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 31st, 2010
12:31 pm

Please remove comments by ms chokes on dic a lot! Good grief!

mehlmen rings twice

December 31st, 2010
12:40 pm

SmyrnaGuy @ 6:57 am
You are 100% correct! I tried to bring this up at work but everyone was too excited about a football pool. Sonny knew he had the green light to be corrupt. All he had to do is bring up “hot button” issues like state flags and the flock falls right in line.


December 31st, 2010
12:41 pm

You all get what you deserve. You all hated Obama so much for obvious reasons that you voted these good ol bible toting boys into office. Perdue got in because some of the whites were mad that Roy changed the flag. How can a state as poor as Georgia be against healthcare reform? Because the good ol’boys told them to be.

When you vote out of anger and hate you reap what you so.

Where is the Tea Party? What time is the march on the capital? As long as it isn’t Obama anything can be done without protest.

I am a republican myself and I can see what’s going on. When you have a racist, uneducated, base of supporters this is what happens.

mehlmen rings twice

December 31st, 2010
12:54 pm

FMX @ 12:41 pm
Calm down please. All the Bonaire and Gainesville Grannies headed to Biloxi after cashing their welfare, err Social Security checks don’t want to read this about their honorable governor (and governor elect). Plus you know that anyone who has the courage to challenge King Sonny deserves to be fired anyway.

Duluth Dynamo

December 31st, 2010
1:50 pm

As a die-hard Republican I am disgusted with the “Kathleen Kook”, AKA: Sonn Purdue! Having said that, however, apparently no one on this blog is old enough to have lived through 50+ years of Socialist Progressive (AKA Commies, Demos, etc.) rule that preceded the Republican rule of the past several years. Roy Barnes is a choir boy compared to the absolute inane stupidity of that crowd (er, were your old enought to remember one of the stellar rules the Socialists enacted, the “County Unit System? How about voting down “them damn Atlanna Banks” so that GA – instead of becoming the prime banking center of the South = became instead an also ran. There ain’t enough space here to detail the misdeeds of the Socialist Democrats during the 40’s, 50′, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s and into the nineties. Barnum and Bailey hired most of them when they were finally voted out of office.


December 31st, 2010
2:42 pm

You got what you paid for in Perdue for 8 years and now you have the Real Deal for another 4 to 8. Hope you are satisfied but this is just the beginning.


December 31st, 2010
3:04 pm

They will sell it back to the developers in a few years at $1,000 per acre and say they are getting rid of excess property.

mehlmen rings twice

December 31st, 2010
3:12 pm

Sam the Sham @ 7:7:49 am
What makes you think King Sonny would be disciplined even if the feds looked at his actions? If Judge Jack Camp’s plea deal doesn’t penalize him for possessing a handgun even though he was caught with one what makes you think they would be tougher on King Sonny?

mehlmen rings twice

December 31st, 2010
3:15 pm

Michael @ 3:04 pm
Stop it! You know the sale price will be more like $1,100 per acre.


December 31st, 2010
5:20 pm

What ever happened to this 21 million dollar loan? Haven’t heard the outcome.

AJC 1/18/09
In March 2007, Perdue borrowed $10 million from AgGeorgia. A few weeks later, he paid off a 1996 loan. In December 2007, Perdue took out another loan from AgGeorgia, this one for $3 million.

Then, last Sept. 26, he borrowed the $21 million and repaid the two loans from 2007. The $21 million was due five months later.

Last fall, AgGeorgia lent to Perdue even though his collateral covered just 19 percent of the loan value. The deed that secured the loan shows Perdue put up 13 pieces of real estate — including his home in Bonaire — worth about $1.6 million. He also pledged his businesses and all their assets — another $2.3 million, according to his 2006 financial disclosure.

