Is there some point at which enough is enough in the Ga. governor’s race?
If such a point exists, surely we have now reached it. If such a point does not exist, well, Georgia voters can’t say they weren’t warned.
Ex-Rep. Nathan Deal’s congressional office paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to a Georgia company owned by his top staffer’s wife to fly to and from his congressional district, but the staffer did not report the income on his financial disclosure forms because he claims the couple made no profit.
House rules prohibit Members from purchasing services from a staff member but appear to be silent on purchasing from a staff member’s spouse.
According to House spending records, which detail the finances of each lawmaker’s office, Deal’s office paid Gainesville, Ga.-based Chattahoochee Logistics LLC at least $245,000 from 2002 to 2008.
Former House aide Chris Riley, who now serves as Deal’s campaign manager in the Georgia gubernatorial race, founded that company in 2003 and served as Deal’s pilot on Chattahoochee Logistics flights, as first reported last month by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The company is now in his wife’s control.
In an interview Monday, Riley told Roll Call that he has not received any payment from Chattahoochee Logistics and received no additional compensation for serving as Deal’s pilot on those flights.
“I’ve never received income from Chattahoochee Logistics,” Riley said.
A campaign spokesman referred questions about Chattahoochee Logistics to attorney Randy Evans at McKenna, Long & Aldridge.
Evans confirmed that the LLC “had a single member” at the time it received payments from Deal’s office — Riley’s spouse, Bambi Riley — who would have received any income the company generated.
In other words, House rules prohibit congressmen from using their office budget to buy services from a staffer. Deal and Riley skirted that rule by arranging to funnel payments of at least $245,000 through Riley’s wife. (It’s unlikely that all or even most of that money was profit, since it was paid for services rendered in the form of air travel.)
The Roll Call story also documents $171,000 in earlier repayments by either Riley or Chattahoochee Logistics for violation of House policies.
Riley, who served as Deal’s chief of staff in the House, is now his campaign manager. He has also figured prominently in Deal’s use of congressional staff and resources for his private business interests. Should Deal be elected governor, it is safe to assume that Riley will be named his chief of staff.