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

Kathy SIngletary

December 16th, 2010
4:43 pm

Mr. Graham was the successor of a gentleman, a true class act, T. Jerry Jackson. Mr. Jackson upheld all the tax laws while being an employer everybody on the team diligently sought to please. The collection process for S/U, I/T, W/H, MF, MV, CORP, S CORP, PARTNERSHIP, FIDUCIARY, and managment of PROPERTY taxes is a huge network demanding constant magical tricks to even begin to achieve compliance. However, Mr. Jackson (referred to in our office as Mr. Jerk of All Trades) sought to truly get compliance to a state that was all but bankrupt after Roy Barnes and his merry gang ran roughshod over the assets and failed to secure replacements or even to properly spend those very dollars that employees, using code regulations of OCGA constantly worked to collect. Compliance under Mr. Graham was much improved, but the cost to morale, loss of respect and general aggressive, overbearing strong arm tactics made the gains come at a very large cost. Many people believe all civil servants are uneducated and untrained. Unfortunately the organization, in spite of capable workers, is hindered by extremely poor judgement in hiring. I retired when it made no difference what I did, how long I worked (working over fifty hours a week for years and years while paid for forty) and then the “overlooking” when a position was denied to me while promotion came from the great ivory tower in Atlanta. The worst thing about the Bart Era is that former loyal friends, co-workers, supervisors climbed over the backs of those who tried to truly make a difference. So, yes, it is time to move away from the negativity of DOR and return to an atmosphere where employees are treated with the respect they deserve and citizens are also afforded this same respect – no more browbeating – belittlement – callousness!! Welcome new commissioner – wish I could have stayed around to work with you. Cinderella

A concerned tax payer

December 16th, 2010
4:59 pm

We will rue the day we didn’t elect Karen Handel.She too would have replaced Bart Graham, but not because he had anything on her like he does Deal. It is clear that car safety was no issue in opening up the salvage business for bids. The taxpayers were getting ripped off by another rotten politician looking out for his own interests instead of the taxpayers. Yet Deal was elected anyway. It doesn’t speak well for our state. Karen would have understood the problems at the Revenue Department and appointed a qualified individual to take over there.

Retired Revenue Employee

December 16th, 2010
5:22 pm

I retired from the Revenue Department 2 years early because I was tired of dealing with Bart Graham. The people who defend him have never had any dealings with him or they would have known he was arrogant and did not care for anybodys opinion because he was smarter and knew more than them. He never realized any manager is only as good as his people and they are the ones who are the experts.
I am not a bitter ex-employee because being retired fairly young is the best think that ever happened to me.

EMS

December 16th, 2010
6:23 pm

I’m sure Bart Graham had a lot of good ideas. Unfortunately, the idea for most business to file and pay taxes electronically is going to have a lot of small and medium sized businesses whose records often consist of a sack full of checks and a sack full of bills, too confused by the extremely poor electronics systems to file accurately. People who cannot properly process pieces of paper should never be trusted with processing returns and payments electronically. Besides, the internet is a public forum. It is too easily hacked by everyone from China and Russia to North Korea. See http://www.infowar-monitor.net for more details. Using the internet to file any kind of tax is identity theft “suicide”.

khc

December 16th, 2010
6:42 pm

amazing accounts some for, some against, some not sure what they said ie singletary (was jackson a better commissioner than graham or not….and how did barnes directly impact dor). many dollars spent on that agency for y2k (computer) enhancements…….did perdue fund dor better than his predecessor?

Plain Truth

December 16th, 2010
8:32 pm

” 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.” from A Concerned Person is the truth and nothing but the truth if they get rid of Bart and leave the Human Resources Director it will be business as usual, she is his hatchet person. The HR Director has little or no concern for the employees and the way they treated employees who were run off should be a crime. Get on the HR Director radar and you’ll end up like Pearl Harbor!!!

Know Thy Facts

December 16th, 2010
9:56 pm

@ the original and still the best John Galt – You seem to know all about Commissioner Graham. Who is his wife’s father? Please support your claims with facts. I know his wife and her father does not live in Georgia, never has and has no reason to support Governor Perdue.

Know Thy Facts

December 16th, 2010
10:01 pm

John Galt – PLEASE..do your homework! Mr. Graham’s bio is publicly available. He worked for Wachovia and left for another job long before any merger. If you want credibilty, be accurate!

Ex Revenue Employee #2

December 17th, 2010
12:13 am

Thank you Deal. Bart Graham ruined Revenue Motor Vehicle Division with his assinine decisions. Douglas Hooper(former Director reassigned to Revenue Law & Policy) had MVD on the right track; he knew his stuff. But like “Glad I Left Revenue” said, Bart had a problem with rank employees; and made Doug’s life misereable. Bart assigned one of his flunkies (Tim Dwight) to MVD and this guy does not know anything about MVD laws and how to run the Division; he is on the job training. The remaining managers who were not laid off are really running the Division; Tim knows nothing! Just check it out for yourelf.

Good Riddance Fart Graham. It is so true that you reap what you sow.

Ex Revenue Employee #2

December 17th, 2010
12:17 am

You are preaching Plain Truth! I agree that the HR Director must go as well.

