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