Campaign paid $135K to lease aircraft from company Nathan Deal co-owns

Nathan Deal’s campaign for governor has paid a company in which the Republican nominee is a part owner more than $135,000 to lease aircraft — many times more than any other candidate for governor in this campaign cycle.

Since its launch in May 2009, Deal’s campaign has paid $6,000 a month for access to an airplane and a helicopter, as well as additional thousands of dollars a month in actual flight costs.

Deal’s Democratic opponent, Roy Barnes, has paid about $16,000 for aviation services since July 1, 2009. Deal’s former rival for the GOP nomination, Karen Handel, paid $6,325.40 in airfare in 2010.

State ethics laws bar candidates from using campaign money for personal benefit. It is unclear whether Deal personally benefited from the money paid to his company.

Chris Riley, Deal’s campaign manager and pilot, said neither Deal, his campaign nor his private company are making money from the arrangement.

The campaign, Riley said, sought an attorney’s opinion “to be sure we are appropriately and correctly abiding by the state ethical guidelines. However, we are more than willing to submit and ask for an advisory opinion [from the Ethics Commission].”

The campaign would not say whether it actually would seek the opinion.

Deal’s campaign pays North Georgia Aviation, a company the former congressman co-owns with a business partner, Ken Cronan. The company does not own an airplane or a helicopter. Instead, North Georgia Aviation is the partial owner of two companies that own a helicopter and an airplane that ferry Deal to campaign stops throughout the state.

The payments to North Georgia Aviation are recorded on his campaign finance reports as the “fixed cost” for aviation or for “operating costs” for aircraft. North Georgia Aviation is a subsidiary of Gainesville Salvage & Disposal, which Deal co-owns with Cronan.

The arrangement is both complex and unusual in Georgia politics and has led Deal to spend more on airfare than any other gubernatorial candidate since 2002, according to campaign finance reports. It could also pose an ethical problem for Deal if the candidate benefited personally, said Yasha Heidari, a former legal counsel to the State Ethics Commission. Read more of the article.

39 comments Add your comment

KT

September 27th, 2010
10:00 am

Does Deal do anything that isn’t shady?

Mary

September 27th, 2010
10:05 am

So what. Is this even worth reporting.

Vince

September 27th, 2010
10:10 am

So what?

No matter what the AJC digs up on Deal it cannot make him into Roy Barnes. That’s all people care about in this election.

They will vote for Deal simply because he isn’t Roy Barnes.

Mad Dog

September 27th, 2010
10:22 am

Not a clearly-written piece of journalism. I suppose the article is raising a question (whether Deal using campaign funds to benefit himself) that cannot be truly answered unless and until Nathan gives more complete disclosures into all of his business interests. I will not be holding my breath for that to happen.

Mr. D

September 27th, 2010
10:27 am

“is this even worth reporting” yep….sure it, because he will be running the state if elected and I sure hope the state doesn’t waste money the way Deal’s campaign does. They have been paying them since May of ‘09. Smells fishy, seems very expensive compare to others running, and the structure of all the businesses owned by Deal, his partners, and aides seems really questionable. Some kind of cross between the Enron business model and Soprano’s business model.

Kaipo

September 27th, 2010
10:32 am

This is horrible. Does appear that there is a witchunt against Deal.
So Deal should not earn any living whatsoever because he is in public service.

Deal will win this election hands down despite the Ajc trying to tear a good down in conjunction with Barnes because he is a good family man.

True Republican

September 27th, 2010
10:44 am

Enter your comments here

My Vote Counts

September 27th, 2010
10:51 am

Let the AJC keep bashing Nathan Deal and watch his lead increase.

Barnes is dog poop outside the Atlanta perimeter. The rest of the state doesn’t want Atlanta values.

True Republican

September 27th, 2010
10:55 am

This is another BS attack on Deal. This is for a Pilatus plane. It cost about $650 an hour to run plus the cost of a pilot if Chris Riley was not flying it for him. If you do the math that means he used the plane about 14-15 hours a month. This is a statewide campaign and that is right on target. What we should be doing is looking into how Barnes has only paid $16,000 which equates to about 2 hours a month. Any good or services donated to a campaign have to be reported so if someone is allowing Barnes to use their plane for free is in violation of campaign contrabutions guidelines. If the AJC was being responsible they would be investigating this instead of attaching Deal for reporting correctly.

Once again the AJC misrepresents the facts to aid the Dems. Could be why subscriptions a dropping like flies.

Light on Policy

September 27th, 2010
11:05 am

You have to wonder if the people that respond to these articles with ludicrous comments such as;
“it’s no big deal, at least he isn’t King Roy, this isn’t worth reporting” ever read the articles and fully comprehend what they’ve read or do any type of independent research for themselves.

