Perdue appoints DNR board replacement for Oaky Woods purchase critic

Outgoing Gov. Sonny Perdue announced late this afternoon that he was replacing a Department of Natural Resources board member who voted against the controversial Oaky Woods purchase with a veteran  lobbyist.

Robert Leebern Jr., whose family was a major contributor to Perdue’s 2006 re-election campaign, will replace Thomas Wheeler as the representative of the 5th congressional district. Wheeler’s term expires Jan. 1.

Leebern of Atlanta is a principal with Troutman Sanders Strategies, where he leads the federal affairs practice and serves on the firm’s board of directors.

Perdue also announced he was replacing coastal representative Jenny Lynn Bradley, chair of the DNR board, with Mark V. Smith of  Savannah, a hotel management executive at Prince-Bush-Smith Hotels and chief executive officer at South Atlantic Utilities.

Bradley’s term also expires Jan. 1.

Earlier this month, the DNR board voted to pay $28.7 million for 10,015 acres of the Oaky Woods property near Perdue’s home.

The board voted 11-6 in favor of buying the land from a group of investors called Oaky Woods Properties LLC. The company had planned to develop the tract with shops, offices and up to 35,000 homes before the real estate market plummeted.

Some DNR board members argued that the state was going to pay too much for the land.

The state agreed to pay $2,874 per acre. In comparison, Oaky Woods Properties bought the tract for $1,600 an acre six years ago.

Wheeler voted against the purchase, saying of the price,  “It was too high.”

Though she didn’t participate in the final vote, Bradley also expressed qualms. “It’s a good acquisition for this state,” she said. “I still personally think the property is too high. I think the state is paying too much money for it.”

Other board members said they voted for the purchase to protect the pristine wilderness from development. State officials said the tract is popular among hunters and fishermen and serves as a home to black bears, endangered plant species and unique prairies.

94 comments Add your comment


December 30th, 2010
6:29 pm

“Other board members voted for the purchase to protect the pristine wilderness from development.” because development in central Georgia has ever been booming? Please at least get your lies to the point of passing the smell test!

mehlmen rings twice

December 30th, 2010
6:59 pm

Of course rallying around state flags and birth certificates was much more interesting.


December 30th, 2010
8:16 pm

corruption. cronyism. hallmark signatures of the Perdue administration.

dorothy stapen

December 30th, 2010
8:20 pm

Sonny Perdue makes me want to throw up!!!

big t

December 30th, 2010
8:28 pm

You think the last 8 years was bad. The next 8 will be worse.

Bama Bill

December 30th, 2010
8:31 pm

George Wallace never came close to this self enrichment crap of Perdue ! What a legacy ?

tom mitchell

December 30th, 2010
8:46 pm

Mark Smith is a huge goober suck-up to Perdue. Mark has allowed his Savannah hotel, the Mulberry Inn, to be used for freeof charge to Perdue for the past 8 years. Mark Smith also owns a majority of the private water utilities in coastal Georgia. Guess who regulates the private water utilities? The DNR Board regulates them, that’s who. The FBI needs to look into this slimy can of worms, ASAP.


December 30th, 2010
8:46 pm

They don’t even care if we know they’re crooks. Isn’t this close to taxation without representation?

chuck padden

December 30th, 2010
8:56 pm

What a mean SOB Sonny Perdue is. His true colors have really come out in these last couple months as he leaves office. This vengeful retaliation against the honorable DNR Board members who had the courage to vote against the corrupt Oakey Woods deal takes the cake. Sonny Perdue puts Charles Walker to shame….and that’s sayin’ something.


December 30th, 2010
9:02 pm

Sonny was a crook in the beginning and he is even a bigger crook now. At least he learned how to steal and fly helicopters while in office. Oh I am sorry, he knew how to steal before he was in office!!!

Board Member

December 30th, 2010
9:13 pm

Is Leeburn related to the Leeburn of the Boar of Regents?

chuck padden

December 30th, 2010
9:21 pm

Rob Leeburn is the son of Don Leeburn. The apple don’t fall too far from the tree.

Do you think its any different any where else?

December 30th, 2010
9:22 pm

Sign of a good politician, is to be able to steal from his constituents without them knowing it….Goes back a long way…. more recently….Clinton, Bush, Locally, Maynard Jackson, Young, Prudue, and even MLK took his fair share…from the people he “freed”. Don’t be blind to it. It’s life go on with it…

Mr Bill

December 30th, 2010
9:33 pm

When the appointments are made on the way out the door you know they are being done to pay political debts. What a way to reward contributors! And at the same time show disrespect to those who were honest enough to question the inflated price for the land. Good, honest politicans don’t last long when they are outnumbered by those without any ethics.


December 30th, 2010
9:36 pm

Completely corrupt!

Gene J

December 30th, 2010
9:52 pm

Wealth redistribution of different kind.


