Deal names remaining members of his transition team

Governor-elect Nathan Deal has announced the remaining members of his transition team and they include lobbyists, his campaign accountant and attorney, his daughter-in-law, several outgoing Republican state lawmakers and one former political foe.

The 26-member committee is supposed to advise Deal as he prepares to take the reins of power from fellow Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue in January. Among other things, the panel will help Deal decide who to hire for his cabinet.

Several of Deal’s panel members have been lobbyists, including: Dan Lee, a former state senator who has lobbied for numerous clients at the State Capitol; Rob Leebern, a D.C. lobbyist and former congressional staffer; Joe Tanner, a lobbyist and former Georgia Department of Natural Resources commissioner; and Monty Veazey, a lobbyist, former state representative and president of the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals.

Lobbyists were also among the names of a few panel members Deal announced last week, including: Pete Robinson, chairman of Troutman Sanders’ lobbying arm and a veteran of the Capitol lobbying corps, and John Watson, Perdue’s former chief of staff and the founder of a major Atlanta lobbying firm. A spokesman for Deal said all the lobbyists on his committee would stop lobbying while serving on the panel.

It is not uncommon for politicians to seek advice from lobbyists as they get ready to take office. For example, after Democrat Roy Barnes was elected governor in 1998, one of his top transition advisors was Tommy Lewis, a longtime lobbyist for Georgia State University.

Still, Deal’s choices raised eyebrows among government watchdogs Monday.

“The ordinary voters can’t afford lobbyists and don’t have special access,” said Emmet Bondurant, a board member for Common Cause. “Corporations don’t hire lobbyists to represent any interests other than their own financial interests, whatever their interests happen to be, whether it is tax breaks, subsidies, or appropriations for special projects that will produce business for them.”

But lobbyists have other skills that could help politicians, said Audrey Haynes, a political scientist at the University of Georgia. She pointed out that Leebern served as Saxby Chambliss’s chief of staff when Chambliss was in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“In Georgia, that is where you find a lot of political experience,” Haynes said of the state’s lobbying corps.

Deal also put Jimmy Allen and Randy Evans on the panel. Allen served as an accountant for Deal’s campaign while Evans worked as the campaign’s attorney. Denise Deal, Deal’s daughter-in-law and the finance director for his campaign for governor, has also been selected to serve on the panel.

Deal also reached out to several Republican lawmakers who could help him build bridges with the state Legislature. Perdue has sometimes had a rocky relationship with the House. Among the members on Deal’s committee are: Georgia House Speaker Pro-Tem Jan Jones, R-Alpharetta, and former Georgia House Majority Leader Jerry Keen, R-St. Simons Island, who recently resigned from the Legislature. State Sen. Chip Pearson, R-Dawsonville, who did not seek reelection this year, and Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, are also on the panel.

Deal also tapped former Senate President Pro-Tem Eric Johnson, R-Savannah, whom Deal defeated in the GOP primary for governor. McGuireWoods Consulting, a major lobbyist firm with offices in Atlanta, announced Monday that it had hired Johnson.

Staff writer James Salzer contributed to this report.

By Jeremy Redmon

jredmon@ajc.com

Governor-elect Nathan Deal has announced the remaining members of his transition team and they include lobbyists, his former campaign accountant and attorney, his daughter-in-law, several outgoing Republican state lawmakers and one former political foe.

The other members of his transition committee are:

Jimmy Allen, a forensic accountant who was hired by the Deal campaign for governor;

Denise Deal, Deal’s daughter-in-law;

Kit Dunlap, chairwoman of the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District and CEO of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce;

Randy Evans, who served as the attorney for Deal’s campaign;

State Rep. Melvin Everson, R-Snellville, who lost his bid for labor commissioner this year and is leaving the state House of Representatives;

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, an obstetrician-gynecologist and the chairman of the Board of Governors of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation;

Georgia Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson, R-Savannah, who lost his bid for governor in the Republican primary and is leaving the state Senate;

Georgia House Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones, R-Alpharetta;

Former Georgia House Majority Leader Jerry Keen, R-St. Simons Island, who resigned this year;

Dan Lee, a former state senator who has lobbied at the State Capitol;

Rob Leebern, a D.C. lobbyist who served as the chief of staff to Saxby Chambliss when Chambliss was in the U.S. House of Representatives;

Bill Lingenfelter, former president of Wachovia-Georgia;

Steven Meeks, former state director for Sen. Saxby Chambliss and a farmer in Jesup;

State Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga;

State Sen. Chip Pearson, R-Dawsonville, who did not seek reelection this year;

Tricia Pridemore, a Deal supporter and founder of the Georgia chapter of Glenn Beck’s 912 Project;

Neil Pruitt, chairman and CEO of UHS-Pruitt Corp.;