The lender — a farm credit bank based in Perry — allowed Perdue to put up collateral worth less than 20 percent of the loan’s value, according to a security deed filed in Houston County Superior Court. Commercial lenders typically insist on a far greater level of collateral, and the federal agency that regulates farm banks requires strict underwriting standards to guarantee loan repayment.A board of 23 farmers and agribusiness owners govern the bank. Perdue’s 2006 campaign collected $6,770 in donations from eight board members, their close relatives or companies they control, records show.


chuck padden

December 31st, 2010
5:49 pm

Mark Smith, who just got appointed to the DNR Board by Sonny, is one of the biggest Water Lords in Georgia. His water company is supposed to be strictly regulated by DNR/EPD. He has had frequent run-ins with DNR and now he is in the cat bird’s seat. Sort of like having a defendant in a jury trial being allowed to serve on the jury hearing his case. Sonny Perdue cares nothing about the environment unless he stands to make a fast buck. Thank you, Georgia voters, for giving us such a slimebag as Governor for 8 years.

john boy

December 31st, 2010
6:25 pm

Kevin Kennerly has nothing to worry about in Gwinnett. He can say our Governor does it, why can’t I ?


December 31st, 2010
7:52 pm

Houston County doubled its population. I don’t know where Ga. Citizen lives but I do know an additional 64,485 folks would make it a little too crowded for me in my county. This county was a rural area. Oh well, not any more.

another voice

December 31st, 2010
7:55 pm

I have to agree that King George (Ervin Perdue) III is one of the most corrupt and vengeful governors this state has ever had. What sets him apart from others is that previous ones at least had some concern for the general populace of the state. Sonny on the other hand is concerned with only his welfare and that of his closest allies and friends at the expense of the welfare of the people. If anyone gets in his way he kicks them out the door.

Just wondering…could the DNR members whose terms expired have been reappointed for another term?

Also, property values in Houston County while not as depressed as other areas, are not quite as high as they were when the Oaky Woods property was purchased by the developers. It makes no sense that the state pay almost double for property that has not increased in value over time and then only purchase 2/3 of what could have been purchased a few years ago.


December 31st, 2010
8:21 pm

No one on here can tell me how Sonny Perdue will make one nickle off this deal. The state of Georgia could have bought this land for almost half the price 6 years ago, but they didnt. Now they want to save it from developers, you would think that would make you tree hugging liberals happy! But as usual, your just looking for something to complain about. Its my understanding that the money being used for this was money set aside for just this purpose, ” to buy land”. And for the peope who lead off their rant with the ” I’m a republican BUT” Yea right!

I admit it

December 31st, 2010
8:26 pm

I admit I voted for Perdue, but after the first 2 years of the first term realized what an unethical sleaz bag he was. If you want to look into something else, he’s promoting N.Georgia reservoirs while buying up land to trade or sell for wetland mitigation. Sonny has doubled or
tripled or quadrupled his net worth with one underhanded, inside deal after another. How can we get US Attorney or FBI to conduct an investigation????


December 31st, 2010
8:54 pm

Who regulates the folks who made the 21 million loan to Perdue? Are bank examiners involved? Is the FDIC involved?
Or is it another federal agency with looser (or zero) rules on lending and shareholder/taxpayer exposure to default?
Just curious.


