ATLANTA — Three ethics complaints against Gov. Nathan Deal remain under investigation even though a fourth was dismissed, according to the chairman of the commission that oversees the Ethics in Government Act.
Chairman Kevin Abernathy opened the meeting Wednesday of the Georgia Government Transparency & Campaign Finance Commission by announcing that the pending investigations remain ongoing. He was responding to Tuesday’s story in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporting that the commission’s executive secretary used her authority to administratively close a case alleging the governor made an improper appointment to the commission.
“The other three are currently pending before our agency and are being worked on very diligently by our agency,” Abernathy said. “To date, the Governor’s Office and the governor’s lawyer have been extremely cooperative with us and our staff, and it’s our expectation that they will continue to be cooperative. We have the internal goal of having resolution by the end of the calendar year.”
However, he declined to offer specific information about the status of the probes.
“Rest assured that it is absolutely at the top of our priority list and it is being handled correctly, with due diligence and a deliberative fashion to make sure we have all the facts we need,” he said.
Executive Secretary Holly LaBerge said she understands the questions the public might have about the progress in the cases.
“I realize it may not be apparent to the public because, if it’s an ongoing case, we do not comment on the status of it. It may appear that nothing has been done on these cases because nothing has been presented in a commission meeting yet,” she said, adding that a commission attorney had continued to press them along with the rest of the backlog of complaints about other officeholders and candidates.
The remaining cases against Deal, one filed two years ago, stem from his 2010 campaign for governor. One alleges he overcharged his campaign for use of a plane he owned as a way to funnel donations into his pocket at a time when he had money problems. Another questions whether he improperly accepted money from donors who had exceeded their contribution limits, and the third charges he used campaign funds to pay lawyers defending him in an ethics case over his former congressional campaign.