Originally created 07/31/98

Lieutenant governor candidate criticized for land deal



ATLANTA -- Opponents of Christian conservative Clint Day, a Republican candidate for Georgia lieutenant governor, say his dedication to religious principles goes only so far.

Guardians of the Planet, a Native American activist group, Thursday criticized a 4-year-old deal in which the Day family's foundation sold to developers land in Gwinnett County which some believe to be sacred burial grounds.

"The Day foundation was set up to protect religious freedom ... I have a real problem when he wants to make money off of graves," said Sharon Kitchen, a member of Guardians of the Planet.

She spoke at a news conference set up and publicized by Mitch Skandalakis, Mr. Day's opponent in the Aug. 11 GOP runoff in the lieutenant governor's race. Mr. Skandalakis did not attend the event and declined to comment.

Mr. Day said he is not involved in daily operations of the foundation, and that the charity was contractually obligated to sell the land by the time Native American groups started protesting the deal.

"We ended our involvement with the sale. We were under a legal contract," Mr. Day said. "They are trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill."

The foundation bought the land for $202,782 in 1992 and sold it in 1994 to developers for $337,970.

A 1994 archaeological survey summary provided by Mr. Day's campaign found no Indian remains, artifacts or any other evidence of burials.

Guardians of the Planet maintain the land is a 1,400-year-old grave site.

The land was rezoned for homes, but groups protesting the land deal sued in Gwinnett County Superior Court and the property has never been developed.

The 45-acre tract is now owned by the Trust For Public Land, a preservation group, and cared for by Gwinnett County, according to county officials.