Ex Revenue Employee #2

December 17th, 2010
12:27 am

Bart was so cold blooded, he eliminated peoples position who were less than six months away from retirement. Now how you gone do somebody like that? I can tell so many stories. smh

Glad I left Revenue

December 17th, 2010
1:19 am

Worst Rev Comm in the last 35+ years and YES the HR girl needs to go !!!

Glad I left Revenue

December 17th, 2010
7:51 am

To concerened Tax Payer, on wsb 2 during the summer while running a report on Karen Handel it was stated that Handel & Bart were close friends so NO she would have keep Bart, the only the state could have gotten rid of him was the elect Deal or Barnes, if you ever work in state goverment you will see that ALL politicians are crooks and just a cut above our inmates.

The damage Bart has done will take years to and $$$ to fix and the high price staff and his Legal Girl Staci Guess and the HR girl need to go to start the rebuilding process. unless you worked in state goverment you could not beleive this snake pit.

khc

December 17th, 2010
9:28 am

glad i left….could you comment on singletary note…can’t figure out why she took swipe at barnes? was previous commissioner jackson better or just barely better than bart? is there anyone left in revenue to head the department?

BeenThereDoneThat

December 17th, 2010
11:07 am

Okay, I have to totally disagree with Ex Revenue Employee. Doug Hooper is an incompetent joke that shoots from the hip and makes up laws he cannot back up and when he is found to make a mistake he back pedals and tries to shift the blame to the person making the inquiry. The only reason he was not let go was because he was a “yes man” and Bart decided to save him. Doug had absolutely zero leadership skills and was out of his league. The motor vehicle division was hit hard by Perdue when he decided to undo one of the only good things Barnes did in creating the DMVS. Putting the motor vehicle division back under Revenue was and is a mistake.

That being said, Tim Shields (not Dwight as stated by someone else) is also out of his league as he knows little about motor vehicle registration and titling. However he is a good leader that recognizes the talents of his staff and wants to be informed of the needs of MVD but does not “micromanage” the place. And anyone that has any doubts come and see the lobby of the MVD building in Hapeville. Most all the improvements from a customer service center, to improving processing times, and utilizing limited resources have come under Mr. Shields.

Bart fired (through false accusations) very smart leaders that knew their job like the back of their hands and kept the incompetent ones as long as the agreed to everything he said. But Doug was so bad that even Bart couldn’t justify keeping him in a leadership role. Although unlike the others, he did allow him to remain employed with the State.

the original and still the best John Galt

December 17th, 2010
12:09 pm

My friends at Revenue, be cautious… Black Bart will retaliate against you if he can recognize who you are. I have been careful not to reveal my identity for that reason.

Let’s see, Black Bart’s wife’s folks are connected with the Flowers Foods/Flowers Bakery corporations, which are among the oldest and richest businesses in Georgia. That’s enough to concern them about who might be Governor, and to concern them about State taxes.

You see, all the major corporations are past masters at getting special tax deals. One of the members of the Flowers board, for example, is also connected with Synovus, the Columbus, Georgia based banking and financial services firm. Synovus has a special tax deal, passed by the Legislature. Look it up.

Another member of the Flowers board is the former Chairman and Chief Operating Officer of Bank South. In other words, he was Black Bart’s boss back when Bart was Chief Financial Officer at Bank South. First Union didn’t want Bart, however, when they bought Bank South.

I never said anything about Wachovia.

To clean up the Revenue Department and put it back on track, besides the names alredy mentioned, it will be necessary to remove Red Ed Many- he’s just another Bart. And there are several others.

The sad thing is that, despite having several choices better qualified to be Commissioner, it’s likely that another ignorant political hack with no education or experience in the State government will be appointed in Black Bart’s place. Pray it’s not Red Ed.

the original and still the best John Galt

December 17th, 2010
12:15 pm

Oh, almost forgot. The alleged “ethics complaint” against Nathan Deal was always a Black Bart scheme to get Karen Luv Handles elected so he could keep his job. That’s the way Bart operates. Not saying Deal is pure as the driven snow, but as soon as I heard that Black Bart was involved I recognized the standard operating procedure as evidenced by the Revenue Department over the last seven years.

Ex Revenue Employee #2

December 17th, 2010
12:25 pm

Been There Done That
I agree with you on MVD and Perdue messing it up by reorganizing DMVS and sending MVD back to Revenue; that was a very big mistake and waste of millions of taxpayer dollars. I wonder how/why the media didn’t make the public aware of that; but that’s another story. But back to Doug; he was not as bad as you are making him out to be. Yes there were some things that I had problems with in Doug, but the man knew the MVD business and the laws, something Tim does not. Why do you think Bart placed him (Doug) where he is now(Law & Policy)? I apologize for getting Tim Shields name misconstrued, but he had nothing to do with the transformation of that lobby at MVD. That was JD Grant (Executive Asst to Bart) /RPI program doing, get it right because I was there and a part of the management team during the movement.
Bottom line is, the decisions Bart made involving MVD were not good for that Division, he destroyed it. Yes things improved before he fired(RIF)/transferred(only Doug) all those managers, i.e. Lobby area; but now that Division is at a standstill, lifeless with no oxygen; and they got a leader that is on the job training. In a position such as Director of MVD where monthly revenues average over 20 million a month; you must have someone who can come in and do the job. There isn’t any time for sitting back and watching how to do the job; i.e. learn laws, operations, tax commissioners, etc.

