Analysis: Roy Barnes shares Deal problem

Sunday, Oct. 10, 2010 7:22 AM
Last updated 7:25 AM

Roy Barnes has, so to speak, a Nathan Deal problem.

GOP governor candidate Nathan Deal (left) has problems in his past, but so does rival Roy Barnes (left).  AP file
AP file
GOP governor candidate Nathan Deal (left) has problems in his past, but so does rival Roy Barnes (left).

Republican governor hopeful Deal insists he's done nothing wrong. Barnes' campaign says likewise of the Democratic candidate.

And maybe he hasn't.

But - as Deal already has - Barnes is developing an acute smell-test problem.

Aside from his recent personal and family financial woes, Deal is dogged by questions about his business arrangements with the state.

No matter how the former congressman answers them, people remain wary of the way his public and private business has intertwined.

Now former Gov. Barnes faces similar issues.

His law firm has appeared three dozen times before judges he appointed, winning - or helping win - his clients hundreds of millions of dollars.

Never mind, say his supporters.

Never mind one of the judges gave Barnes' campaign $10,000 less than a month before Barnes named him to the bench.

Never mind that judge has given Barnes' current campaign $2,000.

Never mind that judge and another Barnes judge - also a campaign donor - helped pave the way for a $459 million judgment.

Although the case was a dispute over junk faxes, no one died from paper cuts.

So never mind the judgement looks - at least on the surface - like a poster child for sky-high, trial-lawyer-stampeded verdicts.

Never mind that, even though he didn't try the case, Barnes personally appeared in court several times on the matter.

Never mind another Barnes appointee before which his firm has appeared repeatedly also has donated to his campaign.

Never mind the other multimillion-dollar judgments the firm has won before his judges.

You can't really prove that any of the above gives Barnes a leg up, can you?

And even though he owns the firm and its income is his income, he didn't personally appear in many trials.

Moreover, judges are picked by random - it's not his fault he sometimes ends up with one of the 57 folks he appointed.

And if a couple of his appointees slipped his campaign checks just before they were named to the bench, so what?

Anyway, even though they often run unopposed, his judges have to stand for re-election.

Remember, too: Opposing attorneys can move to recuse a judge they think is biased. And juries, picked in part because they don't know much about the cases they hear, matter, too.

Besides, is it right to tell Barnes he can't make a living as a lawyer just because he appointed so many judges?

About that $459 million junk fax judgment: A closer look suggests it may be firmly grounded in federal law.

But such mitigating circumstances don't makes the problem go away.

Barnes knows appearances count; when he was governor, he put his finances in a blind trust.

But he seems to be making up for lost time.

It's hard to imagine it doesn't look to the guy on the street like Barnes is cashing in on old political connections.

You appoint judges, some of whom contribute to your campaign, and then have cases before them. Level playing field, right?

Like Deal, Barnes seems to resemble the many insiders who've gamed the system and done well by each other.

His judges aren't the only example.

Months into his campaign, he still co-owned a firm that did almost $19 million in engineering business for local governments and the state.

For his part, Deal is desperate to change the subject - most recently his dance along the precipice of bankruptcy.

So he's more than happy to hammer Barnes with the judges and trial lawyer stuff for all it's worth.

Is that fair?

About as fair as Barnes has been to him.

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grinder48 10/10/10 - 07:42 am
As is typical, we have a

As is typical, we have a choice between two slimeballs. Deal is conservative, Barnes is liberal. Vote Deal.

bwinner 10/10/10 - 08:05 am
Larry - Did you write this

Larry - Did you write this article because so many people that read asked "So what?" when they got done reading your original article? It seems odd that you are still trying to prove a point that even the Republicans acknowledge isn't there. Here's a good article on the subject if you care to read below the talking points:

rmwhitley 10/10/10 - 08:44 am
I can't bear the thought of

I can't bear the thought of only three choices: Deal, Barnes, Monds. Deal appears to be a crook, Barnes is shady, lives off the fat of the land and a Democrat, and who is Monds? No vote is for Barnes. A vote for Monds is a vote for Barnes. Deal stinks to high heaven, but I will not vote for a Democrat.

Chillen 10/10/10 - 11:05 am
Who are the judges? I'd like

Who are the judges? I'd like to see some names and their city location.

Many Arrows
Many Arrows 10/10/10 - 12:26 pm
Deal is an 18 year

Deal is an 18 year Congressional Slimeball who spent us about $10 trillion in debt.

OJP 10/10/10 - 05:34 pm
Molehill -> Mountain As the

Molehill -> Mountain

As the article states, if opposing counsel thought it was a problem, they should have moved to recuse. Or the judges themselves should have done so. Trying to pin this on Barnes just shows ignorance of how a legal system operates.

c.james 10/10/10 - 06:44 pm
With Barnes we get Obama,

With Barnes we get Obama, don't let the biggest slimeball of all in our backyard. Keep Obama in DC where he belongs; with the other DC slimeballs he appointed. Deal has his issues but when he's elected you won't see Deal and Obama sharing the front page news like you will with Barnes. It was Barnes that bent to the Left when he changed the traditional GA State Flag and removed the Southern Cross along with hundreds of years of history. Georgia doesn't need this worthless excuse for a President in our State. Keep GA A RED State and keep Obama OUT!

c.james 10/10/10 - 06:57 pm
Georgia has supported the AZ

Georgia has supported the AZ law for immigration with their Governor. Don't let Barnes align GA with the Northern Liberal States who support Obama's stand against immigration and against the AZ law that enforces the Federal Law on immigration. Electing this has-been Barnes will put Georgia with the States who support Obama’s idiotic policies. There’s more at stake here then Deal's alleged financial problems. This distraction about Deal’s financial business is a smoke screen to move our attention away from the real issues that the majority of voters want. Keep Georgia Conservative, keep our Governor Republican.

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