Analysis: Questions stalk McLeod campaign donors

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Sometimes questions lead not to answers but just more questions.

McLeod  File
File
McLeod

Consider Brittany Best, an executive assistant with Mullins Management in Evans.

Official records show Best, 24, has only voted once and never donated to a federal or state-level campaign in Georgia. Until this year, that is.

Her boss, Joe Mullins, is big backer of Republican Wright McLeod, an Augusta attorney seeking to oust Democratic U.S. Rep. John Barrow.

Last Nov. 10, the 12th Congressional District hopeful’s campaign finance disclosure shows, Mullins gave $2,500 — the most the law allows. Joann Mullins, for whom McLeod’s campaign listed the same address as Joe, also gave $2,500.

Near the end of the most recent campaign finance reporting period, McLeod said, he called key allies — among them possibly Mullins. McLeod wanted to post strong totals for the quarter.

“You want to raise as much as you can as soon as you can,” he said. “It’s like cramming for an exam.”

He said he doesn’t recall calling Mullins, but added, “It sounds like something I’d be doing.”

If it was, Mullins was “maxed out,” so the only legal way he could help would be to get someone else to donate.

Back to Best. Until recently employed at the local Pizza Joint in addition to working for Mullins, she apparently isn’t wealthy.

But records show that on March 30 — the day before the end of the reporting period — she, too, gave McLeod $2,500.

On the same day, so did Heather Fehr, also an executive assistant to Mullins. Like Best, Fehr had never before donated to a federal campaign.

Fehr didn’t return three phone calls, but I reached Best, who said she was “very uncomfortable” discussing her donation.

Best confirmed she wrote a $2,500 check to the campaign and said she recalled a discussion at work with Mullins and Fehr about the McLeod campaign. She also said she knew Fehr gave to McLeod the same day she did.

Asked whether Mullins suggested she contribute, she didn’t answer directly. Asked again, she said she wasn’t sure what I meant by “suggested.”

“I wasn’t forced,” she said without further prompting.

Records show McLeod’s done at least some work with Mullins’ company, and Best said she’s met him “quite a few” times through such dealings.

“He seems like a great guy and like somebody I want to support,” she said, adding that McLeod “plays a big part in our business.”

But Best said she’d never been to a McLeod campaign event. Nor could she describe any of his views or proposals that she likes.

She said neither Mullins nor anyone else in the company reimbursed her for her donation. That — known as “laundering” money to hide its source — would have been illegal.

I asked how a person who’d been working two jobs — one of them in a pizza place — could afford to donate so much. She said she doesn’t have money problems, adding that her husband is an Army officer.

When asked again — well, maybe for the third time — how and why she settled on $2,500 — the max — she hung up.

If I were her, I guess I would have, too. But I never got to ask her how it was she chose the day before the end of the reporting period to ante up.

In a short interview Mullins broke off — because of bad weather, he said — he denied urging Best or Fehr to contribute. He also said he didn’t reimburse either woman.

Moreover, he denied even discussing the campaign with Best or Fehr. Note the inconsistency with Best’s statement.

Mullins said he hadn’t seen either woman at a McLeod campaign event. Asked what moved them to max out on the day before the end of the period, he had no answer.

He didn’t return a call I made to ask more questions. As was the case with Best, I had plenty.

For now, of course, there’s no proof that anyone did anything illegal.

But a lot of things still just don’t add up.

Comments (41) Add comment
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Conservative Man
5564
Points
Conservative Man 06/18/12 - 03:24 pm
6
1
Hypocrisy...

Wonder how much "investigation" into other campaigns the AC is conducting? Or is it only McLeod's candidacy Mr. Morris et al are concerned about. Funny being as how R.W.Allen was the main contractor on the TEE Center......hmmmm...
Oops! My bad....I forgot. Just asking that question makes me a "conspiracy theorist", right?

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 06/18/12 - 04:00 pm
5
1
Yuuuuuup. Wright is a

Yuuuuuup.

