“I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.” – Sir Winston Churchill
Former Georgia House Speaker Glenn Richardson has a secret once valued at nearly $220,000. Inquiring minds would like to know what happened to the money from his PAC. As Jim Walls over at Atlanta Unfiltered wrote:
Richardson closed out his campaign account when he resigned in December 2009, transferring $219,915 to the MMV Alliance Fund, a political action committee that he controls. He had to pay a $500 fine because MMV had not been granted a federal tax exemption (and therefore was not yet considered a charity) when he moved the money.
According to the Atlanta Unfiltered story, Richardson states that between $100,000 and $110,000 is left. As to the remainder, Richardson cites his own attorney, stating nothing has yet been done that requires filing with either state or federal authorities.
As discussed here on Peach Pundit, Richardson is seeking a Georgia Senate position in an upcoming special election caused when Georgia Senator Bill Hamrick was appointed to a judgeship.
With one hundred thousand dollars seed money and a bevy of old, moneyed interests on speed dial, Richardson cannot be ignored. That kind of money and access can buy a lot of political ads begging forgiveness.
Now that Richardson has made the questionable decision to re-enter the political arena, he has again found the spotlight. His actions beg questions; however, and answers will be sought.
As for where the money has gone and where the remainder will go, let’s consult Sir Winston and update his quote: I cannot forecast to you the action of Speaker Richardson. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Glenn Richardson’s personal interest.
No rules apply to spending by ex-speaker’s political fund
Ethics agency probing ex-speaker’s $220K fund transfer
A lot of water cooler talk around the capitol centers around HB1380. It’s a somewhat obscure bill, designed, in theory, to pad Georgia’s pension accounts by purchasing life insurance policies on every single State Of Georgia employee.
One person who appears to have taken a personal interest in this bill is none other than former Speaker Glenn Richardson. I say “personal interest” because the lobbyists who have mentioned this to me didn’t see him wearing the required lobbyist badge that they are required to wear at the capitol when they register.
Those same lobbyists and a couple of legislators have also commented to me that the premium from such sales would be better than hitting Powerball (GA Lottery Corps newest bi-weekly game. Buy your tickets for drawings every Wednesday and Saturday and fund the dwindling Hope fund and ensure the board of regents never cuts a budget.)
One capitol insider even went so far to tell me they overheard a legislator say that he would give up his legislative career if he could have that contract.
Rahm Emmanuel’s mantra is never waste a good crisis. GA is trying to figure its way out of the worst budget issues since Reconstruction. We’ve got a bonified budget crisis.
And when I see the names of Burkhalter and Harbin attached to a bill, and hear that there is a personal interest from former Speaker Richardson – all men who have brought shame to themselves and to the House of Representatives – I don’t care to look any further. I don’t want these folks solving this crisis, for fear that they are just making sure they aren’t wasting it.
Kill HB 1380. Please use any time you would have used debating it putting together a real ethics reform package. Preferably one that makes legislators sleeping with lobbyists specifically against the rules of the general assembly.
Possibly, according to Atlanta Unfiltered.
As we’ve previously noted, just before the New Year on Glenn Richardson’s last day as Speaker of the Georgia House, he moved the remaining $219,915 in his re-election bank account to the MMV Alliance Fund. The fund filed its 2010 registration on December 30 naming Richardson as its new chairman. This meant that he could use the remaining funds for whatever purpose he wanted, without consequence. At least, that’s what we thought.
One potential problem: MMV does not appear to be among the organizations that may legally accept unused campaign contributions. Under Georgia law, political campaigns may give excess funds to IRS-recognized charities; educational, philanthropic and non-profit organizations; other candidates; or political parties.
MMV, a political action committee created in 2004, is none of those. It is not registered as a corporation in Georgia, non-profit or otherwise; a spokesman for the Georgia Secretary of State said late Thursday that the agency had received no request from MMV to register as a corporation. Nor does the committee show up in the IRS’s searchable database of tax-exempt groups.
But how does this differ from what has been noted concerning PerduePAC?
Gov. Sonny Perdue, barred by law from seeking a third term this year, did much the same as Richardson a few years ago, when he transferred a little over $787,000 from his campaign account to PerduePAC. A key difference: the governor registered PerduePAC as a non-profit corporation first.
Perdue had asked the Ethics Commission in early 2007 whether campaign money could be transferred to a non-profit with “PAC” in its name.
On April 5, 2007, the commission said yes. On May 30, PerduePAC filed papers to register as a non-profit. On June 4, the governor’s campaign transferred the $787,000.
Glenn, give us a shout out on the ‘ol Tip Line and feel free to explain how this is just so, so wrong.
As Doug Richards at 11Alive is reporting this evening, fresh from the explanation concerning work State Representative Larry O’Neal (pictured, left) did as Governor Sonny Perdue’s personal attorney and later with revisions to the tax code as a legislator, comes information that O’Neal also has helped friends of Speaker Glenn Richardson.
On January 19, 2007, O’Neal (as a private attorney) filed papers with the Georgia Secretary of State’s office to establish the organization and corporation of MMV Consulting, LLC. As the paperwork filed with the Secretary of State’s office shows, MMV Consulting, LLC was the lobbying firm of Jarrell “Jay” Walker, Jr. (pictured, right), who was Speaker Richardson’s first Chief of Staff and later, obviously, a lobbyist. Indeed, Walker registered as a lobbyist with the the State Ethics Commission just five days later, on January 25, 2007. Walker, it should be noted, is no longer a registered lobbyist.
