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Nov. 6 – Republicans Have BIG Bankrolls heading into the 2018 Election Cycle: Recent Campaign Finance Reports by Local Delegation

By Lou Phelps, Dublin Business Journal

November 6, 2017 –  It’s that time of year in the world of election cycles:  one year until the November 2018 elections when candidates begin to decide whether to run for office, and for incumbents to decide whether to seek re-election.

This is considered an ‘Off Year' relative to the number of reports that elected officials must file with State Campaign Finance agencies. Starting in January 2018, candidates start to file Campaign Finance Reports every three months, or even more often, depending on the position sought.

And, it’s the time of year when political operatives in all parties start to follow who has announced they will be seeking re-election in 2018, and everyone starts to ‘follow the money.' Who is raising money?  Are they using a political consultant?  And, how much money do they have in the bank as they head into an election year?  

All elected officials must file both Campaign Finance Reports and Personal Financial Statements in Georgia, filed with the Georgia Government Campaign Finance and Transparency Commission, and open for the public’s review.  Details on current and past reports filed by all candidates are available, including the names of individuals and companies contributing more than $25.00. Info can be found at http://media.ethics.ga.gov.

The fines are stiff, and escalate rapidly, for not filing on time.   This year, 2017, is considered an ‘Off Year.’  Here’s the schedule of when reports were due and the fines for being late: 

Year

Report Name

Grace Period 
End Date

$125 Fee

Additional 
$250 Fee

Additional 
$1000 Fee

2017

January 31st - Non-Election Year

02/07/2017

02/08/2017   -   02/14/2017

02/15/2017

03/17/2017

2017

June 30th - Non-Election Year

07/10/2017

07/11/2017   -   07/14/2017

07/15/2017

08/14/2017

Elected officials at the county and municipal level also must file reports every year, but they are filed with the local County Clerk’s office versus with the State. Those reports, listing every donor, are available free of charge.  The County Clerk is also responsible for reporting to the State Commission if any candidate failed to file a report, and to collect any fees or fines that are due.  Those fines are reported on the Commission’s website, as well.  

Personal Financial Statements

All elected officials in Georgia – even at the municipal and county level -  must file a ‘Personal Financial Statement’ once a year that outlines their sources of income, assets including stocks, bank accounts, and 401K’s. They also must list property they own, and whether they received more than $10,000 from any State entity or State contract during the reported year.  Federal contracts are not required to be reported on the Georgia financial statement, under current Georgia law.  

All public officers who are not in their election year, or public officers who are members or directors of state boards, commissions, or state authorities, had to file a Personal Financial Disclosure Statement, covering 2016, between January 1 and not later than July 1, 2017.  Only one Personal Financial Disclosure Statement is required per calendar year. 

The Dublin Business Journal has reviewed all the reports filed over the last few months by the State Representatives and State Senators who represent the counties of the ‘Heart of Georgia, reported on by the DBJ. Those counties include:  Appling, Candler, Dodge, Emanuel County, Jeff Davis, Laurens, Montgomery, Tattnall, Telfair, Toombs, Treutlen, Wheeler and Wilcox.   

The majority of those filing in this Middle Georgia area did not list assets such as money in bank or stock accounts.  Anything over $5,000 is supposed to be reported.  Specifically, Section VII of the report states, “List the name of any business or subsidiary thereof or investment in which the filer (either individually or with any other legal or natural person or entity) owns a direct ownership interest that: (1) is more than 5 percent of the total interests in such business or investment, or (2) has a net fair market value of more than $5,000.00. (Do not list individual stocks and bonds that are held by mutual funds.).”  

And, most of the nine members of the local delegation have significant campaign finance accounts.

Thinking About Running for Office?

The next free webinar, entitled “Candidates Getting Started (Municipal/County)”- for those considering running for local office - will be held on Weds.  Nov. 15, 2017 from 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM, sponsored by the Campaign Finance Commission.  To register, go to https://register.gotowebinar.com/rt/2510862729608297731

Below are the latest reports filed on time – or not filed as of today– by the nine members of the General Assembly who represent all or portions of the 14 counites in the ‘Heart of Georgia’ that are covered by the Dublin Business Journal.

Reports were due by July 10, and covered the period from Jan. 31. 2017 through June 30, 2017. Also reported below is the ‘Cash on Hand’ of each campaign, and information the elected officials included on their Personal Financial Statement. Also listed is whether the Commission states that they have outstanding fees or fines – for not filing, or filing late – and the amount of fines presently due.

1.)  STATE SENATOR Lawrence Cohen “Larry” Walker III (R), SENATE DISTRICT 20.  Sen. Walker represents the citizens of Bleckley, Laurens and Pulaski counties along with most of Houston County.

