Campaign paid $135K to lease aircrafts from company Deal co-owns
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
By Aaron Gould Sheinin
September 26, 2010
Nathan Deal’s campaign for governor has paid a company in which the Republican nominee is a part owner more than $135,000 to lease aircraft — many times more than any other candidate for governor in this campaign cycle. Since its launch in May 2009, Deal’s campaign has paid $6,000 a month for access to an airplane and a helicopter, as well as additional thousands of dollars a month in actual flight costs. Deal’s Democratic opponent, Roy Barnes, has paid about $16,000 for aviation services since July 1, 2009. Deal’s former rival for the GOP nomination, Karen Handel, paid $6,325.40 in airfare in 2010.
State ethics laws bar candidates from using campaign money for personal benefit. It is unclear whether Deal personally benefited from the money paid to his company. Chris Riley, Deal’s campaign manager and pilot, said neither Deal, his campaign nor his private company are making money from the arrangement. The campaign, Riley said, sought an attorney’s opinion “to be sure we are appropriately and correctly abiding by the state ethical guidelines. However, we are more than willing to submit and ask for an advisory opinion [from the Ethics Commission].” The campaign would not say whether it actually would seek the opinion.Deal’s campaign pays North Georgia Aviation, a company the former congressman co-owns with a business partner, Ken Cronan. The company does not own an airplane or a helicopter. Instead, North Georgia Aviation is the partial owner of two companies that own a helicopter and an airplane that ferry Deal to campaign stops throughout the state. The payments to North Georgia Aviation are recorded on his campaign finance reports as the “fixed cost” for aviation or for “operating costs” for aircraft. North Georgia Aviation is a subsidiary of Gainesville Salvage & Disposal, which Deal co-owns with Cronan…
Nathan Deal’s steady career leads to GOP bid
By: SHANNON McCAFFREY and RAY HENRY
ATLANTA — Nathan Deal has been building the resume to run for governor his whole life… Then came a series of financial stumbles.
Deal and his wife face a Feb. 1 deadline to repay $2.3 million in loans that they guaranteed for their daughter and son-in-law’s failed store. Deal has tried to sell his Gainesville home along with other property and recently said he will liquidate a retirement account to help repay his debts. He also amended his financial disclosure forms after facing questions from AP about why he did not disclose $2.85 million in business loans. Government watchdog groups said those liabilities should have been disclosed. Deal called the omission an oversight.
He tries to strike an everyman tone when talking about money woes. "I am real. I’m like other Georgians. I face these same challenges. Like other Georgians, we’re going to be responsible," Deal said at a hastily called news conference this month to discuss his finances. "We’re going to stand by our children"…
Before his financial trouble was disclosed, it was Deal’s auto salvage business in Gainesville that put him on the defensive, forcing him to answer questions about his ethics. Earlier this year, the Office of Congressional Ethics found Deal may have violated House ethics rules by using his position to lobby state officials on behalf of the auto salvage company, which at the time had a lucrative state contract. The office recommended the House Committee on Standards investigate. Before the panel could decide whether to take up the matter, Deal resigned from Congress to run for governor…Deal once pledged to serve six terms and retire in 2004 but changed his mind, arguing the district would benefit from his experience — a theme he frequently returns to on the campaign trail. "Life experiences are what people look at," said Deal, who quickly ticked off his resume as a prosecutor, parent, judge, deacon and lawmaker. "I think all of those coupled together, I think, reach the one conclusion — that is, I’m qualified."