ATLANTA — Georgia’s inspector general has said Gov. Nathan Deal played no role in the departure of two top officials at the state ethics commission. But in an interview included in the state watchdog’s report, one of the former ethics officials said federal prosecutors were investigating Deal’s tax records and loans.
Sherylin Streicker’s job was eliminated as part of an overhaul at the commission. She said she and former commission executive secretary Stacey Kalberman met with prosecutors while investigating allegations of campaign finance violations against the governor, but the timing of that meeting wasn’t clear.
The report was prepared by the Office of the State Inspector General as part of its investigation into a citizen complaint claiming Deal used his influence to thwart an ethics commission review of his campaign expenditures. The report concluded there was no evidence to substantiate the complaint, and the investigation was closed last month.
Details of possible federal interest in Deal surfaced last year when the state revenue commissioner received a federal grand jury subpoena related to a 2009 meeting he had with Deal, then a congressman from north Georgia, about a state program affecting Deal’s salvage company.
The U.S. attorney’s office has said it does not comment on grand jury investigations. On Friday, a spokesman declined comment.
Deal has denied any wrongdoing. Deal’s lawyer Randy Evans said Friday that federal prosecutors had not contacted him or the governor.
“This is just a disgruntled former employee trying to cause trouble,” Evans said.
Streicker told investigators that at some point the FBI came to meet with her and Kalberman and that Kalberman mentioned the ethics panel had an ongoing investigation into Deal, according to the report.
Streicker also told investigators that she and Kalberman met with the U.S. attorney’s office, which she said was investigating “two different things involving Gov. Deal involving tax records and financial dealings with loans,” according to the report. Streicker said that office “encouraged us to go forward on campaign finance investigation” and offered the use of a forensic accountant, according to the report.
Evans said federal agencies generally tell state agencies to back off if they are already investigating. He said Deal’s tax records and loans were vetted thoroughly and that no problems surfaced.