Graham says he’s out as state revenue chief

Controversial state Revenue Commissioner Bart Graham has told employees he’s being ousted by incoming Gov.-elect Nathan Deal.

In a letter to employees last week, Graham said he was told by officials with the new administration that he will not be retained when Deal becomes governor. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution received a copy of his letter to employees through the Georgia Open Records Act.

“I intend to be here at least through the end of Governor Perdue’s term and will update you as soon as I have additional information,” Graham told employees.

Deal has announced some reappointments of Gov. Sonny Perdue’s department heads, but he hasn’t mentioned Graham.

Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said, “We have not yet made any announcements on the Revenue Department. We’re announcing hires and those who will continue in their current positions as those decisions are made. We’ll announce the governor-elect’s decision on that position at the appropriate time.”

Graham was expected to be targeted for firing by Deal.

Graham has been one of the state’s most aggressive revenue commissioners in decades, publicizing the names of tax offenders and vigorously going after tax cheats in court. His style made him enemies in the General Assembly, and he even had his name raised in debates by gubernatorial candidates who vowed to can him.

Deal had extra incentive to go after Graham because of their dispute over the governor-elect’s business dealings.

Deal and Ken Cronan operate a salvage yard in Gainesville that for nearly 20 years enjoyed a no-bid agreement with the state to provide space for inspections of rebuilt vehicles. The AJC reported in August 2009 that Deal intervened with Graham and other state leaders to stop Graham from changing the program that earned Deal and Cronan’s company nearly $300,000 a year. Deal said he was worried the changes would lead to more unsafe cars on Georgia roads.

The newspaper’s report led to a congressional ethics investigation that found Deal possibly violated U.S. House rules. Deal resigned from Congress in March before any formal accusation was made.

A federal grand jury later subpoenaed records and testimony from Graham about the meetings with the congressman, a top staffer and state officials. Deal told reporters he was not the target of a federal probe into the case.

80 comments Add your comment

The Ghost of Lester Maddox

December 15th, 2010
12:51 pm

Well, who ever wanted to hang around tax collectors anyway, except….uh, Jesus.

tom mitchell

December 15th, 2010
1:17 pm

No surprise here. He had alienated the incoming Governor and probably knows a lot of stuff on Deal. Perhaps Deal should just assign Bart somewhere else in State government so he can keep a muzzle on him.

Seal the Deal

December 15th, 2010
1:19 pm

The legislature agrees that there is a large amount of uncollected taxes in the state, and Graham was aggresively attacking the problem. Too bad personal politics will again be giving higher priority that the good of the state.

Does this mean we will go back to paying $300k per year to Cronan and a blind trust?

Raquel Morris

December 15th, 2010
1:20 pm

I wish Bart Graham would tell everything he knows about Deal.

say what?

December 15th, 2010
1:43 pm

Oh well, I see some overdue tax write offs coming to Deal and his supporters. now this is a position that may need to be state elected, with no control by the governor.

khc

December 15th, 2010
1:47 pm

be interesting to see where he lands…..

the original and still the best John Galt

December 15th, 2010
2:00 pm

Good riddance. Black Bart may have been “aggressive,” but he has shown that he’s ignorant, incompetent, and arrogant. He has cost the State money more often than not with his antics, and has alienated everybody within the Revenue Department and in the rest of State government. His basic attitude has always been that State employees are worthless and stupid, and that he was the smartest one in the room whether he was in a meeting with employees, other angency heads, or elected officials.

I blame George “Sonny” Perdue for appointing a political hack with no education or experience in government. Of course the appointment was mainly based on Black Bart’s Master of Business Administration degree, and the big bucks his father in law donated to Sonny’s war chest. You see an MBA could “bring business practices to State government.” Unlike most corporations, however, the State government can’t really file Chapter 7.