The primary failure in the 24-hour news cycle is that the under-educated arse clowns, aka Republican Party, have to be told exactly what to think. So it’s now encumbent upon AJC writers to give every fact, salient detail via a chalkboard (ala Glenn Beck) because God forbid their readers may have to venture outside of AJC blogs and faux news to fact check or dig a little deeper on what’s being reported.

FYI, any time there isn’t a straight forward comparison between what is “reasonable and customary” for specific line items when reviewing campaign finance reports for candidates then it doesnt take a CPA or AJC reporter to figure that research needs to be done to substantitate a figure. An AJC reporter wouldnt be doing their job if they didnt question it. That’s journalism and Accounting 101. In this case, it just so happens that the culprit is none other than one, Nathan Deal.

The reality is that the research is based on what HE reported!! However, anyone who questions it now becomes a paid operative for Roy Barnes or part of the librul media out to destroy the Republican party….

Sad time in politics for Georgians…we are truly going to get the leader that we deserve.

True Republican

September 27th, 2010
11:07 am

Funny. I make a post with no 4 letter words but I do accuse the AJC of not being responsible in their reporting and it filters it.

Fools Rush In

September 27th, 2010
11:13 am

Reading comments on this and other AJC threads would be laughable if it was not so serious. Partisan fools in both parties will defend any crooked, incompetent, politician as long as he/she wears their party label. And then the same “partisan fools” squawk their heads off when they get from the slezeball they elect exactly what they deserve. As a conservative independent who almost always votes Republican, I will be voting for Roy Barnes. Nathan Deal’s antics and incompetence are just too much for me to stomach. Voting for Barnes is a hard choice for me and, while I will have to hold my nose to do it, if their was another viable candidate I would not even consider it. Barnes will be gone in four years and watching the action between him and a Republican General Assembly will at least provide a little amusement. Deal would probably be tre-elected by the partisan dullards who insist on supporting him despite that they know in their hearts just how rotten he is. Tom Perdue (who I respect as the man responsible for the victory of Paul Coverdell over Wyche Fowler some years back) had it right. For the sake of the future of the Republican Party in Georgia….Withdraw Nathan…Withdraw…and let the party gives us a candidate we can vote for with pride and a clear conscience!

I can see Russia from my house aka half governor of Alaska

September 27th, 2010
11:14 am

Nathan, fly on up here to Alaska. We’ll keep an eye out for the Russians and do some hunting.

You betcha!

Light on Policy

September 27th, 2010
11:20 am

—At True Republican—

Does it not give you any pause at all that given the probably co-mingling of campaign cash for personal business purposes coupled with an ethics investigation involving his personal business affairs that perhaps there is a greater likelihood this man may do the same with tax payer money on a larger scale??

Just asking

Solomon

September 27th, 2010
11:26 am

It seems to me that this article would be much more informative if the actual number of air miles used in campaigning were included. Without that, I would assume that Deal has traveled much more to reach the voters of Georgia. According to the AJC, Deal sins when he spends money, makes money, or loses money. On the other hand, Handel and Barnes seem to be as pure as the driven snow. It is really sad that so many otherwise knowledgeable voters only feed on information from the AJC trough.

Vince

September 27th, 2010
11:54 am

@ Light on Policy

It should not be assumed that everyone with plans to vote for Deal is a Republican. I am an Independent who voted for Roy Barnes in 1998. There are many of us out there who are quite well educated but refuse to vote for someone who proved to be nothing more than an overly partisan, position switching, tyrant. I am well aware of Deal’s ethics problems. In my view, however, they do not overcome the possibility of life under King Roy again.

I could have voted for any other Democrat over Deal. I am very unhappy with the choices of either party…and Monds….well, that would just be a wasted vote.

Light on Policy

September 27th, 2010
12:43 pm

-At Vince-

“but refuse to vote for someone who proved to be nothing more than an overly partisan, position switching, tyrant.”

Didnt Nathan Deal switch parties?

rebraider

September 27th, 2010
12:43 pm

Is it just me or is there only hit pieces on Deal in the AJC? Have we seen anything negative in story form of King Roy? Surprise me AJC and allow this to be posted…

rebraider

September 27th, 2010
12:44 pm

Blue Man in a Red State

September 27th, 2010
12:50 pm

Light on Policy – Actually yes, Deal used to be a Democrat until Georgia went all red and suddenly he was a Republican.

Vince

September 27th, 2010
1:05 pm

@ Light on and Blue Man

I have no problems with someone changing parties. Heck, I don’t like either of the parties. I DO have a problem when someone speaks a certain way on one issue and then immediately switches positions after the election.

I also have a problem with someone who sees things purely in a partisan way without any deference to what is actually right and just.

I think you proved my point.

Conservative Liberal

September 27th, 2010
1:16 pm

Some people believe you can’t dig the hole deeper if you’re in an airplane. Not true!

