Deal’s partner says they ditched lucrative business over safety, moral concerns

The business partner of U.S Rep. Nathan Deal, a Republican candidate for governor in 2010, says they got out of the lucrative state auto salvage inspection business because they fear changes made by the state endanger the safety of Georgians.

“I am deeply concerned that a reduction in safety requirements could result in a liability issue for our company and therefore was not in our best interest,” Ken Cronan said in an email blast Deal’s campaign sent to supporters.

He later added, “This was more than a business decision. It was a moral decision.”

State Revenue Commissioner Bart Graham has said the inspections will be no less safe than they’ve been over the past 20 years, when Deal and Cronan were in the business.

The AJC reported this week that Deal ended his business arrangement with the state that earned his company about $300,000 a year.

State records show that Deal and  Cronan chose not to continue as one  one of the Department of Revenue’s locations where rebuilt salvaged vehicles are inspected.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in August that Deal personally intervened with state leaders to preserve the obscure state program that granted him a regional monopoly. Deal on three occasions in the past year and a half met with  Graham to question changes Graham wanted to make to the program. The state has, since 1982, required any vehicle that is totaled and rebuilt to pass a safety inspection before it can be given a new title.

Deal’s efforts prompted a government watchdog organization, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, to file an ethics complaint against him with the U.S. House. That complaint is pending.

Despite Deal’s efforts, Graham succeeded in altering the program, which has seen little change and no competition since it was established in the 1980s. While Graham’s attempts to make changes through legislation and the state budget were stymied, he used his regulatory power as revenue commissioner to accomplish much the same thing.

Deal and Cronan own and operate Recovery Services Inc., also known as Gainesville Salvage Disposal, which earned $1.5 million in fees from the state from 2004 through 2008, according to state records. The company provided a location and equipment for state inspectors to examine salvaged vehicles. Deal  and Cronan never had to compete for the business, state officials said. Their company was one of five around the state allowed to host the inspections through informal agreements.

Deal personally earned up to $150,000 a year from the enterprise, according to reports he files with the U.S. House.

But new rules took effect in September that ended the state’s relationship with the five firms that hosted the inspections. After Sept. 17, any business that wanted to host state inspectors had to apply to the Revenue Department. The new rules also limited to $50 the fee the businesses could charge owners to have their vehicles inspected by the state. Deal and Cronan had been charging twice that much.

In his campaign missive to supporters Thursday, Deal bashes the “liberal media” for its reporting on the story. It quotes  Cronan citing safety concerns about the new inspection program.

“The decision (by the Department of Revenue) puts Georgia consumers at risk of purchasing a vehicle that has the potential for injury to themselves or other motorists,” Cronan is quoted as saying. “While the state’s previous program had been a model for other states, we are now opening floodgates for vehicles that should not be allowed to return to the highways of our state.

“It will not be long before word gets around among re-builders as to which stations are less than honest and will hand out approved inspections on a wink, a nod and the slip of a Benjamin.”


7 comments Add your comment

usoo

October 8th, 2009
10:31 pm

Now maybe the AJC can look into Deal’s lucrative office space lease he has with State of Georgia in Hall County. A deal he cut when he was State Senator about 20 years ago and still going on today.

George

October 9th, 2009
8:56 am

“Methinks a wink, a nod and the slip of a Benjamin” are SOP for Deal and his cronies.

Republican Gut Check

October 9th, 2009
11:29 am

It is pretty apparent who is considered the real threat to Roy Barnes and the Democrats in 2010. If Deal were not a factor, Republican opponents wouldn’t be leaking videos and helping manufacture stories like this. If Karen Handel ever becomes a serious contender, they need to give her lack of experioence, education, and depth in the issues the same scrutiny as they are the legitimate candidates. As mnderate as Karen is, however, don’t expect for anyone to ask her a question that she can’t read the answer off her cue cards.

THE GAME

October 9th, 2009
5:04 pm

When you’re caught with your hands in the cookie draw, just blame the “liberal media”. What about the “drive by media”? Does any of these “dittoheads” think for themselves?

catlady

October 10th, 2009
8:51 am

It became a “moral decision” when the state decided to cut the subsidy (no bid) that Deal’s company got in half, and attention was focused on the profit he made. Funny about that.

damn shame

October 10th, 2009
9:02 am

I am glad I have not reached the point where free enterprise republican with a business that is a monoply don’t suprise me. IT IS STILL A DAMN SHAME. Instead of seeing what is morally and ethically wrong with things like that, people still see liberal media, democrats, republican, drive by media..

dawgmanwayx

October 15th, 2009
10:42 am

Moral issue?!?!? hahahahahaha! It would’ve been better to just not comment on this issue, rather than showing that they feel the general public (ie. prospective voters) are absolutely clueless dumbasses.