  • Revenue in Period:    $13,050
  • Expenditures in Reporting Period:    $  9,644.17 
  • Cash on Hand as of June 30, 2017:   $43,878.67
  • Personal Financial Statement filed:  Director, ComSouth; Member and Management of the following companies: LaRuss Properties, LLC Real Estate Holding Company; Main and Ball USA, Inc., Real Estate Holding Company; The Twelve Eleven Company, Real Estate Holding Company; Triple Play Properties, LLC , Real Estate Development; Walker Insurance Agency, Insurance Agency. Real estate owned:  home.  No other investments or bank accounts listed.
  • Outstanding Fees or Fines:  NONE

2.)   STATE SENATOR Blake Tillery (R) GA SENATE DISTRICT 19

  • Revenue in Period:  $40,150.00
  • Expenditures in Reporting Period:  $24,215.73
  • Cash on Hand as of June 30, 2017:  $78,817.84
  • Personal Financial Statement filed:   Managing Partner, Smith & Tillery, P.C.; partner 7th Street Rentals.  Home and another property.  No information on other assets filed.
  • Outstanding Fees or Fines:   NONE

3.)  STATE SENATOR Jack Hill (R), SENATE DISTRICT 4

  • Revenue in Period:    $15,859.47
  • Expenditures in Reporting Period:   $   50,650.27
  • Cash on Hand as of June 30, 2017:  $ 104,748.67
  • Personal Financial Statement filed: Lists that he is a retired grocer.  No other income listed beyond three rental properties and two storage facilities. Residence and six other real estate properties listed. No other investments or bank accounts listed.
  • Outstanding Fees or Fines:  NONE

4.)  STATE REP.  Matt Hatchett (R), GA HOUSE DISTRICT 150  

  • Revenue in Period:  $ 42,060
  • Expenditures in Reporting Period:   $ 36,595.55
  • Cash on Hand as of June 30, 2017:  $ 41,396.34
  • Personal Financial Statement filed:  Employment: Development Officer, Mercer University; Assets listed:President, Hatchett Properties, Inc., Rental Properties; Owner,  Jamaha, LLC, Holding Company; Owner, Joki Foods, Inc., Officer/Buyer, Leasehold Property; Plum Alley, Inc., Ladies clothing retail store. Real estate listed: residence and three other properties.  Investments also include Lord Abbett Affiliated Fund, and Swainsboro Bankshares, Inc.
  • Outstanding Fees or Fines:  NONE

5.   STATE REP. Greg Morris (R), GA HOUSE DISTRICT 156

  • Revenue in Period:  $1,000.00
  • Expenditures in Reporting Period:   $ 675.00
  • Cash on Hand as of June 30, 2017:  $ 324.00
  • Personal Financial Statement filed:  He lists his employment as ‘Investments.; And, as Manager of the following:  Morrco, LLC, Real Estate Development; Gremo LLC , Investments;  Morris Commercial LLC . Real Estate Investments; Greg Morris Land Company, Real Estate Investment; Blue Gold Group, LLC , Real Estate Investment.  He lists no other stock or bank accounts.
  • Outstanding Fees or Fines: He has been fined 13 times since 2004 for filing reports late. All fines now paid.

6.    STATE REP. James A. “Bubber” Epps, Jr. (R), GA HOUSE DISTRICT 144

  • Revenue in Period:  $ 1,000.00
  • Expenditures in Reporting Period:   $ 14,947.22
  • Cash on Hand as of June 30. 2017:  $ 41,640.76
  • Personal Financial Statement filed:  Lists employment as Retired from Epps Brothers, Inc. paying contractors. His wife is listed as Owner/President. Real estate listed includes home and three lots. No stocks, bank accounts or assets are listed for him or his wife.
  • Outstanding Fees or Fines:  NONE

7.    STATE REP. Jimmy Pruett (R) GA HOUSE DISTRICT 149

  • Revenue in Period:  $0.00
  • Expenditures in Reporting Period:  $10,544.32
  • Cash on Hand as of June 30. 2017:  $40,777.54
  • Personal Financial Statement filed:  Assets listed include:  Partner, Heart of Georgia Metal Crafters, Metal Fabrication; Partner, Middle Georgia Air Conditioning Associates, Inc., Heating and Air; Partner, IPD, Inc., Rental Apartments; Partner, Bright Start, LLC, Rental Property; President Pruett Services, Inc., Real Estate; Treasurer Pruett Air Conditioning Company, Inc., Heating and Air Conditioning.  Real Estate listed included residence and 85 acres of ‘raw land.’
  • Outstanding Fees or Fines:  NONE

8.   STATE REP. Larry J. “Butch” Parrish (R) GA HOUSE DISTRICT 158

  • Revenue in Period:  $11,200
  • Expenditures in Reporting Period:  $10,715.58
  • Cash on Hand as of June 30. 2017: $75,568.71  
  • Personal Financial Statement filed: Lists himself as a retired Pharmacist.  Board member, Sec., CFO Sanpar, Inc, real estate; Board Member, stockholder Swainsboro Bankshares, bank;  Partner Main St. Development Corp; real estate partner Yam Grande LLC S.; real estate partner Ohoopee Investors LLC S; real estate President ParTap; real estate Sec., CFO, Board Member Medical Center Pharmacy Inc., pharmacy; stockholder Deer Creek Dev. Corp; real estate Stockholder Swainsboro Development Corp. Ownership of eight properties listed.  Receipt from Ga. Dept. of Community Health of $502,458.00 in 2016, and payments for services provided to medicaid recipients by State of Georgia of $17,341.68.  Also lists his Legislative salary. No other investments or bank accounts listed.
  • Outstanding Fees or Fines:  NONE

9.  STATE REP. Zell “Shaw” Blackmon III (R) GA House District 146

  • Revenue in Period:   $11,400
  • Expenditures in Reporting Period:  $5,442.17
  • Cash on Hand as of June 30. 2017: $50,201.10
  • Personal Financial Statement filed:  President and CEO National Bank Products Inc.; home and additional lot listed for real estate owned; investments in Chevron Corporation, Conoco Phillips and Honeywell International Inc. listed.
  • Outstanding Fees or Fines:  NONE 
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