December 30th, 2010
9:58 pm

Funny how all is quiet from all the “We The People” blow hard Tea Party types. As usual.

Don’t forget midnight tomorrow, more madness, big party at Georgia Power headquarters, the lobbyist came through for them too. Big time. The Golden Power rate increase they are now calling it, goes into effect.

The gifts of a voter mandate! We’re just getting started!

Winfield J. Abbe

December 30th, 2010
10:36 pm

The Oaky Woods deal is a completely illegal, corrupt transaction and must be reversed by the Georgia Legislature and new Governor as the first order of business. If not, the federal government should file corruption charges against all of them. Notice who is regulating the 50 failed Georgia banks, not the Georgia Bank regulators, but federal regulators. Notice also that Mr. Perdue is a former Democrat turned Republican. This is the Georgia Way. Until the citizens of Georgia demand some changes, they will continue to get fleeced and fooled. What licensed appraiser would sign off on this corrupt, stupid, illegal transaction paying about two times too much for this swamp land? Georgia is a very physically beautiful state, but its government is an ugly cesspool every day.
Stop idolizing these corrupt good for nothings at the next fourth of July parade, but demand some changes in failed government in Georgia. Mr. Perdue also stacked the UGA Board of Regents with 12 of 18 members UGA graduates or cronies, and lied about the tolls on GA 400 and lied about allowing a public vote on the flag. To lie to the public is a job requirement for politicians in Georgia.


December 30th, 2010
10:40 pm

Sonny will receive his just reward…I just hope he gets it in a week or two


December 30th, 2010
10:44 pm


Oaky Woods is in Houston County, which has been growing at a torrid pace over the past 20 years. It would have been developed and this native Central Georgian is glad it was saved.


December 30th, 2010
11:36 pm


Ga Citizen

December 30th, 2010
11:54 pm

In the report “A SocioEconomic Profile Houston County, Georgia” (page 2) published in 2009

it is stated:

From 1970 to 2006 population grew by 64,598 people, a 102% increase in population.

At an annual rate, this represents an increase of 2.0%.

Over the last 36 years (1970-2006) population growth in Houston County, Georgia has been slower than Georgia and faster than the nation.

I would hardly call this “torrid” growth Ms./Mr. LizellaJacket.

We have once again been sold out by state politicians and don’t even have sense enough to know it. Somehow the old adage about “avoiding the appearance of evil” simply ceases to be understood when one is elected to state-wide office. Elected officials should recuse themselves and their fortunes from any involvement in a state endeavor which would impact them monetarily. Period, end of discussion.


December 31st, 2010
12:05 am

Perdue will go down in history as one of the worst and most crooked governors we’ve ever had. I don’t hold out much hope for the Deal admistration being much better.


December 31st, 2010
12:08 am

The “Deal Real” (another midget with a Napoleon complex, though he doesn’t wear cowboy boots with high heels), will make Sonny look like an amateur. The lobbiest are assembling their goody bags as we speak. The aftermath of this election may turn out to be the biggest tax on ignorance yet.


December 31st, 2010
12:26 am

All of you who voted for Purdue, please signify by signing in!
Come on, somebody had to have voted him in, right?
You get what you vote for….


December 31st, 2010
4:20 am

Georgia is, was and always will be nothing more than a penal colony………..


December 31st, 2010
6:56 am

Do the new appointees’ terms also expire on 1/1/11? Or do they get 4 yrs? Can’t Deal bounce them on Jan 5th or whenever the new regime takes over?

Having just watched the Bourne Supremacy, perhaps the new appointees were put in to gain access to the secret files so they can review and copy or review and destroy.


December 31st, 2010
6:56 am

“Lizzellajacket” Is that you Sonny or someother crooked SOB?


December 31st, 2010
6:57 am

Having grown up not far from Oaky Woods and being an avid outdoorman, I wish the State would have done something when the timber company offered it up for sale. I’m furious about how corrupt Perdue appears to be, but why not be corrupt? Very few people even know about the Oaky Woods situation. In fact of about 10 people I happened to bring this up to, NONE were aware of it, save my brother who lives near there. Americans are more interested in being entertained with TV “reality” shows or the latest gizmo, NOT our society or government affairs. Heck this article was published just over 12 hours ago and has 27 posts? Compare that to whatever the sports news of the day is. Remember Damon Evans and the red panties…. oh how he embarrased and didn’t represent what UGA stands for? Come on. If you were to read only a bit of Cicero, you would realize this entire country is on it’s way down.


December 31st, 2010
7:23 am

Please. The government (federal, state and local) has been buying land for community purposes since the country was founded, and before.


December 31st, 2010
7:26 am

Houston County has seen rapid growth for some time. Why did the state not purchase this land 6 years ago for half the price, when the economy was good and we did not have a deficit?


December 31st, 2010
7:44 am

What are you people whining about? You just voted in an even bigger slimebag than Sonny.

