The real money behind Georgia’s race for governor

Republican visitors are likely to be quite common around here this fall.

Partly because Georgia has a hot race for governor. And partly because AirTran Airways this summer gave $75,000 in free airfare to the Republican Governors Association.

There’s nothing stopping them.

According to state law, the largest single check that can be written to a campaign for governor is $6,100. Individuals only — no corporations, please. It is a pleasant enough fiction, best consumed with milk, cookies and a cuddly teddy bear at your side.

In truth, there are much larger sums involved in the contest between Republican Nathan Deal and Democrat Roy Barnes. Much of the cash — but far from all — is beating a path to the doors of two organizations, the Republican Governors Association and the Democratic Governors Association.

Checks to either Washington-based group can be written at any time, for any amount. They can come from individuals or corporations. Consider the two groups as you would a pair of savings and loan firms, places where access to officialdom can be stored in interest-bearing accounts — to be redeemed at the proper time in either Atlanta or D.C.

Spending by the two groups, like the donations they receive, is virtually unlimited.

In the past six months, the DGA has raised more than $17 million. Its biggest givers were the Service Employees International Union, which donated $1.1 million, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which gave $3.3 million.

From Georgia, the DGA drew in $341,977. Including $7,016 in free ticketing from Delta Air Lines.

Over the same period, the RGA raised more than $28 million. Its most famous corporate donor has been News Corp., the parent company of Fox News, which gave $1 million. But collectively, Georgia companies and individuals almost matched that, giving $887,934.

The Georgia figure is already outdated. Gov. Sonny Perdue, a former RGA chairman, hosted a fundraiser in Atlanta after last month’s GOP runoff.

Perdue has done more than hold a single bash. “He knew our telephone number,” said Dick Magurno, senior vice president in charge of government relations for AirTran, explaining the airline’s $75,000 in-kind contribution.

“We don’t proactively contribute to anybody. We respond to requests,” Magurno said. “We are like Switzerland. We respond to both sides.”

And the lack of any donation to Democrats?

“They never came and knocked on our door,” the AirTran official said.
AirTran wasn’t the largest donor on the Republican side. Aflac of Columbus gave $120,000. William Ulm of Bogart, a retired businessman and regular GOP donor, offered up $100,000. The Atlanta firm of Southeastrans, which gave $25,000 to the RGA, acknowledges on its website that it has a contract with the state Department of Human Resources to provide non-emergency medical transportation.

Many Georgia companies played both sides — most giving just a little bit more to Republicans. Coke (Bottling and North America outlets) gave $135,000 to the RGA and $100,000 to the DGA. Home Depot gave $25,000 to the Republican side and $10,000 to Democrats. Southern Co., the utility firm, offered up $100,000 to each side.

The U.S. arm of Intralot, a gaming systems firm with roots in Greece, gave $50,000 for GOP races for governor but $110,000 to Democratic contests.

Both the DGA and the RGA warn donors that their money can’t come with geographic strings. With 37 contested races for governor, cash raised from Georgia won’t necessarily be spent in Georgia, they say. And that is somewhat true.

But in August, the DGA sent $500,000 to the state Democratic Party to help Barnes. And for the past month, the Deal campaign — drained of cash by a runoff with Karen Handel — hasn’t spent a dime on radio or TV ads. Every anti-Barnes ad you’ve seen or heard has been paid for by the RGA.

The two governors associations have adopted different approaches in Georgia. The DGA has left decision-making on spending to the locals. So far, the RGA has kept tight control over its advertising role in the Georgia race — though by law it can’t consult or collude with the Deal campaign.

RGA officials wouldn’t speak to it, but there are only two reasons for such an approach: A) to maintain control and flexibility in spending; or B) a lack of trust between the Washington organization and the local campaign or party.

We have no evidence for B, so we must assume A — that flexibility is paramount.

This week, a state judge ruled that the RGA was remiss for failing to report a last-minute $1 million donation to Texas Gov. Rick Perry for his re-election bid in 2006 — when Mitt Romney was RGA chairman. (Texas has no campaign contribution limits.)

The judge has ordered the RGA to pay a $2 million fine. Mike Schrimpf, the RGA spokesman in Washington, said the decision will be appealed — and will not affect the group’s financial situation in this election cycle.

But the case does show the money that could soon be flowing in Georgia — from both sides.