As a legislator said when Black Bart was first appointed “if you could buy Bart for what he’s really worth and sell him for what he thinks he’s worth, you’d have it made.”

eduprin

December 15th, 2010
2:51 pm

what a “Deal” you repubs (elitist) are getting!!!

Travis McGee

December 15th, 2010
3:11 pm

I’ll kiss your patootie in the middle of Five Points and give you thirty minutes to draw a crowd if Deal’s true motivation for intervening with Graham to maintain his $300K contract was the concern over “unsafe cars on Georgia’s highways.

What a crop of horse hockey! But the good ol’ boys must believe him!

DaveDawg

December 15th, 2010
3:29 pm

This is what he deserves for proposing those awful blue license plates back in 2006.

The Oddball

December 15th, 2010
4:16 pm

@ “the original and still the best John Galt”

I’m in State government, and I know a lot of people who have worked with Bart. I don’t know a single person who would agree with your statement.

the original and still the best John Galt

December 15th, 2010
4:29 pm

Well, Mr. or Ms. “Oddball,” that shows that (a) either you are not really in State government, or (b) you don’t know Black Bart or the people I know. It could be that you are either Bart himself or one of George’s other appointees, since, as somebody said here the other day, the only ones who I have heard say anything good about that arrogant guy are himself, his mama, and George.

khc

December 15th, 2010
5:11 pm

since you seem to have inside info….what about other appointments and the oakey woods deal (no pun intended)

bart

December 15th, 2010
5:36 pm

I hope he’ll blow the whistle on everything he knows about our crooked governor-elect.

Well, as someone who knows

December 15th, 2010
5:49 pm

What the “the original and still the best John Galt” states is true. I have heard horror stories of Bart Graham flipping out and cursing out a female employee over a perceived incorrect action that wasn’t clearly stated to that employee. I have also heard of reaming his department heads over every little thing they apparently weren’t doing. I personally have spoken to Bart Graham and felt like he was smarter than everyone working for him and felt like he thought he was too important to talk to me, not to mention anyone else. Not only that but he looks like a zombie on TV. When the zombie outbreak occurs, Bart Graham’s true nature will come out.

Let’s not forget the brilliant decision to cut staff at the refund processing center to ’save money,’ which resulted in a backlog of returns.

A MBA can’t buy experience or leadership skills.

Gov Sonny Perdue

December 15th, 2010
5:50 pm

@“the original and still the best John Galt” – quit picking on my boy; sounds like you were on Bart’s delinquency list or part of the something like 20% of his Department that he let go a year or so ago.

khc

December 15th, 2010
5:53 pm

where did graham work before the state……why did he come to the state?

BeenThereDoneThat

December 15th, 2010
6:02 pm

As a Revenue employee I must agree with many items that Mr. Galt stated. I do think Bart was one of the most aggressive Commissioner the State has ever had and he kept taxpayers on their toes. But he was not a people person and he made life heck for those working for him. Morale was the lowest I had every seen at the Department and everyone was on pins and needles. He made a point to eliminate employees at or near early retirement then replace them with higher paid cronies. He eliminate the best of management and kept the weaker as they were more likely to be “yes” people he wanted. I was amazed at the lack of backbone his managers and directors had when sitting in meetings. But if any spoke against or offered an alternative to his idea, they were shot down with humiliated.

So for all his good, I to say “Good Bye, C’ya!”

BeenThereDoneThat

December 15th, 2010
6:10 pm

Bart was working in management at a large banking firm. One of his first course of actions was to have all Revenue deposits made to the bank in which he was still a stockholder. Fortunately this was stopped as it was made clear that multiple banks are used in case of bank failure.

Bart eliminated more like 30% of the workforce and replaced many. However less than 10% were tax cheats (and they deserved to be let go). But others were doing their job, but he felt threaten by their knowledge and eliminated the positions through RIF (reduction in force) which cannot be appealed or challenged. Many of these jobs were incorporated into new positions with higher paid employees he hand picked.

