Republican gubernatorial candidate Nathan Deal said today that a federal judge’s decision to reopen his daughter and son-in-law’s 2009 bankruptcy case does not expose him to more debt and will not affect his political campaign.
“I think you see from the polls that the public is not paying any attention to these issues because they know they are not essential to the issue of who can govern this state and who can lead us in the direction of where we need to go,” Deal, a former congressman, told reporters after speaking at a candidates’ forum at The Commerce Club in downtown Atlanta. “They want to hear us talk about issues and that is what I am doing.”
The bankruptcy stems from a failed sporting goods business started by Carrie Deal Wilder and her husband, Clint Wilder, that Deal invested in and that left him with $2.1 million in debts. A U.S. bankruptcy trustee sought to reopen the Wilders’ case after it was revealed that Clint Wilder was not eligible for a discharge of his debts, including those from the sporting goods store, because he did not divulge a prior bankruptcy in 2001.
Deal and his wife, Sandra, should have been mentioned as at least creditors of the Wilders, bankruptcy experts have told the AJC. A forensic accountant hired by the Deal campaign also said last week the Deals should have been mentioned, and that any omission by the Wilders in their filing was an error. However, Deal said today that his name should not have been listed in the filing “unless I was going to make a claim against the individuals who were filing, and I certainly didn’t intend to do that. I was an investor.”
Deal also declined to say whether he discussed with his daughter and son-in-law if he should have been listed in the bankruptcy filing.
“I have already answered those questions,” he told a reporter. “I am not going to get into their personal bankruptcy. I don’t think that is appropriate for you to do so. For you to drag family members into this kind of campaign is totally inappropriate.”
Deal has pledged to pay off the debt related to the business and is in the process of liquidating his IRA to cover a portion of the obligation.
Deal spoke to reporters today after appearing with Democratic opponent Roy Barnes at the candidates’ forum. Barnes also spoke to reporters about the bankruptcy following the forum.
“If you had a business, who would you want running it right now, me or Congressman Deal?” he said. “I’m glad he helped his daughter. But this is not an issue about helping your daughter. This is an issue about disclosure. This is about management. Why was this not disclosed?”