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60 comments Add your comment


September 4th, 2010
3:07 pm

Fund-raising money for a campaign is the ugly side of Politics, it put people and corporations money where their mouth and values reside. I didn’t know that Airtran Airways donated $75,000 in free flights to Only Republicans, until this article, that money could have gone towards hiring a Airline Pilot and put another Georgian back to work. None the less, I’LL NEVER FLY AIRTRAN AIRWAYS NEVER-EVER AGAIN, I’m going to lobby very hard to bring Southwest Airlines to Hartsfield Airport to compete with Airtran.

Stephanie W

September 4th, 2010
3:16 pm

Add Airtran to the list of companies that will not see a dime of my money. Dang, the list is getting longer every day.

Lone Star

September 4th, 2010
3:32 pm

Airtran, you have my business exclusively forever. Thank you!

Jayne M. Barker

September 4th, 2010
4:48 pm

I’m flying Airtran next month with four of my immediate family.
Thanks, Airtran!! Today is our President’s 49th birthday, I believe??
Fall is in the air, and I am glad…I am a bruised GOPer of long standing…I’m trying to get over it…

Delta for Roy Barnes

September 4th, 2010
4:54 pm

No wondering they charges $15 for bag fee it all going to the Deal pocket…Airtran I would not travel with airtran

No Longer Republican

September 4th, 2010
5:25 pm

Stupid decision Airtran. We won’t be on your plane again.


September 4th, 2010
5:32 pm

I just wish there were a way that I could never have a a low life, sniveling trial lawyer ever again in my life.
O well, I can vote against Roy and at least not have to deal with him.

Lone Star

September 4th, 2010
6:12 pm

“In the past six months, the DGA has raised more than $17 million. Its biggest givers were the Service Employees International Union, which donated $1.1 million, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which gave $3.3 million.

From Georgia, the DGA drew in $341,977. Including $7,016 in free ticketing from Delta Air Lines.”

So, the Dems can fly Delta and spend the money donated by unions. As Jackie Gleason used to say, “How sweet it is!”


September 4th, 2010
6:41 pm

Interesting to note that Airtran’s Magurno did not donate to the DGA because they didn’t ask. Come on. The favorite means for securing funds for a Democrat is through taxation. Asking probably never occurred to the DGA. As far as lobbying Southwest to come and compete against Airtran? Who do you think will fight that the hardest? (Hint: Delta) Additionally, do you think Southwest doesn’t know how to butter bread.? You should take a look. So in the meantime, enjoy sticking it to Airtran on that $300 plus Delta fare knowing you could have spent $100.00.

Southwest Airlines

September 4th, 2010
6:46 pm

I’m with Georgia Forward. AirTRAN is OFF the list … let’s get Southwest Airlines here ASAP!


September 4th, 2010
6:52 pm

….. if I only had a dime for every ‘Never Airtran’ again crusader who subsequently showed back up on an Airtran flight. … ‘What’s stopping you?’ Hint: Money…..This time yours and not someone else’s

Lone Star

September 4th, 2010
7:05 pm

mjc: I believe you’ve got this figured out!


September 4th, 2010
8:20 pm

Because Georgia Backward Forward is pulling for SW Airlines , I will fly nothing but Airtran only Go Airtran! So are you going to boycott all the contributors? Should we boycott anything to do with the unions that try to buy or should I say contribute to the Dems? I would rather have Airtran be asked for a contribution than have the unions extort money from folks.


September 4th, 2010
8:40 pm

For Sale!!! For Sale!!! The governorship of Georgia. Come one, come all, come from the South, West, and (because the sale is inclusive) the North. Come with your check books open. Minimum donation to the cause …. $10,000. Special backroom deals can be negotiated, for a higher sum, of course (free tickets to hot sporting and entertainment events require a minimum of $150,000 and be sure to make it out to a Governors Association so you can give more!). And, let’s be very clear about this, NO ordinary citizens welcome.

Uh, Jim?

September 4th, 2010
9:22 pm

Your statement about corporations not being allowed to give directly to candidates is flatly wrong (”Individuals only — no corporations, please.”). Georgia candidates can accept up to the limit from people, corporations, etc.

I’m sure you’ll go back and check it and change the text with no comment. It’s frankly shocking that the state government “Political Insider” wouldn’t know that fact already from following state campaigns.

It’s no wonder when you see things like this that the AJC is a dying business. Pathetic.


