Deal disclosure again faces questions

New questions arise on candidates payment of taxes
Nathan Deal

ATLANTA - When Republican gubernatorial candidate Nathan Deal amended his campaign disclosure form last week, he added some business properties to his asset column and increased the value of another property - boosting his net worth.

Now, questions are being raised about whether the correct property values were used.

The head of the state Ethics Commission, Stacey Kalberman, said Monday that candidates are required to use the assessed value set by county tax officials. Deal's camp used a higher appraised value.

Last week, Deal listed his half ownership in a Metter, Ga.-based property owned by his Gainesville auto salvage business at $300,000, saying the entire 37.7-acre property in Candler County was worth $600,000. But local tax records show the overall property was valued by county officials as about $304,000.

Deal also listed his half ownership on business property in Gainesville as worth about $2.5 million, with the entire property worth just over $5 million. Again, local tax records value it as almost half. They show the total value for the three parcels of property which make up the salvage site is $1.2 million.

On Monday, Deal's campaign referred questions to Tifton, Ga.-based accountant, Jimmy Allen, who said he believes the higher values are correct.

"I'm going to stand by the way I filed the form at this point," Allen said.

Emil Runge, a spokesman for Deal's Democratic opponent Roy Barnes, said his candidate used the most recent local tax assessment to value his property on his disclosure.

The higher values have helped boost Deal's net worth, which is listed in the latest form at $2.8 million despite facing questions about his financial solvency.

Deal's campaign filed a revised form with state ethics officials on Thursday, the second time in a week they had changed the document which provides the public with a look at candidates' liabilities and assets. The Deal campaign acknowledged mistakes in the earlier versions and suggested that after 18 years of filing federal disclosures when Deal was a congressman they were not used to the state requirements.

Deal's finances have been under scrutiny for several weeks after word that he is facing a Feb. 1 deadline to repay a $2.3 million loan for a failed sporting goods venture launched by his daughter and son-in-law. He also failed to disclose $2.85 million in business loans on the initial form.

Allen has maintained Deal is solvent and is liquidating an IRA to help pay the debt.

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