Originally created 08/22/06

Republicans call for action on Taylor ethics allegations



ATLANTA - The State Ethics Commission should move quickly to hear allegations that Democratic Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor took $35,000 in illegal contributions for his campaign against Gov. Sonny Perdue, a pair of prominent Republicans said Monday.

The shot was the latest in an escalating ethics war between the two parties, which have tried to claim the high ground on character issues early in the campaign. Democrats quickly said that Mr. Perdue was simply trying to steer attention away from a controversial land deal.

Former Attorney General Mike Bowers and onetime ethics commission member and former Perdue aide Robert Highsmith also urged the watchdog panel to bar Mr. Taylor from spending the funds until the investigation is complete.

The pair displayed charts showing eight $5,000 contributions from separate car dealerships all owned by supporter Carl Gregory, along with an ethics commission rule they said barred such contributions from "affiliated" companies. Under Georgia law, an individual or company can contribute just $5,000 to a candidate for governor.

"This right here is a clear violation of established law about which there is no question," Mr. Bowers said at a news conference held in the Capitol. "If we don't do it now, it won't get done until after the election. And that's too late."

Ethics commission investigations frequently take months to resolve, and often are not decided until after an election is over.

No action on the Taylor contributions is scheduled at the panel's next meeting, scheduled for Thursday.

Democrats said Mr. Perdue was trying to draw attention away from media reports of a Florida land deal between the governor and a developer Mr. Perdue had appointed to a state board.