Originally created 09/29/05

Friends of Mansion takes funds but isn't registered



ATLANTA - An organization raising money to preserve furnishings in the Governor's Mansion isn't registered with the secretary of state's office, despite having collected tens of thousands of dollars.

Friends of the Mansion is a nonprofit organization created by Gov. Sonny Perdue's wife, Mary, in 2004 to help raise money to restore the antique furniture in the public areas of the residence. It has collected $390,000 so far.

The group is already under fire for accepting money from those with business before the state and is still working to clear up its legal status more than a year after it was formed.

State law says: "No charitable organization required to be registered under this code section shall solicit prior to registration."

Wright Mitchell, the organization's general counsel, said that to his knowledge the organization had complied with the law and was still filing documents with the secretary of state's office.

"We submitted some additional documents not too long ago," he said.

When a reporter asked about the group's history Wednesday, Mr. Mitchell said he would have to talk with members of his board before granting an interview.

Mr. Perdue's office said Friends of the Mansion is a private effort to use donated money for repairs caused by decades of wear.

"If there are uncompleted documents that are needed to complete the registration process, I'm sure they will be forthcoming," said Heather Hedrick, the governor's press secretary.

A spokeswoman for Secretary of State Cathy Cox said organizations are often confused about which documents to file when.

The securities division of Ms. Cox's office sent a letter regarding the failure to file to Friends of the Mansion on Aug. 29.

Cox spokeswoman Cara Hodgson said an application was received Sept. 19 but that the securities division sent a request for additional information to Mr. Perdue Sept. 23.

"This will serve as official notice that such charitable organization is not registered to solicit contributions in Georgia," the second request said.