January 1st, 2011
12:09 am

Perdue Land Scandal Timeline
Credit – Georgia Heritage Council

July 15, 2003 – Maryson, LLC, (limited liability corporation) is formed by Rep. Larry O’Neal on behalf of Mary & Sonny Perdue
July 23, 2003 – Maryson, LLC buys 101 acres of Houston County land abutting Oaky Woods WMA for $303K — tax records indicate it’s now worth $750,100 according to AJC since Oaky Woods sold in 2004. Tax records show that Gov. Perdue paid the tax bills for the land in 2003 (Maryson, LLC) and in 2004 (himself).
August 12, 2003 – Gov. Perdue appoints Newnan developer Stanley Thomas as Member-At-Large to the Georgia Economic Development Board – Governor’s website
February 20, 2004 Weyerhauser announces intent to sell all its timberland in Georgia (including Oaky Woods tract)
May 2004 – DNR Commissioner Lonice Barrett (who now holds a “key position on the governor’s executive staff”) turned down The Nature Conservancy’s offer to bid $26 million for the property if the State would document intent to buy the land from the Conservancy at an unspecified future date.
May 2004 – Maryson, LLC transfers Houston County land into Perdue’s name nine days after Barrett refused offer from The Nature Conservancy.
Late June 2004 – Houston County developers announce they are the winning bidders for Oaky Woods tract
June 22, 2004 – Perdue and sister sell 318 acres inherited land near Hwy 96 in Bonaire; Perdue nets $2.9 million (money used to purchase Florida land)
September 14, 2004 – Houston County developers close on Oaky Woods tract property for $32.1 million
December 17, 2004 – Perdue buys 19.51 acres never seen for $2 million in Osceola County, Florida along a toll-road leading to Disney World from Stanley Thomas (via Fourth Quarter Properties) situated in Thomas’ development there and the property is expected to sky-rocket in value (estimates vary from $20 to $40 million).
February 16, 2005: House Ways & Means Chairman Larry O’Neal (R-Warner Robins) files an administration tax bill, House Bill 488, that defers taxes on land sales starting in 2005 when “like” property is purchased in another state.
March 4: O’Neal’s committee approves HB 488.
March 11: House passes HB 488.
March 17: Senate Finance Committee approves HB 488.
March 22: Senate Rules Committee sends HB 488 back to Finance Committee for changes on the motion of Sen. Mitch Seabaugh (R-Sharpsburg).
March 22: O’Neal, a lawyer who has filed land partnerships for Perdue and his wife, brings HB 488 to the Senate Finance Committee with a change, making tax deferment provision applicable to land bought beginning in 2004, instead of 2005. Committee approves new version on a motion by Senate President Pro Tempore Eric Johnson (R-Savannah). Revenue Commissioner Bart Graham, whose department wrote HB 488, says he wasn’t at the meeting.
March 29: Senate approves HB 488. O’Neal presents new version to the House without taking questions from chamber members, and it passes in three minutes.
April 11: House formally transfers the bill to Perdue for his signature
April 12: Perdue signs HB 488 into law.
April 15, 2005: Perdue’s tax advisor takes advantage of tax deferment enacted by Perdue’s signature three days earlier to save Perdue $100,000 in 2004 state income taxes. The Georgia tax commissioner has acknowledged that Perdue was the only Georgia citizen to take advantage of the special retroactive provision in the tax law.
January 4, 2006 – Fourth Quarter Properties, owned by Stanley Thomas, contributes $250,000 to Georgia Republican Party. GA Ethics website
May 2006 – The Georgia Republican Party begins running ads for Sonny Perdue even though Perdue still faced a qualified Republican opponent, Ray McBerry, in the July 18 primary.


January 1st, 2011
12:55 am

From the comments all you know we are being screwed.You just don’t recognize the problem because lots of you contribute.


January 1st, 2011
7:27 am

whatever happened to the 20+ million loan the gov got? and how did he pay it back?


January 1st, 2011
8:55 am

Sonny is still acting like the Democrat he was, and we have another one on the way.

Ima Damn Crook

January 1st, 2011
10:53 am

I can’t believe I was stupid enough to vote for this unethical crook called a governor. He is the most crooked Governor since Talmedge!!!

Ima Damn Crook

January 1st, 2011
11:03 am

Speaking of crooks, wonder why the AJC is not reporting the “KKK” crap the the state minority leader,Sen Brown-D of Macon spouted on a local TV talk show? Then when attempting to backtrack with lies at a news conference , saying he was only referring to sexual trysts of Republicans with lobbyists,one of his goons assulted a newspaper photographer. How about it AJC???Why the coverup??? It couldn’t be because he is a demo could it???


January 1st, 2011
1:13 pm

Let’s just hope there is a special place in hell for Sonny Boy and his ilk. Can’t believe the people of Georgia elected this scumbag crook two times and now they’ve put an even bigger crook in charge.


January 1st, 2011
2:38 pm

expect nothing but the same from Deal….. big time lobbyist get big time jobs…. the fox is guarding the hen house… DCH now to be led by hospital lobbyist….. guess who will get the big piece of the pie?? All thse hospitals want is money they dont care if legit or not. Look at Deal’s appointments and they smell like two week old trash already. Pffffft. Damn Georgia Good Old BOY Parties. pad each others pockets.

hoco resider

January 1st, 2011
4:08 pm

The ga ethics board is chaired by and friend of Sonny’s,Sonny Watson. Don’t leave out Senator Ross Tolleson who goes to church with Charles Ayer and Scott Free,principles in Oaky Woods LLC. Senator Tolleson is also the senate chair of the Ga DNR. Charlie McGlamery,another princlple in Oaky Woods LLC, bought 400 acres of land locked swamp land from Senator Tolleson for $2,000,000.00 a few years ago. This scam was planned years ago and has been executed as the Crooks leave office.