BeenThereDoneThat

December 17th, 2010
12:55 pm

I worked with Doug for over 15 years even before he worked for revenue. Never was impressed and working for/with him even lowered my opinion of him. Yes, I know it was JD that started the transformation but it never would have been done under Doug’s watch. I also work with the County Tax Commissioners and only a handful have been upset to see go (but they all are cheering at Bart’s soon departure as he and Perdue did everything in their power to make them look bad).

Tim didn’t sign on to be the Director of MVD and Processing. This was more of Bart’s consolidation of Divisions and it would have put anyone at a disadvantage. Can you imagine the disaster if Doug had been put over Processing? That Department’s turn around was under Tim and because of the leadership role he played there (he didn’t know processing either at the time) is why he was given MVD as well. Honestly I think it is too much and maybe the next Commissioner will see that.

Technically the Director’s job was eliminated so it makes you wonder why Doug was allowed to stay when so many others were pushed out? As someone frequently in the Director’s meetings, it amazed me how many basically laughed at the fact Doug was in their “league”. He was the laughing stock of Directors and was not fit for the job (but neither were many of them either).

But this post was about Bart, and I think we all agree “Good Riddance”. And Mr. “Galt” is right. Bart is still the Commissioner and can still through his weight around, so Rev employees beware. As to me, I’m now in the private sector but I’m still wearing a mask disguise.

Know Thy Facts

December 17th, 2010
4:04 pm

John Galt — you are so wrong, it is almost sad.

Glad I left Revenue

December 17th, 2010
4:15 pm

Jerry Jackson ran a good ship, Barnes was not a problem for Revenue, It started to go down hill with the appointment of Bart, and Barts HR Girl & his Legal Girl Staci Guess Also TO JOHN GALT
Red ED left revenue in Nov 2010

amazed

December 17th, 2010
4:44 pm

Know Thy Facts, is smoking crack!!!!!

the original and still the best John Galt

December 17th, 2010
7:48 pm

Well, boys and girls, another ignorant political hack… and Black Bart just transferred over to the Office of the Treasurer. See what big time corporate connections do for you? Black Bart probably gets a pay raise too, though how you justify paying an SOB that worthless $150,000 a year is beyond me.

At least Red Ed is gone. I hadn’t heard about that. However, McGinnitie is likely to appoint somebody just as bad.

Working for the State ain’t what it used to be.

Glad I left Revenue

December 18th, 2010
12:58 am

THINK ABOUT IT PEOPLE ::: Politicians are crooks and only a cut above a convict why would anybody spend millions of $$$ to get elected to a job that pays peanuts ???? why do you expect any better ??? we need term limites on both state & federal politicians to stop the madness

the original and still the best John Galt

December 18th, 2010
7:35 am

“Glad I left Revenue,” AMEN!!!

As someone who knows....

December 18th, 2010
7:49 am

I’m not really surprised to see Bart Graham removed but still retained. There is something that Nathan Deal does not want to get out that Brat Graham knows. And believe me, I think he would talk to the media about it if he wasn’t still working for the state of Georgia.

Plus, I really do think Graham holds a grudge as “original and still the best John Galt” states. This is the same commissioner that has a guy on staff whose sole function is making sure his Blackberry works. We’ll see how Doug MacGinnitie will do, but if he’s like any of the other Republicans running for office, he won’t know what the heck he’s doing nor have a complete understanding of what he is supposed to be doing (Brian Kemp please stand up). Of course, MacGinnitie is a bigger tax cheat than Nathan Deal (he earned $25,000 one year yet was able to buy a $2 million house?), so do you think he’ll go after tax cheats or let him and Nathan’s friends avoid having to pay? I think he’s going to make sure Nathan Deal’s (and his) state tax problems didn’t happen.

Come On!

December 19th, 2010
1:17 pm

Let’s be accurate when slamming folks here. Nothing wrong with expression opinions but be sure your facts are correct. Galt – Bart Graham never worked for Bank South and I know his wife. She has no ties to the Flowers family what so ever. She was a banker too, though, for many years, if you want to bad mouth her for that.

the original and still the best John Galt

December 19th, 2010
2:19 pm

“Come On!,” it is you who needs to check your facts. Black Bart most certainly was CFO of Bank South, and he has boasted of his Flowers ties on several occasions. As I pointed out, there are also several other connections between Black Bart and various corporations.

the original and still the best John Galt

December 19th, 2010
3:10 pm

I did make a mistake. It was Bank Atlanta, not Bank South, that Black Bart was CFO of. All these bank mergers had me confused. I apologize.

As far as the Flowers connection goes, that came from Black Bart himself, so if it’s not true then perhaps I shouldn’t have trusted what he said.

Come On!

December 19th, 2010
4:57 pm

@Raqeuel – Me too!