It is important to note that there is absolutely no suggestion, belief, or even hint of any illegality or that O’Neal was paid for this work. He very easily could have simply been helping out a young man establish his business with the Secretary of State’s office. But some are asking this evening just how much of an independent, free spirit a “Speaker Larry O’Neal” would be when he has such layered connections to the proverbial “Old Guard.”
FOX5’s Dale Russell is reporting this evening on the relationship between Glenn Richardson and lobbyist Raymon White (pictured) in e-mails where the two discuss how and when the former can meet the female lobbyist who he was having an affair with. Russell also noted the many times White filed disclosure reports on meals he bought for Richardson, but failed to disclose who was at the meals and what specific client was paying for White’s lobbying services.
This week, disgraced Speaker of the Georgia House Glenn Richardson will earn $2,064.23 for doing nothing. He is still the State Representative from Paulding County and couldn’t even be bothered to attend the majority caucus meeting this last week. And no one currently in leadership seems to have a problem with that.
Majority Leader Jerry Keen is fine with it. Speaker Pro Tempore Mark Burkhalter, reporting in from his undisclosed and secure underground bunker, is fine with it. Ways and Means Chairman Larry ‘live and let live’ O’Neal is fine with it.
So how can an O’Neal / Keen leadership team be the cool, refreshing breeze of “new leadership” that people like Rep. Allen Peake seem to be frothing with anticipation to vote in if they can’t even speak up about the necessity for an immediate Richardson departure?
As increasing numbers realize, it can’t.
Thus, I again point to the Lunsford Stratagem as a simple and elegant solution to aid Republicans in their efforts to emerge from their morass.
The caucus should support his plan as it would permit a true “clean slate” approach with regard to Republican leadership. Because unless Bill Hembree or David Ralston succeed in their bids for Speaker, an O’Neal / Keen team (the latter, pictured right) shows no evidence of change beyond a simple switching out of nameplates at certain desks.
Furthermore, how is not forcing the Majority Leader seat to a vote smart? Keeping someone like Keen, a man who, a quick review of lobbyist contribution reports from the State Ethics Commission show has certainly been the recipient of many “gifts” over the last five years, is merely a maintenance of the status quo.
There is no “do over” with this situation and headlines like “Will Gold Dome turmoil cost the GOP?” in the AJC are not being pulled out of thin air and fabricated. A genuine electoral danger exists and majority caucus members should be prepared to reap the consequences unless they bring forth real change with a completely new leadership slate.
Of those I’ve spoken with concerning today’s meeting of the Republican caucus, two used the same phrase to describe the state of affairs: “badly fractured.” Efforts by some, including John Lunsford (pictured, left), to petition for a new election for all leadership positions that the caucus wanted to take action on, as we mentioned yesterday, did not succeed…yet. Part of Lunsford’s problem is the method by which he solicited signatures. He remains, according to several reports, between 10 and 15 signatures away from being able to pursue elections for a wider swath of positions. As Buzz Brockway noted, Lunsford’s work (this time more one-on-one) will continue through the weekend.
What is most curious is that a goodly number of caucus members at first perceived the stratagem by Lunsford as merely opportunistic and self-serving. That is, until Majority Leader Jerry Keen (pictured, right) spoke. While specifics continue to surface, some have suggested that Keen’s speech skipped over the inconvenient fact that he has been at the epicenter of leadership dysfunction for the last five years.
Keen is a man who, a quick review of lobbyist contribution reports from the State Ethics Commission show, has certainly been the recipient of many “gifts” over the last five years he has been Majority Leader. He also is a man who surely knew about events ongoing with regard to Speaker Richardson. Indeed, Larry O’Neal has stated publicly he knew about the shenanigans for a significant period of time. Either O’Neal knew something Keen didn’t (which shows Keen is an ineffective leader) or Keen did know about Richardson’s problems and allowed them to fester. It is the latter which is the obvious answer and shows a tolerance for improper behavior that can no longer be allowed to stand in the leadership of the Republican caucus.
There is good reason why every front page poster on Peach Pundit believes that Jerry Keen must go. Caucus leadership is not a right, it is a privilege. And if the confidence and faith the caucus has in its own leadership, and by extension itself, is “badly fractured,” then it is time for those responsible to step aside and allow the necessary corrective action to be taken.
Members of the Republican caucus would be well served to speak with Lunsford this weekend and also with as many of their counterparts as possible. As I’ve said before, there will only be one shot at fixing this mess. This is a time for new leadership and for the end of Keen’s. A clean sweep is the only remedy for what ails the caucus and these coming days will be telling if genuine reform will succeed.
The Beacon Newspaper, which covers North Fulton, home of Speaker Pro-Tem Mark Burkhalter reports this:
Sources close to both men say that Richardson is now coming to realize the inevitable: he can’t legitimately or viably serve his GOP House colleagues in a meaningful way come January 2010. One high ranking Republican official said the decision may not be his to make.
If Richardson resigns his leadership post as House Speaker, the Georgia Constitution mandates that the Speaker Pro-Tem, Burkhalter, would become Speaker immediately.
That scenario may play out by week’s end.