Three senators with income tax issues now off list of delinquents

Three members of the state Senate have cleared up their state income tax problems, according to Eric Johnson, chairman of the state Senate Ethics Committee and a GOP candidate for governor.

In the House, three lawmakers have yet to pay income taxes owed, though one may satisfy requirements by the end of this week, said state Rep. Joe Wilkinson (R-Sandy Springs), chairman of that body’s ethics committee.

In a presser held Monday, Johnson said that, of the three senators, originally on a list issued by the state revenue commissioner for non-payment of state income taxes, “there are none on there now.”

“It’s sad that a little sunshine or a little exposure is sometimes necessary to get people to do the right thing,” Johnson said.

The Savannah senator was the sponsor of S.B. 168, a new state law which discloses the names of scofflaw lawmakers to the ethics commissions of their respective chambers. That report is made only after each lawmaker is notified and given 30 days to correct the situation.

Any member of the House and Senate still in arrears after 30 days is subject to investigation by his or her colleagues.

Earlier this month, my AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin reported that, while House and Senate ethics committees have not disclosed any names, two House members are having their wages garnished for failing to pay taxes: state Reps. Al Williams (D-Midway) and Roberta Abdul-Salaam (D-Riverdale).

Passage of S.B. 168 this year resulted in heated debate, as lawmakers — sometimes very privately, once or twice very publicly — protested being treated more harshly than average citizens, whose tax matters are kept private.

“I think it’s a basic concept to expect that political leaders that tell you to pay your taxes ought to be paying theirs,” Johnson said.

Johnson, one of several Republican candidates for governor, indicated he might try to strengthen the legislation next January, possibly by extending the possibility of disclosure to all local elected officials — school board members, county commissioners, mayors and such. Though Johnson admitted that the examination of the income tax reports filed by several thousand public officials might pose a manpower problem for the Department of Revenue.

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4 comments Add your comment

Park Lover

August 24th, 2009
8:26 pm

Eric Johnson should disclose that one of his major campaign finance functionaries was the beneficiary of a very lucrative & exclusive sweetheart development contract for a resort development and future privatization of Jekyll Island State Park while Johnson was on the Jekyll Island State Park Advisory Board.

TaxCheats

August 24th, 2009
9:34 pm

Tax cheats in government finally “settle” their tax problems? That gives me a lot of faith in our governmental “leaders”

Ron

August 24th, 2009
9:39 pm

Park Lover” has his/her facts straight, Sen. Johnson is piling up a million dollar+ war chest for his run for the Governor’s seat, thanks to having fund-raising guru Jamie Reynolds as co-chair of his campaign finance committee. Reynolds heads up the Jekyll development project for his company, Linger Longer Communities, and Johnson is an ex officio member of the Jekyll Island Authority Board of Directors, a group that has given Linger Longer a sweetheart deal for the Jekyll town center project, handed Linger Longer a monopoly on Jekyll development projects for the next 25 years, and cleared the way for the Reynolds family to privatize park operations. Apparently Sen. Johnson is unfamiliar with the concept of conflict of interests and with the language in the code of ethics for government service which expressly bans the kind of relationship Johnson is involved in with Reynolds.

Will Jones - Atlanta

August 25th, 2009
11:55 am

Making the Honorable Max Cleland Governor of this greatest State of Georgia will obviate Johnson’s transparent hypocrisy and corruption.