[...] I wonder why? AJC: Graham has been one of the state’s most aggressive revenue commissioners in decades, publicizing [...]

the original and still the best John Galt

December 15th, 2010
6:30 pm

Let’s just say that I have known Black Bart personally for years and leave it at that.

I could tell you a long list of stories like those above. I believe the man has mental problems. That’s the only explanation I can think of that can explain his bizarre behavior. For example, besides chewing out his employees in front of everybody, he has been known to mimic their voices and make fun of them in schoolyard fashion. That sort of behavior from a State official is amazing.

Black Bart was a banker, including with one of the big banks, but he was unemployed for some time before starting with the Perdue transition team. He had been let go from his last bank in a merger.

Governor elect Deal said at one point during the campaign that he couldn’t believe the Revenue Commissioner of this state would act like Black Bart has, and that expressed my feelings about him pretty well too.

As far as the Oaky Woods deal goes, that’s a George “Sonny” Perdue activity.

the original and still the best John Galt

December 15th, 2010
6:50 pm

The statement someone above made about Black Bart and Co. eliminating the jobs of those getting close to retirement is completely true, once again to my personal knowledge.

khc

December 15th, 2010
7:18 pm

sounds like perdue just wanted a yes man too; what a pair

Well, as someone who knows

December 15th, 2010
7:21 pm

I can also vouch for that statement [those getting close to retirement cut] as well — I’ve seen people getting hired by Bart Graham and those working under him having no business whatsoever in being involved with state government or being employable period. He seemed to attract special kind of people with a distinct lack of people skills and with an abrasive personality.

Maybe we’ll see Bart back in the unemployment line — HA, I doubt it. He’ll probably work as a banker again.

Victim

December 15th, 2010
7:23 pm

Commissioner Graham for all his short comings was an agressive collector of taxes and was truly a honest person. But he did verbally assult employees and he would not entertain their ideas or thoughts. The department as a whole worked in fear daily of getting on his list. He did feel that State employees were worthless and lazy when he came. I do believe he used his authority to bully business owners. If a employee ever crossed him you were basically marked for your career. He has no people skills and has mood swings like you wouldn’t believe. I have a close friend who was at tears over things he said to them. He treats employees like they are completly incompetent and they can not make any decision on their own. Even with all his faults he was a Revenue Commisioner that had the best interest of the taxpayers at heart and he did his best to collect taxes owed the State.

double

December 15th, 2010
8:06 pm

Honest person,best interest of taxpayers at heart.Sounds like he was doing his job,just rude with employees.

Big Dog 98

December 15th, 2010
8:42 pm

Sorry to see this. We need more State employees like him.

By the way, many if not most government employees can be described as “dufus”.

I guess now we will go back to some hack running the department and looking the other way at tax cheats.

Roy Barnes

December 15th, 2010
8:47 pm

When I was Governor I eliminated corruption.

Unfortunately, you morons did not vote for me. If I were elected I would have given teachers the pay and respect they deserve while reducing taxes and eliminating world hungry.

Leftwing Democrat

December 15th, 2010
8:49 pm

Sorry to see this man go…he actually tried to collect taxes from rich, corrupt politicians.

Experienced

December 15th, 2010
8:52 pm

I have experienced Graham since his appointment. What a self-important jerk! Goodbye Bart! I hope your replacement has a personality and some people skills; traits you clearly lack.

I. M. Freed

December 15th, 2010
9:28 pm

Thanks to the Commissioner for the job he did for Georgia. Now, he can use his down time to take
some of those old Dale Carnegie courses. He may have been the right man at the right time for
that particular job. They just don’t teach people skills at UT. Unless, of course, your name is Manning. Good luck and God’s speed to Mr. Graham.

double

December 15th, 2010
9:35 pm

His replacement will require all employees to take a bath before work.Since he will have to kiss to get you to work.

amazed

December 15th, 2010
9:41 pm

There are some real Jack@ss that comment on these blogs!!!