Sam the Sham

December 31st, 2010
7:49 am

Please Uncle Sam…Please at least LOOK at Uncle Sonny. It’s a shame he’s not the governor of Illinois. This would have all been over with years ago.


December 31st, 2010
8:02 am

Georgia legislative leaders cannot find enought money to properly fund the Judicial Qualifications Commission, where corrupt judges are dropping like flies, but they can pay twice the value of property Georgia doesn’t need or can afford and improperly and imprudently waste millions of taxpayer dollars on this YAZOO like land fraud.


December 31st, 2010
8:07 am

Perdue, Deal, Chambliss, Isakson – who do you think they are most interested in? Their own enrichment or iimproving the economic conditions of the state of Georgia?

Just wait until the sweetheart Deals with the Savannah Port begin to become public.


December 31st, 2010
8:24 am

The Governor took care of cronies at the expense of the vast majority of Georgia taxpayers….His actions border on criminal and cross the line of ethical conduct. I am more than offended in a down economy that this sweetheart deal bailed out these speculators and gave them a substantial profit to boot. This shady deal needs to be investigated further for possible prosecution. It is politics, and in this case Republican politics, at there worst. The rich get richer by robbing the poor.


December 31st, 2010
8:41 am

How do we find out who Oaky Woods Properties LLC is? Who is getting this money???


December 31st, 2010
8:44 am

“We the People, lead by the corrupt, will continue to Pay our tax and watch helplessly as our State is steered in the direction of Big Money.” Georgia is officially FOR SALE to the highest bidder!

Too obvious

December 31st, 2010
8:45 am

If you’re naive enough to not understand how crooked Purdue is then this should surely open your eyes. Purdue more than doubled his net worth while in office during a time when the wealthiest people in America all lost a third to half their savings. The only way to accomplish that is by being on the take. Purdue is as crooked a Governor as this state has ever seen while the GOP politicians sit around and watch all this happen as if they bare no responsibility. And that’s due to some of them profiting in the same way.

E. Hamm

December 31st, 2010
8:49 am

Sonny Perdue is low down S.O.B. THAT NEEDS TO BE IN JAIL.


December 31st, 2010
8:49 am

New Deal coming, Jaun get more food stamps and rent money . Have 3 more kids that give me 12 , get new car with the extra money love the land of the free.


December 31st, 2010
9:16 am

i moved from Georgia 15 years ago but for some reason i keep up with thee news in the ajc everyday. still have daughters and grandchildren there. what a bunch of crap with perdue. what a loser. dpn’t know anything about deal but comments look like he is a clone of perdue, what a shame. what we need is a third party, we have no luck with either pubs or dems. i am in favor of public lands for all to enjoy but my goodness, can we not aquire it honestly and frugally?


December 31st, 2010
10:14 am

Purdue,Deal and the incompetent legislature are corrupt and do as they please with taxpayers money.


December 31st, 2010
10:23 am

one only needs to check our educational position to know why we are where we are……the silence of the majority party in this state that excuses corruption because its one of their own is just flat amazing!


December 31st, 2010
10:35 am

Where is the U.S. Attorney? One high-level federal prosecution would put the brakes on this type of rampant cronyism and self-dealing, which has been going on for decades in Georgia. It’s been done effectively in other states–Illinois, even Alabama–but not here. Why not? ? Why do these scoundrels get a pass to use their offices for personal gain and enriching their cronies?


December 31st, 2010
10:36 am

According to the Secretary of State’s site, which is public information, the mailing address of the company’s principal place of business is 1444 Sam Nunn Blvd., Perry, Ga. The public listing of the business at this address is J.L. Williams Development.


December 31st, 2010
11:28 am

Georgia’s republicans are too busy lining their own pockets to care about the future of their own party in the state – Chamblis singlehandedly derailed immigration enforcement in Georgia, which has led to the state’s current status of being ahead of Arizona in the number of illegal aliens. Given the birth rate disparities, the Democrats are well on their way to a majority – look out California, here we come.


December 31st, 2010
12:25 pm

I would think putting an state ethics charge against Sonny Perdue would be a good idea, but Sonny may have replaced the people on that board too.

mehlmen rings twice

December 31st, 2010
12:26 pm

Winfield J. Abbe @ 12/30 10:36 pm
Good point about state bank regulators. Note also that since 2002 Tennessee has had zero bank failures while Georgia has 48 since 2008! You think this is a coincidence? The executive branch in Georgia (the reddest of all red states) since 2002, following the lead of their idols in the Bush White House refused to enforce the bank laws of this state. They created a shadow banking system where there their cronies became the beneficiaries of blatant income redistribution.

Judge Jack Camp

December 31st, 2010
12:28 pm

Y’all leave ole Sonny alone. Just find me some more black drug dealers with white girl friends for me to throw the book at.