Your morning jolt: Ralph Hudgens returns $106k

On Wednesday, virtually every candidate in Georgia was sending out e-mail pleas for donations to pump up their three-month contribution reports that ended at midnight.

State Sen. Ralph Hudgens (R-Hull)/AJC

State Sen. Ralph Hudgens (R-Hull)/AJC

But state Sen. Ralph Hudgens (R-Hull), a candidate for state insurance commissioner, was one of the few pulling money out of his campaign treasury.

From Atlanta Unfiltered:

Ralph Hudgens‘ bid for Georgia insurance commissioner has returned $106,600 in contributions that were transferred improperly last year from his state Senate campaign fund.

The State Ethics Commission has been investigating the transaction since January. Hudgens said [Wednesday] he has signed a consent order, agreeing not to violate campaign finance laws in the future, that assesses no financial penalty.
“No fines, no anything,” he said.

State law prohibits a candidate from transferring contributions directly between campaign accounts for different offices. Hudgens said a commission staffer had told him the transfer would be legal and that the consent order says “something to the effect that I was relying on wrong information.”

In an e-mail, Kathryn Ballou, a spokeswoman for Maria Sheffield, one of Hudgen’s eight GOP rivals to replace incumbent John Oxendine, says the cash withdrawal creates a more even playing field for the mad rush to the July 20 primary:

“With this action, we have a whole new game in this primary. Based on the last disclosure report, Ralph reported $260,127 [cash on hand]. Maria Sheffield reported $144,572 for a difference of $115,549. When you subtract the $106,000, Ralph reports $153,527 and Maria Sheffield reports $144,578 – for a difference of only $8,948.

rboyd

Real estate executive Ray Boyd/AP

Was on the phone this morning with Ray Boyd, the would-be candidate for governor, who on Sunday declared that an independent candidacy would be futile – given Georgia’s ballot access laws.

This spring, Boyd put up $2 million of his own cash as a sign that he was dead serious. The real estate executive said he would be getting most of that cash back.

The millionaire clause in state campaign finance law, which says that a rich donor can only reclaim $250,000, applies only to loaned money that is actually spent, Boyd said.

“You can always give it back to the donor,” he said. And in this case, Boyd was the only contributor to his campaign.

Boyd also said he would be supporting state Sen. Jeff Chapman (R-Brunswick) in the Republican gubernatorial contest – having had some unpleasant dealings with the Jekyll Island Authority.

Keep your eye on this newest polling scandal — one with national scope — involving the Daily Kos and Research 2000. From Politico:

In the final weeks leading up to the June 8 Democratic Senate runoff in Arkansas, no data proved more pivotal in shaping conventional wisdom than a pair of Research 2000 polls showing challenger Bill Halter holding a lead.

And those surveys—which fueled the narrative that Sen.Blanche Lincoln was a goner—may have been bogus, according to the blog that commissioned them.

The prospect that polling data in a Senate contest of national consequence may have been faked has sent shockwaves across the campaign world, raising disturbing questions not only about the reliability of suddenly ubiquitous public polls, but about a new media environment where polling numbers are accepted without question even as they threaten to influence the outcome of campaigns.

The episode marks the second time in less than a year that a pollster’s results came under serious questioning—the Atlanta-based polling firm Strategic Vision, was also accused of falsifying data, and its failure to disclose information about its methodology led to a rebuke from the American Association for Public Opinion Research for violating its ethics rules.

On Thursday, Gov. Sonny Perdue announced that his Judicial Nominating Commission had submitted recommendations to fill the vacancy on the Cobb County State Court created by the resignation of Judge Beverly Collins, wife of District Attorney Pat Head – who is also in his last term.

Among the five names on the short list are two Division II state court judges, a kind of second string: Carl Bowers and Maria Golick. Golick is the wife of state Rep. Rich Golick (R-Smyrna), who served as Perdue’s floor leader until 2008.

The New York Times has this worthwhile read from coastal Georgia:

When the managers from the federal Fish and Wildlife Service talk about this 2,800-acre preserve of moss-draped cypress, palmetto and marsh, they speak of endangered wood stork rookeries and disappearing marsh habitat, dike maintenance and interpretive kiosks.

But when the members of the Harris Neck Land Trust talk about it, they speak of injustice, racism and a place they used to call home.

In 1942, Harris Neck, a thriving community of black landowners who hunted, farmed and gathered oysters, was taken by the federal government to build an airstrip. Now, the elders — who remember barefoot childhoods spent climbing trees and waking to watch the Canada geese depart in formation — want to know why they cannot have it back.

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on Facebook.

8 comments Add your comment

4T9

July 1st, 2010
9:22 am

Oh man! Another crooked politician. Go figure.

samiam

July 1st, 2010
10:07 am

When are you going to do a story on Sonny’s recent appointments loading the Ga.Ports Auth. with his band of cronies.This smacks of getting himself set up for another business venture in Savannah once he’s out of office.He’s a long time friend of mine but I’m sick of his money grubbing self serving B— S—.

No Ox, Noo Raw Deal Nooo Linger Longer Johnson Noooo King Roy

July 1st, 2010
10:34 am

I watched the Atlanta Press Club debates for insurance commissioner and they all sounded worse than our Governor field. Is there an honest person running in this race?

Jeff Pruett

July 1st, 2010
11:09 am

Welcome back, Mr. Galloway. We missed you. We need your wry view on politics!

Hmmmm

July 1st, 2010
11:30 am

Alabama Communist

July 1st, 2010
11:39 am

No doubt the Republican Candiate for Insurance Commissor was trying a new double entry bookkeeping system which went terrible wrong, after he order a on-line Madoff accounting course….

J White

July 1st, 2010
3:39 pm

Hudgens is a crook and a creep. As the fat-cat head of the insurance committee in the Senate he has been taking in insurance money for years and done nothing but help out the insurance companies and hurt the citizens of Georgia. Here is to hoping someone finds something else that this guy has done so that next time they fine him, instead of just letting him return over 100k in illegal contributions.

J.L.

July 2nd, 2010
6:54 am

Where is Jeff Chapman? Oh yeah I forgot, Chapman is honest and cannot be bought out so the AJC won’t put him into any writing pieces!
HEY ALL OF YOU – If you want a real Governor, VOTE FOR CHAPMAN!!! He is an “Elected Official” not a “Politician”!!!