GG

December 15th, 2010
10:14 pm

Thank God. Hopefully, he’ll leave the state as well.

Mosell

December 16th, 2010
7:47 am

Old Dog 98. Sad comments. Blanket statements are usually always wrong as is yours.

Mosell

December 16th, 2010
7:51 am

Big Dog 98. I also forgot. The word is “doofus” not “dufus” and shouldn’t that have been plural? as in doofuses. (Sorry I called you Old Dog in the previous post. I’m just a doofus)

Who Dat

December 16th, 2010
8:26 am

OK who did not see that coming. No Deal for GA was not about to leave anyone in place that would challenge him in anything. Especially someone who would not play ball with him and took away his gravy pot of GA money. I am sure that there is more to come. One can only ask …. Where would the State be if we did not have someone like Mr.Graham in place as the Revenue Commissioner? ….. I am sure that Mr. Graham POed a lot of politicians by posting their names and those of their cronies online. How else would everyone know who the real DEADBEATS are ….. Mr. No Deal for GA will start reaping his secondary GA pay once again …… and no telling what esle. GEORGIA ….. BRACE FOR THE WORST …..

nothing seems to matter

December 16th, 2010
8:27 am

Bart took away our authority to make any decisions re delinquent active businesses or dealing with individual taxpayers. He instigated a “one plan” for everyone policy which resulted in the unnecessary closing of many otherwise viable businesses. Example… a business I personally worked for the Revenue Dept had a partner embezzle money from their withholding taxe account. They prosecuted the partner and agreed to pay all back taxes including most of the interest but no penalty. The IRS agreed but a year later Bart still had refused their agreement. This bs employed 63 people and is located in a poor rural county were jobs are at a premium. Bart did not care about these workers. He just refused to deviate from his “plan”. Even with pressure from Senators, Representatives etc; Truly not fit for the job.

Who Dat

December 16th, 2010
8:32 am

Maybe those people “close to retirement” were the useless State employees who sat there all those years NOT collecting the money they were supposed to and did not like it when someone came in and actually made them accountable for their work …. which they had not been doing before. I am sure that they did what they were told to do to keep the SCUM politicos and their friends happy.

Frustrated Tax Professional

December 16th, 2010
8:49 am

I have not heard anyone question Bart Graham’s honesty. However, I have heard many tax professionals question his management abilities. The Georgia Department of Revenue (DOR) is in need of new management and a new tone at the top. There is very little delegation of authority to department heads. Customer service is really “customer no service.” The competence level of many employees needs to be upgraded by better training. Many, many tax professionals (CPAs, attorneys, etc.) are disappointed and disgusted with the performance, lack of professionalism and responsiveness, and overall environment at DOR. The Department has been performing progressively worse over the last seven plus years. Change is imperative – Georgia citizens, businesses, and taxpayers deserve better than that which currently exists at DOR!

Tommy Tums

December 16th, 2010
9:02 am

I agree with the following statement made above. If you look at who gets hired and who gets fired in Revenue you will see two different age group, the older people get laid off and younger people get hired and promoted”As a Revenue employee I must agree with many items that Mr. Galt stated. I do think Bart was one of the most aggressive Commissioner the State has ever had and he kept taxpayers on their toes. But he was not a people person and he made life heck for those working for him. Morale was the lowest I had every seen at the Department and everyone was on pins and needles. He made a point to eliminate employees at or near early retirement then replace them with higher paid cronies. He eliminate the best of management and kept the weaker as they were more likely to be “yes” people he wanted. I was amazed at the lack of backbone his managers and directors had when sitting in meetings. But if any spoke against or offered an alternative to his idea, they were shot down with humiliated.