Wright is a politician.

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 06/18/12 - 04:01 pm
3
1
Billy wouldn't try to stack

Billy wouldn't try to stack Congress or the County Commission with his cronies would he? Here's the list of Allen's donors:
http://query.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/can_ind/2011_H2GA12121

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 06/18/12 - 04:06 pm
2
2
Conservative and Tech, what

Conservative and Tech, what is factually inaccurate about this story?

Austin Rhodes
2862
Points
Austin Rhodes 06/18/12 - 05:01 pm
5
2
Lack of disclosure

Morris Communications and Augusta National Golf Club gave Rick Allen 2,500 each according to Allen's campaign records.

Riverman1
84110
Points
Riverman1 06/18/12 - 04:18 pm
4
0
McLeod can't monitor where

McLeod can't monitor where contributions come from.

Now what I know is wrong and illegal is when someone involved with the campaign of a candidate passes money to his candidate via another who just happens to also be an office holder. Wait until THAT breaks.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 06/18/12 - 04:18 pm
8
1
McCleod... does read like a politician all the way...

If there was nothing to hide about the donations, what difference would it make who looked into them and for what purpose?

I say good reporting, Larry Petersen, dig deeper. And then go look into the other candidates too.

Conservative Man
5564
Points
Conservative Man 06/18/12 - 04:30 pm
7
0
Willow made my point..

Willow, you made part of my point more succinctly than I did. If the AC is going to investigate, investigate ALL candidates. Not just the candidate the owners of the paper see as the main threat to their guy........their guy being Rick Allen.....
But we'll see.....I'm not holding my breath though...

MartinezCitizen
24
Points
MartinezCitizen 06/18/12 - 04:32 pm
5
0
A little competition?

I would appreciate this article more if I thought the reporter and Morris Communication were looking into each and every candidate with as much gusto as they have been looking into this one. If you look at the list of Allen's donors, you will see same last names and addresses...why not look into the background of all of his donors too? Is Allen afraid of a little competition and playing puppetmaster pulling the strings of Morris and Larry Peterson?

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 06/18/12 - 04:32 pm
4
1
He loves me, he loves me not...

I agree River, unless McLeod solicited the donations and conspired to beat the system. From the article... McLeod is quoted....“You want to raise as much as you can as soon as you can,” he said. “It’s like cramming for an exam.”

He said he doesn’t recall calling Mullins, but added, “It sounds like something I’d be doing.”

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 06/18/12 - 04:34 pm
1
0
Conservative Man

Mucho gracias

Riverman1
84110
Points
Riverman1 06/18/12 - 04:35 pm
3
0
Willow, I'm sure you agree

Willow, I'm sure you agree that statement in no way means he was encouraging anything against the ethics rules.

Riverman1
84110
Points
Riverman1 06/18/12 - 04:37 pm
6
0
We need paperbags full of

We need paperbags full of money in parking lots at night to make this a good story. Remember that and remember what came of it?

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 06/18/12 - 04:38 pm
2
1
Wright would never ever ever

Wright would never ever ever do anything unethical. Wink. Wink.

jbartley
545
Points
jbartley 06/18/12 - 04:58 pm
3
0
Just the Facts.

As an attorney in the State of Georgia, Mr. Wright McLeod should know the laws of the State. When he stated managing HOA's for local builders he was not licensed under state law to do so for more than a year maybe longer. I think this is very interesting considering the fact that his a real estate attorney. Makes me question if he knows what he's doing or did he know and just think the State Laws didn't apply to him.

Austin Rhodes
2862
Points
Austin Rhodes 06/18/12 - 05:04 pm
5
2
Jim...

...paperwork error? Was he sanctioned? BTW...how many irregularities with the TEE Center should Mr. Allen be blamed for?

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 06/18/12 - 05:19 pm
5
1
River,who knows?

