida purchase, State Rep. O’Neal sponsored HB 488, a 2005 bill allowing Georgians who use monies obtained from the sale of in-state property to purchase out-of-state property to defer capital gains tax.

The bill was amended to be made retroactive to cover Perdue’s 2004 transaction by State Sen. Casey Cagle, the Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor, thereby providing Perdue with a $100,000 tax deferment.

The provision, “buried at the bottom of a 24-page bill,” was signed by Perdue on April 12, 2005.

A TELLING RADIO INTERVIEW

During a recent Perdue radio interview on The Right Side with Shelley Wynter, WAOK-AM Radio (1380), a caller by the name of Brian mentioned he was a newlywed.

Perdue: “All right. I hope you make it 34 years like we have.”

Brian: “Well, that’s my goal, Governor. The one thing I haven’t been able to do is find a way to have a friend of mine write me a bill that saves me $100,000 on my taxes. I was wondering how I might be able to get that done.”

Perdue: “Well, you get elected Governor, Brian. I appreciate your question. That was really nice. I appreciate you being a fan, and I wish you well on your honeymoon.”

ETHICS COMMISSION INTERFERENCE

Teddy Lee, Executive Secretary of the State Ethics Commission, was voted out of his job in January 2006 by other members of the commission appointed by Perdue.

“When Perdue was elected four years ago, he tried to force Lee out, but Lee refused, believing that resigning would undermine everything the Commission represented: ethical, transparent and honest government,” an AJC editorial says.

“Because Lee treated Democrats and Republicans alike and could not be denounced as partisan, Perdue had to plot his ouster in the shadows so the decision appeared to come from the Commission alone,” The AJC continued.

On September 20, 2006, Michael Memberg, a Mercer University law student, filed an ethics complaint against Perdue, citing AJC articles regarding the Governor’s failure to disclose his properties on his financial disclosure reports.

“It seems to me from the articles Gov. Perdue has failed to give a fully accurate list of his financial positions on almost all of his financial disclosure reports since at least 1998. I think this needs to be investigated,” Memberg told the AP.

“I want some sort of factual determination of whether or not there is an ethics violation. If there were not disclosure on this, are there any other omission or false disclosures?” Memberg asked The AJC.

“It appears as though Governor Perdue sold his office to make himself wealthy. If so, he has committed a crime and should be going to prison,” Bobby Kahn, Chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia said on their website.

His official biography states Perdue is “a dedicated church leader” and Sunday school teacher. His actions say Perdue is just another religious hypocrite. If past behavior is the best predictor of the future, then Georgians can vote themselves another four years of crony capitalism and government corruption.

About the author:

Betty Clermont is a Senior Staff Writer for Atlanta Progressive News. He may be reached at betty@atlantaprogressivenews.com

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This article may be reprinted in full at no cost where Atlanta Progressive News is credited.

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