Wesley Smith, CEO and chairman of Northwest Georgia Bank in Catoosa County and the treasurer for Deal’s gubernatorial campaign;

Michael Shaffer, of Augusta, former district director for U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood;

Joe Tanner, a lobbyist and former Georgia Department of Natural Resources commissioner;

Charles Tarbutton, vice president of Sandersville Railroad and a Georgia Chamber of Commerce board member;

Monty Veazy, of Tifton, a lobbyist and former state representative and chairman of Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals;

Last week Deal announced that Rogers Wade, the chairman of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, would lead his transition team. And he named a few oth

Governor-elect Nathan Deal has announced the remaining members of his transition team and they include lobbyists, his former campaign accountant and attorney, his daughter-in-law, several outgoing Republican state lawmakers and one former political foe.

The other members of his transition committee are:

Jimmy Allen, a forensic accountant who was hired by the Deal campaign for governor;

Denise Deal, Deal’s daughter-in-law;

Kit Dunlap, chairwoman of the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District and CEO of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce;

Randy Evans, who served as the attorney for Deal’s campaign;

State Rep. Melvin Everson, R-Snellville, who lost his bid for labor commissioner this year and is leaving the state House of Representatives;

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, an obstetrician-gynecologist and the chairman of the Board of Governors of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation;

Georgia Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson, R-Savannah, who lost his bid for governor in the Republican primary and is leaving the state Senate;

Georgia House Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones, R-Alpharetta;

Former Georgia House Majority Leader Jerry Keen, R-St. Simons Island, who resigned this year;

Dan Lee, a former state senator who has lobbied at the State Capitol;

Rob Leebern, a D.C. lobbyist who served as the chief of staff to Saxby Chambliss when Chambliss was in the U.S. House of Representatives;

Bill Lingenfelter, former president of Wachovia-Georgia;

Steven Meeks, former state director for Sen. Saxby Chambliss and a farmer in Jesup;

State Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga;

State Sen. Chip Pearson, R-Dawsonville, who did not seek reelection this year;

Tricia Pridemore, a Deal supporter and founder of the Georgia chapter of Glenn Beck’s 912 Project;

Neil Pruitt, chairman and CEO of UHS-Pruitt Corp.;

Wesley Smith, CEO and chairman of Northwest Georgia Bank in Catoosa County and the treasurer for Deal’s gubernatorial campaign;

Michael Shaffer, of Augusta, former district director for U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood;

Joe Tanner, a lobbyist and former Georgia Department of Natural Resources commissioner;

Charles Tarbutton, vice president of Sandersville Railroad and a Georgia Chamber of Commerce board member;

Monty Veazy, of Tifton, a lobbyist and former state representative and chairman of Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals;

Last week Deal announced that Rogers Wade, the chairman of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, would lead his transition team. And he named a few other members:

Pete Robinson, chairman of Troutman Sanders’ lobbying arm and a veteran of the Capitol lobbying corps. Deal’s team indicated that Robinson would stop lobbying while serving on the transition team;

John Watson, Perdue’s former chief of staff and the founder of a major Atlanta lobbying firm. He is now an executive in a commercial real estate firm;

Philip Wilheit, the president of a Gainesville-based packaging firm and a major Deal donor and business partner.

er members:

Pete Robinson, chairman of Troutman Sanders’ lobbying arm and a veteran of the Capitol lobbying corps. Deal’s team indicated that Robinson would stop lobbying while serving on the transition team;

John Watson, Perdue’s former chief of staff and the founder of a major Atlanta lobbying firm. He is now an executive in a commercial real estate firm;

Philip Wilheit, the president of a Gainesville-based packaging firm and a major Deal donor and business partner.

8 comments Add your comment

The Ghost of Lester Maddox

November 8th, 2010
9:16 am

I got a kick out of the Almighty AJC prominent headline trying to smear the incoming Chief of Staff for Deal.

Funny, I can’t seem to recall any headlines about Bobby Kahn back when he was wielding knifes and selling plum assignments for King Roy.

So the AJC would have us uneducated hicks to believe that Deal’s Chief is dirty? Well, life with Bobby Kahn as Mr. Assistant Governor was not exactly like Easter week in the nunnery!

[...] Several more lobbyists, a trio of exiting state lawmakers, and a daughter-in-law round out membership of Governor-elect Nathan Deal’s transition team. My AJC colleague Jeremy Redmon has the details. [...]

[...] news comes just as Governor-Elect Nathan Deal has rolled out his transition team, according to the AJC, with Johnson, Deal’s former rival, listed prominantly among the [...]

carlton

November 8th, 2010
10:13 am

Base

November 8th, 2010
10:46 am

What a motley crew!

SpaceyG - Full Broomstick Mode

November 8th, 2010
8:34 pm

I can’t wait to live-Tweet this gang next session!

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