January 2nd, 2011
12:37 am

This guy is going to make Sonny look like a choir boy. It is going to be very difficult to distinguish Georgia’s government from any third world banana republic’s.

Washington Post

AMONG THE many frustrating aspects of the congressional ethics process is the fact that, in the rare circumstances when the ethics committees seem poised to act against a member of Congress, lawmakers can short-circuit the inquiry by resigning. Once they’re out the door, Congress loses its jurisdiction to discipline them. Georgia Republican Rep. Nathan Deal might have had that solution in mind when he resigned March 21, just minutes before the ethics committee faced a deadline to act in his case


1. In 2008 and 2009, Representative Deal sought to preserve a
state vehicle inspection program that had generated significant
personal financial benefit for him and a business partner. Representative
Deal attended meetings on the state inspection program
with Georgia officials and told the OCE he attended the
meetings, not as a private citizen, but rather as a ‘‘public servant’’
acting in some official capacity. Changes to the vehicle inspection
program concerned a purely state issue and according to state officials,
no other Member of Congress from Georgia involved themselves
in it. Thus, the Board concludes that there is a substantial
reason to believe that Representative Deal may have violated
House Rule 23, clause 3 and Rule 5 of the Code of Government
2. In addition, Representative Deal was accompanied by his Chief
of Staff at meetings on the vehicle inspection program and directed
the Chief of Staff to use a House email account to send emails related
to the meetings. Thus, there is substantial reason to believe
Representative Deal violated the House Ethics Manual’s prohibition
on using House equipment and resources for personal business
3. Representative Deal disclosed $50,001 to $100,000 in unearned
‘‘Dividends’’ income (and unearned ‘‘Partnership Income’’ on an
amended form) from GSD on his 2009 Financial Disclosure Statement
(covering calendar year 2008). However, the same income was
described as earned wages on his 2008 personal income tax forms.
Specifically, Representative Deal’s 2008 tax documents show
$75,000 in GSD wages; in addition, Representative Deal received a
W–2 from GSD in 2006, 2007, and 2008. Thus, there is a substantial
reason to believe Representative Deal violated the House Ethics
Manual’s directive to disclose all earned income.
4. Further, Representative Deal rendered some degree of service
to GSD in 2008 and 2009 and his 2008 taxes show $75,000 in GSD
wages. Thus, there is substantial reason to believe Representative
1 H. Res 895, 110th Cong. (2008) (‘‘the Resolution’’).
2 Id. at § 1(e) (2008).
3 A preliminary review is ‘‘requested’’ in writing by members of the Board of the OCE. The
request for a preliminary review is ‘‘received’’ by the OCE on a date certain. According to the
Resolution, the timeframe for conducting a preliminary review is 30 days from the date of receipt
of the Board’s request.
4 According to the Resolution, the Board must vote (as opposed to making a written authorization)
on whether to conduct a second-phase review in a matter before the expiration of the
30-day preliminary review. If the Board votes for a second-phase, the second-phase commences
the day after the preliminary review ends.
5 Id. at § 1(c)(2)(A)(ii) (2008).
6 The 14-day extension expires after the 45-day second-phase review ends. The 14-day extension
does not begin on the date of the Board vote.
Deal violated the earned income limitation, House Rule 25, Clause
5. Representative Deal is the GSD corporate secretary. His 2008
taxes show $75,000 in GSD wages. Thus, there is substantial reason
to believe Representative Deal violated the prohibition on receiving
compensation as a corporate officer, House Rule 25, Clause
6. Representative Deal also failed to disclose his status as the
GSD corporate secretary on his financial disclosure forms. Thus,
there is substantial reason to believe Representative Deal violated
the House Ethics Manual’s directive to disclose all nongovernmental
positions held.

jeff souter

January 2nd, 2011
9:15 am

Perdue recommended the projects and state legislators voted for them — and added others of their own.
Everybody else steals from the taxpayer. Why not me ?
Well Sonny, You shouldn’t because it amounts to fiduciary abuse and lack of integrity.
(bend over with Astroglide)


January 2nd, 2011
9:39 am

All of you chumps who voted for the “Real Deal” because of his tough stance on immigration – did you really think that he was going to deport his fat cat supporters’ taxpayer subsidized, cheap labor. Wake up – you have been had, once again.