ML

September 27th, 2010
1:26 pm

exactly Vince! I see too many people choosing to be Republicans first and Americans a distant second. they won’t admit to it but actions speak louder than words. this country is in serious trouble and we need to do what’s best for each particular issue. the brain doesn’t function well on working on just one lobe. Koran burning and where a mosque is built are distractions to keep us from focusing on the really bad people that are hurting this country. it’s like starting a fire in someone’s bedroom and while they are tending to that stealing all their shiny stuff from the rest of the house.
immigration problems are why there is a mosque being built here.
we have to stop fighting so many wars, especially with muslims if we don’t want them here.
everytime we fight a war in another country their people can apply to come here, seek political asylum. that’s why we have such large Korean and Vietnamese communities in our country. being goaded into fighting wars in Islamic countries is only going to increase the number of muslims in this country and they’re gonna need more mosques.

ANYBODY BUT BARNES

September 27th, 2010
1:27 pm

Fauntle-Roy Barnes,

Explain how you will pass any legislation w/o Tom Murphy and dealing with a Republican legislature?

Georgians have long memories and unfortunately for you, you are not yet out of ours !

Clive

September 27th, 2010
1:38 pm

At first read this looks like more of Nathan sliding money into his own personal pocket and breaching ethics yet again.

Considering how high on the hog he lives in Hall County and his level of debt how else do people think he has been surviving since he quit his job in the senate?

Crooked Knows Crooked

September 27th, 2010
1:41 pm

I wish I were a politician. I could get caught red-handed, the proof could be without question and all I would have to say is, “I forgot”, or “No I didn’t”. I would never admit to anything, even though it is painfully clear that I was guilty.

Vince

September 27th, 2010
1:42 pm

ML….Glad you agree with me, but I have no problem with Vietnamese, Islamic, Korean..or any other immigrants. Nor, do I have any problem with someone building a mosque, temple, Wicca center or church. It is their Constitutional right.

I just have a problem with telling lies and with stupidity, even though admittedly, many folks cannot help the latter.

SICK REPUBLICAN

September 27th, 2010
2:11 pm

OK,OK I GIVE UP EVERY TIME I TRY TO SWOLLOW HARD AND STAY COMMITTED TO THE PARTY INSPITE OF NATHAN DEALS MANY PROBLEMS.BUT I CAN’T TAKE IT ANY MORE.EVERY WEEK THERE IS SOMETHING ELSE.I FEEL LIKE IF I VOTE FOR HIM NOW.MY OWN INTERGRITY WILL BE IN QUESTION.

Wes Barker

September 27th, 2010
2:19 pm

When the AJC looks for dirt its usually garbage. Mr. Deal tried to help his kids. WOW what parent doesn’t. I will be voting for Mr. Deal this November because he had the guts to stand by his kids. It tells me he will stand by us if we get into trouble over the next two years. Nobody is clean as the driven snow when your in politic’s but who is. It’s certainly not Roy Barnes.

Buckhead Writer

September 27th, 2010
2:21 pm

Hey all you disenchanted Republicans. There’s another way….vote John Monds!!!!!!

Tea Party Meber

September 27th, 2010
2:28 pm

NO MORE TAXS!!

Travis McGee

September 27th, 2010
2:35 pm

Horse hockey!

Miss Peach

September 27th, 2010
2:35 pm

The issue is NOT “helping” his 40-something children (by betting his entire net worth and leaving little, if any, for his old age and his other children). The issue is his deception, which some experts have described as ILLEGAL. (And, Nathan Deal is a lawyer)

There is more to come. Deal’s lame excuses (I forgot!), and constant revisions of pertinent documents (His net worth increased overnight! His real estate also appreciated suddenly in a depressed market.) are just asking the AJC to dig deeper. None of this passes the smell test.

How can a self-respecting Republican spend 18 years in Washington and come home broke?? If I’m going to elect a crook,at least, I want a good one. Nathan Deal can’t even cover his tracks.

refudiated

September 27th, 2010
2:35 pm

Tea Party Meber –

Clean your keyboard. Your keys are sticking.

droopydawg

September 27th, 2010
2:39 pm

Reporting facts is not “bashing” someone. If he is paying a higher than market rate to the company, it is probably a violation of campaign finance law. If not, then it is not. The article is not saying he DID violate the law, just that this raises questions.

Clive

September 27th, 2010
2:56 pm

I could go out and rob a back today and use the money to pay for my kids college. I guess thats OK to some Deal supporters as I am helping my kids?

Vince

September 27th, 2010
3:08 pm

Enter your comments here

Vince

September 27th, 2010
3:09 pm

@ Clive

It doesn’t make it okay, but it doesn’t make him Roy Barnes either.

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