No, certainly, I don't have that information, nor do I wish to imply otherwise. I am giving the other side of the coin to your comment where you declared McLeod would have no control over the contributions. I would add two points. 1) If McLeod and Mullins are close enough for him to call at the end of the quarter, they are close enough for Wright McLeod to know what Mullins and wife have already donated. 2) Additionally, I would say that the candidate does have a responsibility to have a financial/rules overseer in charge of his contributions to see that laws are not being broken. This would apply to all candidates.

I don't personally know either candidate. Because McCleod is in Evans, a veteran, a lawyer, a republican, a good guy type, etc., I was interested in voting for him, but currently find his inconsistencies troubling. Perhaps, if after the others are equally investigated, I might find him the least offensive. Who knows?

Khan'tB4Real
948
Points
Khan'tB4Real 06/18/12 - 07:24 pm
5
1
Great SCOTT ... I hope people
Unpublished

Great SCOTT ... I hope people understand that the public is not as dumb or clueless as they may think!

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 06/18/12 - 07:54 pm
2
2
w00t

haha awesome comments. maria sheffield is looking like the best candidate. name recognition through mudslinging (ricky bobby allen) is NO GOOD. wright seems like a good guy but his campaign manager isn't terribly on top of things when it comes to disclosure.

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 06/18/12 - 07:58 pm
1
2
shoot i may have to go with

shoot i may have to go with john "barra" if sheffield's campaign doesn't go anywhere

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 06/18/12 - 08:00 pm
1
1
no conflict of interest in

no conflict of interest in serving on the board involved spearheading a lot of the arguably unnecessary construction going on in richmond county Austin?

Khan'tB4Real
948
Points
Khan'tB4Real 06/18/12 - 08:37 pm
2
1
Contributions in the Name of
Unpublished

Contributions in the Name of Another

Contributions made by one person in the name of another are prohibited. No person may knowingly permit the use of his or her name to effect such a contribution. It is also prohibited to knowingly assist someone in making or to accept a contribution in the name of another. It is also unlawful to knowingly permit the use of one's name to effect a contribution in the name of another or to help someone make or accept such a contribution. 11 CFR 110.4(b).

11 Federal Elections 1 2011-01-01 2011-01-01 false Contributions in the name of another; cash contributions (2 U.S.C. 441f, 441g, 432(c)(2)). 110.4 Section 110.4 Federal Elections FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION GENERAL CONTRIBUTION AND EXPENDITURE LIMITATIONS AND PROHIBITIONS § 110.4 Contributions in the name of another; cash contributions (2 U.S.C. 441f, 441g, 432(c)(2)). (a) [Reserved] (b) Contributions in the name of another. (1) No person shall— (i) Make a contribution in the name of another; (ii) Knowingly permit his or her name to be used to effect that contribution; (iii) Knowingly help or assist any person in making a contribution in the name of another; or (iv) Knowingly accept a contribution made by one person in the name of another. (2) Examples of contributions in the name of another include— (i) Giving money or anything of value, all or part of which was provided to the contributor by another person (the true contributor) without disclosing the source of money or the thing of value to the recipient candidate or committee at the time the contribution is made, see 11 CFR 110.6; or (ii) Making a contribution of money or anything of value and attributing as the source of the money or thing of value another person when in fact the contributor is the source. (c) Cash contributions. (1) With respect to any campaign for nomination for election or election to Federal office, no person shall make contributions to a candidate or political committee of currency of the United States, or of any foreign country, which in the aggregate exceed $100. (2) A candidate or committee receiving a cash contribution in excess of $100 shall promptly return the amount over $100 to the contributor. (3) A candidate or committee receiving an anonymous cash contribution in excess of $50 shall promptly dispose of the amount over $50. The amount over $50 may be used for any lawful purpose unrelated to any Federal election, campaign, or candidate. [54 FR 34112, Aug. 17, 1989, and 54 FR 48580, Nov. 24, 1989, as amended at 54 FR 48582, Nov. 24, 1989; 55 FR 1139, Jan. 11, 1990; 67 FR 69948, Nov. 19, 2002]

http://www.fec.gov/pages/brochures/contrib.shtml

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 06/18/12 - 08:39 pm
3
1
I don't know any of the GOP

I don't know any of the GOP candidates, and don't have a dog in this fight. I did follow the TEE Center controversy and know there's a hand picked and payed for Commissioner. I just added the list so Conservative Man could see the donor list.

jbartley
545
Points
jbartley 06/18/12 - 09:44 pm
0
2
Austin

I am not supporting anyone in the 12th.

