Graham out as Revenue Commissioner

Controversial Revenue Commissioner Bart Graham is out of his post, but Gov.-elect Nathan Deal said he has offered him another job.

Graham said he doesn’t know anything about it.

Deal announced late Friday that Graham would be staying in state government, working under State Treasurer Tommy Hills.

Reached by phone, Graham said, “I don’t know anything about a job offer.”

Brian Robinson, the governor-elect’s spokesman, said Graham was offered a job. Graham was out of town Friday and Robinson said there “must be some miscommunication” that will be cleared up.

As revenue commissioner, Deal is replacing Graham with Doug MacGinnitie, who lost a bid for the Republican nomination for Secretary of State this year.

Deal also named Melvin Everson, a Gwinnett County state legislator who lost a race for the Republican nomination for labor commissioner this year, director of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development. And he named a campaign staffer, Gainesville journalist Harris Blackwood, to run  the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.

He named Tonya Boga director of the Office of the Child Advocate, and announced he would retain Debbie Dlugolenski as head of the Office of Planning and Budget.

Graham’s ouster as revenue commissioner wasn’t a surprise.

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.

76 comments Add your comment

juna

December 19th, 2010
9:17 am

The real deal, needs to make some money in a hurry. Go nathan pay off them loans with taxpayer money then get rich..

steve

December 19th, 2010
11:58 am

I am very disappointed in Governor Deal. After how shabbily Perdue treated him during the campaign I would fire anybody who had even the most tangential connection to Perdue. Looks like more the same to me… wonderful.

Mike

December 19th, 2010
12:07 pm

I agree with Steve. More of the same. I voted for Nathan over Karen thinking he would boot the Perdue people and improve this state. The Perdue staff is very bad. I know Tommy Hills. He should have stayed a retired banker. He is a disaster as a leader, manager. Now, he appears to have talked Deal into keeping Bart Graham another egomaniac. Looks like the next four years will be as bad as the last four years with this crew of hacks.

George

December 19th, 2010
12:15 pm

Graham will show me something if he actually tells Deal hell no to a new job and continues to tell what really happend in the private meetings. Still think Deal will be in jail before his term is over.

khc

December 19th, 2010
12:21 pm

george, stay away from the eggnog this early

Deal is a Ho, ho ho

December 19th, 2010
12:23 pm

Deal’s peeps need Sonny’s flunkies to set him up some more biddnesses. Dey is just skratchin’ each others backs. One liddle biddness ain’t enough for Deal. He wants himself a nice setup like Sonny has with his silos, trucks and state port. And land sales. And mysterious bank loans.

Come On!

December 19th, 2010
12:56 pm

For all of those that believe that Governor Perdue and his administration have mismanaged the state for the past 8 years… Have other states manintained their bond rating (Georgia’s has remained a AAA) during this time of NATIONAL economic distress? Governor Perdue has done the best job possible given the circumstances. If Commmisioner Graham had not focused on collecting taxes from those that owe them, our state would be in dire financial condition.

the original and still the best John Galt

December 19th, 2010
2:01 pm

“Come On,” besides his arrogance, the trouble with Black Bart is that he’s incompetent as a tax collector. He has given lip service to collecting from the many tax cheats out there, but if you look at the substance of his work rather than the appearances, he really hasn’t done much.

He has actually been all about privatizing the Revenue Department, and laying off employees. It’s to the point now that all the experienced collectors, the people with years of experience at finding assets and seizing them for the State, are gone. In their place Black Bart uses a number of well connected attornies, all Republican partisans, of course, and several private collection agencies. The attornies cost money, and in turn have to farm out services like process service that used to be done in-house. The collection agencies don’t do anything but wear out the telephone with automatic dialers. They do no field work at all.

If you check the numbers of levies and garnishments filed by these private sector contractors in recent years against the numbers filed when all that work was done in-house you will find that there is only a fraction being done now compared to then, and it’s at much greater expense. Years ago it was nothing unusual for a Delinquesnt Tax Collector to bring in twice his or her yearly salary in one day, and 200 times his or her salary in a year.

Tax collection is unpleasant work, it can be tedious, but in my opinion trying to privatize it like Black Bart has is completely unproductive.

I laugh at these posts that say Black Bart is a real bulldog at collecting taxes. After seven years in office he still doesn’t know how to collect taxes. What he mainly knows how to do is get his name in the papers.