So for all his good, I to say “Good Bye, C’ya!””

nothing seems to matter

December 16th, 2010
9:07 am

Bart is the epitome of a micro-manager. This trait resulted in inexcusable delays in decisions re Offers in Compromise, for one, where Bart had to personally review and approve or disapprove each and every one. This caused major complaints for CPA’s and other professionals. I am sure these pros are cheering Bart’s dismissal as we Blog here today.

exRevenueEmployee

December 16th, 2010
9:30 am

It is amazing that the AJC never looked into revenues policy of hiring and promoting people under 40 and laying off employees over 50.

Angry As Hell

December 16th, 2010
9:37 am

Big Dog 98

You epitomize the stupidity that exists regarding what governmnet (state) employees do ro don’t do. I worked for over 30 years in law enforcement in state government at senior level positions where I never was compensated for the amount of time I actually put in on my jobs. I normally worked a 60 to 70 hours work week, including weekends, holidays and whatever time of the day it was necessary to protect the public. My team and I constatntly looked out for any waste that occurred and corrected it as soon as we saw it. We recognized tha fact that we, too, were taxpayers and didn’t want to see our budget wasted. If you worked for me, you were expected to work hard. If you didn’t work hard, I helped you find a new career path — usually in the private sector. I have been working in the private sector for a number of years now, and have been amazed at the waste I have seen. I have been amazed at the nepotism and sexual harassment I’ve witnessed as well. I do not think the leadership of the company I was with at the time believed or cared to believe there was need to worry about waste. After all, the costs were always passed on to the customer. I have witnessed similar problems at other companies.

So,

the original and still the best John Galt

December 16th, 2010
10:07 am

Black Bart came into office totally ignorant about the laws concerning tax collection, and unwilling to listen to those who knew the laws. His attitude was always that he knew best, and that he could not possibly be wrong. Anyone who disagreed, no matter how respectfully and politely, was replaced.

I must disagree with the statements that Black Bart is “honest,” because his general modus operandi with those he dislikes is to smear them with false accusations. He also always claimed he was “non-political,” but he is actually a classic Republican true believer, and set out to destroy anyone who didn’t toe the party line.

Black Bart apparently believes that he is elite, and that all those who disagree with him are by definition lesser beings who are of no consequense whatsoever. He is the classic example of an arrogant, narcissistic personality.

Base

December 16th, 2010
11:09 am

The Deal era begins and it is slash and burn.Can the Georgia economy take it? How about 11 percent unemployment forever!

Ocee

December 16th, 2010
12:34 pm

Bart Graham is a man of integrity, so naturally Deal will not have him. The voters will regret the day they elected Deal real soon.

pete

December 16th, 2010
2:24 pm

gotta hide all his sneaky ways!So this is the big switch over from the peoples of America goverment to coporate goverment of America I wonder what kinda of taxes they will start getting out of us!OH I forget free labor and slavery and keep ur mouth shut!

Glad I left Revenue

December 16th, 2010
4:32 pm

Black Bart did try to make Tax dogers pay up this is very true, BUT the AJC needs to do its homework about the Deal & Cronan inspection station 1st point there were 6 of these type of inspection stations NO MONEY was paid by the State all monies made came from the public having to pay to get there vehicles inspected by a state inspector if the vehicle had been totaled & rebuilt the public had 2 choices wait for a inspector to come by your repair shop & inspect the vehicle (which due to volume approx 15K vehicle a year inspected could take weeks) or tow it to one of the 6 stations and have it inspected that day. The 6 stations DID NOT have a contract with the state and DID NOT receive any $$$ from the state.

Bart is VERY arrogant and does not work well with rank & file employees, It will take years to rebuild the damage he has done to the department and damage to the working relationship with other state Depts unless you have worked in Revenue you would not beleive it.

A Concerned Person

December 16th, 2010
4:32 pm

The proverbial saying of you reap what you sow is evident in this situation. Bart Graham was not a good Commissioner. He exhibited a racist and sexist attitude. Morale at the Department of Revenue is at an all time low. There is only one or two senior level managers who are willing to stand up for the employees. The Human Resource Manager is a joke and follows whatever Bart tells her to do.