RetiredArmyToo
38
Points
RetiredArmyToo 06/18/12 - 10:06 pm
5
0
Larry Peterson stalks McLeod

Insider --what is factually inaccurate about this story? Questions Stalk McLeod Donors? NO, Larry Peterson is stalking McLeod’s donors. If you donated to someone do you really want a reporter or anyone calling you for justification? What would you tell that reporter? If you told him none of your business and hung up on him would that imply you did something illegal? Now aren’t you fair game to have your name published in the media for failing to answer the questions? Is anyone curious how Larry Peterson picked the names all the way from Savannah? How about how he got their phone numbers since they aren’t included on the disclosure? I have many questions too but they are for Larry Peterson and his bosses.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 06/18/12 - 10:35 pm
2
2
RetiredArmyToo, thank you for

RetiredArmyToo, thank you for admitting that there is nothing factually inaccurate in this article.

You might not like the facts, but you can't argue that they are the facts.

Iwannakno
1533
Points
Iwannakno 06/19/12 - 07:35 am
1
0
Mission Accomplished!
Unpublished

Willow said after this article they would have a hard time voting for McLeod. Exactly what this article was intended to do. Can you say one sided reporting?? Also, after reading Allen's disclosure list, why isn't the reporter questioning unemployed people giving money to Allen? That would strike me as odder than someone with a job at Pizza Joint giving. This article is a political hack piece and nothing more...

stillamazed
1488
Points
stillamazed 06/19/12 - 08:37 am
1
0
Funny

I always find it funny that people would seem surprised by something like this. It certainly doesn't surprise me and I would go on to say that it is probably happening everyday around the country in almost every campaign, no matter the party. Politics is a dirty corrupt business and if there is a way for them to get away with something then they will. Danke, das ist alles!

glfr8
120
Points
glfr8 06/19/12 - 11:34 am
1
0
Austin,

You can say all you want that Rick Allen got money from those organizations, but that is simply not true! If you read the report it said the individual, their occupation, and place of employment (As required by federal law). An individual employed by the National gave $2,500... So there is no way the Augusta National gave money to Mr. Allen... or could to any candidate if they wanted to. With Morris Communication, Mr. Simon is retired... It also clearly states that on the report as well. This link is to the fec laws... it clearly states no corporate contributions are allowed.... http://www.fec.gov/pages/brochures/fecfeca.shtml#anchor257909

Lee Benedict
1585
Points
Lee Benedict 06/19/12 - 09:12 am
2
4
McLeod is a Democrat running

McLeod is a Democrat running as a Republican, and, his voting record and his personal campaign donations have been lied about several times by McLeod himself. Wright voted in the 2008 Democratic primary to help prevent an Obama win? OK then, why vote for Richardson? It was, for all intents and purposes, between Clinton and Obama, so, "if" Wright were telling the truth, Hillary would have been the one to support. BTW, the GOP contest was a three-way dogfight between Huckabee, McCain, and Romney that was "won" with what, 34%? IF McLeod were indeed a Republican at heart, his vote would have been of greater value in the GOP primary.

Allen's company has not only TEE to deal with, but some things in a Lincoln County project that his buddies in Atlanta helped go away. And then we have Allen's numerous campaign contributions to Democrats, ultraliberal crooked Augusta Democrats. Please spare me the "he had to do it because he does business in Augusta" line. Does this mean that if he were to win we would have to pay to speak with him or otherwise have "access" to him? Both men may be very nice and personable, but I trust neither.

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