George

December 19th, 2010
2:30 pm

@Come On! Wake up! This state is in dire financial circumstances. Worse, we are horrible when it comes to education. Sonny and his bunch of merry men have only made our position worse. Now, Deal says he will cut more from education. What companies do you think will want to locate here with a workforce as crappy as Georgia. The real damage from Sonny is still to come.

khc

December 19th, 2010
2:37 pm

didn’t both deal and barnes and many other candidates like porter suggest georgia could collect more in sales tax….not sure why, but pretty sure most candidates agreed on this matter……was dept of revenue deficient in this task or were law changes needed and was this addressed by the tax commission…anyone know

the original and still the best John Galt

December 19th, 2010
3:06 pm

First, let me publically state that I made a mistake. Black Bart worked for Bank Atlanta, not Bank South. All these bank mergers had me confused. I apologize.

The issue regarding sales tax was that it is quite possible to install computers at the local level that automatically figure sales tax on each transaction, figure the part that goes to the counties, and send the rest to the State. “Point of Sale” tax collection is done in several other states. It removes some of the filing requirements that merchants have, and it theoretically speeds up the payment of the local portion of the collected taxes.

Black Bart has done away with the Tax Field Agents who used to be charged with checking businnesses in their assigned area to ensure that they were filing and paying Sales and Withholding Taxes. These field checks were vital, in that they let the Sate know when a business started up but failed to register, and they kept non-filers and non-payers from running up such huge bills. For example, a busy convenience store can do well over a million dollars a month in sales, so that’s $70,000 a month in Sales Tax. If they quit paying for six months, that’s $420,000 in tax, not counting interest and penalties, that they would owe the State. And, remember, Sales Tax was never their money. When they are allowed to be delinquent, that’s Theft by Conversion. They take the money that their customers have paid and convert it to their own uses.

As to the question of whether the idea of POS collection has been considered by the Tax Commission, I suppose we’ll find out when their report is published next month.

khc

December 19th, 2010
3:32 pm

so did bart do away with field agents so revenues would be falling so they could ostensibly cut government….fitting in with the overall theme govt. is too big…….

or did he cut agents because of budget cuts and our dumb ass gov and legislature couldn’t figure this out…..

could it have bee privatized?

thanks galt for shedding some light….

khc

December 19th, 2010
3:35 pm

and is it possible convenience stores to short government in motor fuel taxes too?

the original and still the best John Galt

December 19th, 2010
3:46 pm

I think the motivation for doing away with the field agents may have been a little of both the things you mention, khc. It’s mostly that Republicans believe in privatizing governmental functions, whether it really makes any sense or not.

It is entirely possible for those who have to collect motor fuel tax to keep it for themselves, and using the convenience store example again they can run up a huge bill for that too. Sale Tax is usually the biggest money though, and the non-payers usually pay for the BMWs and the in-ground pools with the money they collect from their customers and fail to hand over to the State.

khc

December 19th, 2010
3:57 pm

good gawd……seems like we need state auditor to kick revenue department in the butt…..surely, don’t call me shirley, someone in state government will crack down and at least collect taxes due….and leave the fight over whether taxes are justified or not to others…

ROWHOO

December 20th, 2010
11:37 am

Let’s all just digress a little…..

yuzeyurbrain

December 20th, 2010
2:51 pm

Fellow Jawjuns, you had your chance and you spoke. Back to the future. Marvin Griffin has been reincarnated as Nathan Deal. Next, Deal’s multi-million dollar debt will just magically disappear as he gets in on “the ground floor” of many sweetheart deals. We may hear something about it if some enterprising reporter delves, but there will always be deniability of quid pro quo’s largely based on only talking in front of Deal if there is “a need to know.” And Jawjuns will be happy.

Jay

December 20th, 2010
3:06 pm

Bart Graham was what Georgia needed to start cleaning up a department that had little regard for the taxpayers or providing them with decent customer service. At leaset now, the personnel in the department respond to the taxpayers. Also, aggressive tax collections will be the way to head off any future Georgia tax increases.

Sorry to see Bart reassigned from a position where he made a difference!

the original and still the best John Galt

December 20th, 2010
4:05 pm

“Jay,” you’re dreaming.

Old News

December 20th, 2010
4:14 pm

Jay pass that pipe, we want some that your smoking.

Brian

December 20th, 2010
10:01 pm

Jay – you, like Bart Graham – are twits.

jack

December 20th, 2010
10:31 pm

I liked what Bart Graham brought to the revenue dept we have too many yes-men in
government.

jd

December 20th, 2010
11:29 pm

Deal’s termination of Graham smacks of payback. Of course, real payback is coming when the feds announce indictments related to Rep. Deal’s tenure in Congress. ROTFLMAO! Makes Oxendine look clean and Handel look smart.

Brian

December 21st, 2010
6:49 am

Bart was a yes man. His kissed Sonny Perdue and Tommy Hill’s butt.

Jack

December 21st, 2010
9:31 am

I wish I’d voted for Barnes. A recall is in order. This smells to high-heaven.

Tradeport

December 21st, 2010
4:26 pm

Jay? I got a bridge in Brooklyn New York that’s for sale?