Ethics panel finds fault with ex-congressman Deal

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ATLANTA --- Republican gubernatorial candidate Nathan Deal might have violated House ethics rules by using his congressional office to pressure Georgia officials to keep an inspection program that funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars into his auto salvage company, a congressional panel concluded.

Gubernatorial candidate Nathan Deal is accused of pressuring state officials to keep a program that benefited his auto salvage company.   File/Associated Press
File/Associated Press
Gubernatorial candidate Nathan Deal is accused of pressuring state officials to keep a program that benefited his auto salvage company.

In a report released Monday, the Office of Congressional Ethics also found Deal exceeded the limit on outside income he can earn as a member of the U.S. House.

The alleged violations might never be confirmed because Deal quit Congress earlier this month before the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct could complete an investigation. Deal has said he resigned to focus on his gubernatorial campaign.

Deal spokesman Harris Blackwood blasted the conclusions of the nonpartisan office as "a political witch hunt fueled by Democrats" who think the ex-congressman from Gainesville would defeat Democratic favorite Roy Barnes in the race for governor.

"Nathan Deal did nothing wrong," Blackwood said.

Congressional investigators found that Deal made at least $75,000 in 2008 in outside income, well over the limit of $25,830.

Blackwood chalked that up to "an innocent accounting error" and said Deal had corrected the past three years of tax returns after learning of the mistake.

The report also alleges that Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, also of Gainesville, refused to cooperate with congressional investigators who sought an interview. Cagle helped Deal coordinate meetings with state Revenue Commissioner Bart Graham, who was proposing changes to the way the state inspects rebuilt salvaged vehicles.

The report recommended the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct of the U.S. House subpoena Cagle to get him to talk.

"Today's report conveniently omits the dozens of interactions between my office and the OCE," Cagle said in a statement Monday. "We have voluntarily taken an active role in an investigation that we are not even the subject of and furthermore conducted by an organization that exercises no jurisdiction over state constitutional officers. Simply put, we've given them everything we have to give them."

The allegations against Deal were first reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2009.

The congressional report describes how Deal and his chief of staff intervened with state officials in 2008 and 2009 on behalf of his auto salvage business, Recovery Services Inc.

The company's no-bid contract with the state earned nearly $1.5 million from 2004 through 2008. Graham wanted to open the inspection process up to introduce more competition.

Deal has since ended his relationship with the state.

The Washington-based watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics, which effectively acts as a gatekeeper, conducting preliminary ethics investigations.

The office, in its report released Monday, recommended the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct launch an investigation of Deal's activities.

Melanie Sloan, CREW's executive director, praised the office for releasing its findings and suggested the Justice Department should pursue a criminal investigation.

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Ga Values
27
Points
Ga Values 03/30/10 - 06:51 am
0
0
Deal is just a crook and has

Deal is just a crook and has no business being Governor. As they say the REAL DEAL is a RAW DEAL.

Notreally
4
Points
Notreally 03/30/10 - 06:58 am
0
0
Well his chances are KAPOOT.

Well his chances are KAPOOT.

Many Arrows
-1
Points
Many Arrows 03/30/10 - 12:59 pm
0
0
There are at least 3 other

There are at least 3 other excellent GOP candidates, who are not 19 year denizens of the Washington Cesspool, running for governor - Karen Handel, Austin Scott, and Eric Johnson.

Lost in this is Deal's irresponsible voting record. During his time in Congress the national debt tripled and he voted for most of the damage.

No rotten Deal for this voter!

mable8
2
Points
mable8 03/30/10 - 03:50 pm
0
0
While Deal may have committed

While Deal may have committed unethical acts, many democrats have received a pass for doing the same. They should ALL be prosecuted if illegal acts were committed in the name of politics. Either way, neither Deal nor Barnes will get my vote.

Many Arrows
-1
Points
Many Arrows 03/30/10 - 05:12 pm
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Deal was on the list of the

Deal was on the list of the 15 most corrupt members of Congress and Democrat Charlie Rangel was at the top of the list.

Fact is, the Democrats kicked Rangel out as Chairman of Ways and Means, the most powerful position in the House other than Speaker.

8 of the 15 named to the list of the Most Corrupt in Congress were Democrats, so the cries that this was a biased witch hunt are just plain wrong. Also the decision to release the report on Deal was unanimous, with 3 Republicans joining 3 Democrats in the decision.

Deal should quit the race and leave the governor's job to his betters.

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