AJC 1/2/10
“What is popular with the conservative voter is not necessarily popular with conservative leaders,” he said. “Some of the most conservative people in town, ultra-conservative people, call me asking how they can legalize their immigrant employees.”

Deal said on the campaign trail he supports an Arizona-style law, which allows police to question the immigration status of people they stop for other violations. This week, he said immigrants “have provided an important element to the workforce” and supports a “thought-out, narrowly crafted” immigrant worker bill.


January 2nd, 2011
9:42 am


January 2nd, 2011
10:00 am

Where are the idiots who put this man into office. Just another part of the good old boy network.


January 2nd, 2011
11:09 am

yea let’s hear it from td and last man


January 2nd, 2011
11:19 am

I find it interesting that the news media didn’t investigate or publish all of Purdue’s financial dealings until he leaves office. Were the media so intimidated by Purdue or are they part of the problem? I am sure nothing will be found out regarding Deal’s dealings until he leaves office. Posters on this site were able to come up with some detailed information regarding Purdue; where are the investigative reporters?


January 2nd, 2011
11:32 am

Mastrr 10am you got it correct.Vote D or R the results will be same.

John Galt Jr.

January 2nd, 2011
3:07 pm

Did someone say Georgia was a penis colony?


January 2nd, 2011
5:13 pm

Everyone knows that fat butt Sonny Perdue is crooked and all he did while he has been in office is line his own pockets and fatten Houston County. Pork spending is expected in politics but Sonny really overdid it in Houston County. I live near him. I know him. And that is not something that I am proud of. I am ashamed of what he has done while in office. Some have said that Deal is just as bad as Sonny. I beg to differ. The real loser and thank God he was not elected was and is Roy Barnes. What a joke!!! I look forward to Deal serving as governor of GA and so what if NE GA gets a good slice of the pie. At least fat butt will be out of the picture.


January 2nd, 2011
6:52 pm

Perdue will be remembered as one of the most corrupt and ineffective governors in GA history. Sadly, the people of GA elected him to 2 terms.


January 2nd, 2011
10:10 pm

Oaky Woods Properties LLC is listed in the GA Secretary of State records as active/noncompliance. It was formed June 23, 2004. The Registered Agent is Scott Free at 1271 S HOUSTON LAKE RD
WARNER ROBINS GA 31088. Is Oaky Woods owned or partially owned by anyone in the Perdue family?


January 2nd, 2011
10:59 pm

(1) Go to Houston County, Georgia Tax Assessors Website. (2) Search by Owner Name (3) Type in Oaky Woods (4) Ten parcels are listed – click on any of the ten – map it option. (5) Mailing address for tax bill is 1444 Sam Nunn Blvd., Perry (6) Go back to Search Options and Search by Location Address (7) Search for 1444 Sam Nunn Blvd (8) Owners Name – Sports Center Management, Inc. (9) Go to Georgia Secretary of State, Corporations Website (10) Choose Corporations Search (11) Type in Sports Center Management (12) CEO is Charles R Ayer, CFO is Diane W Ayer


January 3rd, 2011
12:46 am

“The company had planned to develop the tract with shops, offices and up to 35,000 homes before the real estate market plummeted.” Evidently not in Oakey Woods.


January 3rd, 2011
1:08 pm

a least we enjoyed one good year of low gas prices!Dont look forward to the next 8 years though.


January 3rd, 2011
1:54 pm

no more free goverment provided insurance for politicians and family, make them buy their own!jus like the rest.


January 3rd, 2011
5:43 pm

How is it that Florida elects respected governors like Jeb Bush, Bob Graham, and Rubin Askew, and Georgia elects bozos like Sonny Perdue and Nathan Deal?


January 3rd, 2011
7:06 pm

At last, Georgia is 1st in something.