September 4th, 2010
10:05 pm

All my contributions are going to John Monds. I can guarantee that everyone who contributes to his campaign only has the expectation that if he is elected he will work for more freedom and less government. There is certainly no expectation of payback, backscratching or every other political payback that donors to Deal and Barnes can expect. The beauty of voting for and supporting a Libertarian is that you know what you get with the candidate. I don’t want your money, I just want to keep mine. I don’t want to take away your freedom, I just want mine back.

John Monds for Governor. You know that your contibution is a vote for freedom and liberty.

Alabama Communist

September 4th, 2010
10:10 pm

No doubt it gives a whole new meaning to the Name ” Air Republic Corporate Govs”


September 4th, 2010
10:38 pm

Enter your comments here

Deal Supporter

September 4th, 2010
10:41 pm

I’m glad to know that there are other financial issues involved in the race for governor. I saw that Mr. Deal made about 2% of what Mr. Barnes made last year and his team is crying foul somehow. There simply has to be a greater appeal for Mr. Barnes to claim.


September 4th, 2010
10:47 pm

Isn’t this the same Airtran Airways that runs a TV commercial that featured two men on a plane, where one man asks his boss something about the stockholder’s meeting? Is this the same airline?

If you haven’t seen it, the boss tells the employee to send him an email; “Just because we’re (not in the office)there’s no reason to do business differently” So the little guy sends the email, and when the boss gets it he turns to the little guy, and says, “This is from that suckup, Brian about the stockholders meeting. Watch this. Delete!” Then he laughs in his face. “Ha! Ha! Ha!”

Yep, it’s the same airline carrying the same load of baggage, wrapped up in a new law that calls corporations “people”. If the public falls for this,, then we will surely get the government the majority of us deserve.

Bitter EX democrackkk

September 5th, 2010
6:41 am

Georgia, you’ve got the two most pitiful choices for Governor ever. I dont know which one is worse for you. Does it matter anymore? FIRST, you must OUTLAW the democrackkks AND the republicannots! Demopublicans are the most EVIL force controlling us.

Larry Craig

September 5th, 2010
10:19 am

and speaking of airports. tap tap tap. I only fly Airtran.
Me and my buddy boortz.

Jenny Lee

September 5th, 2010
10:21 am

no wonder my Ga power rates ae going up. They are contributing to the associations. I don’t care if they give, but don’t raise my rates because you do.


September 5th, 2010
10:44 am

This is hilarious!

Is this how the big bad “We the People” Tea Party is going to take back the country?

Its fun to just kick back and watch Fox News stir up a frenzy, feeding their viewers a load of crap like “taking back the country.” So gullible, so easily manipulated are the Fox News lovers. Oh, and did I mention just plain stupid. They don’t even know how badly they are being used.


September 5th, 2010
11:05 am

@jenny Lee: GA Power is not allowed to put something like this in the rate base, FYI.


September 5th, 2010
11:38 am

Thanks Airtran for supporting our state! You’ve got my business.


September 5th, 2010
11:47 am

I’ve been wondering why Mr. Monds, the Libertarian candidate, isn’t gaining more support from voters. It seems most people say there is not a choice this year, don’t like either candidate, or it will actually be a vote against someone instead of for someone. Maybe it’s time we give someone else a chance. Couldn’t be any worse than the past 8 years.


September 5th, 2010
11:52 am

Tell us which candidates moving companies (Mayflower, Atlas, etc) are donating to, so that those enlightened folks escaping the A-hole South as it sinks into the abyss will know who to entrust their possessions to.


September 5th, 2010
1:51 pm

Maybe Mr. Monds is getting shut out of the public debates, being ignored by rags like the AJC and such all over the state because there is a conscious effort to make sure that blacks don’t know that he is black and that true conservatives don’t know that there is really a small government candidate running.

Remember, it is never the little people that decide elections. It is always the controlling elite that allow the little people to think that they have decided the election.

Jimbo Nash

September 5th, 2010
4:22 pm


I’d like to hear if the Koch Brothers are involved in Georgia politics. Eric Erickson knows them.

You wonder why the right yells so loud about George Soros and what he does? They are hiding the origin of all the real EVIL that is taking place under David and Charles Koch and their right-wing “let’s destroy the federal government” under Kochtopus.

These people are using the Tea Partiers and Republicans to do their bidding for larger profits at all costs. Unfortunately, the work the Koch’s could end of killing people as they fight against EPA regulations.

You will never hear Beck, Hannity, Limbaugh and little ol’ Boortz say anything bad about the many tinticles of the Koch brothers and their “think tanks” and quasi Tea Party front.



September 5th, 2010
4:48 pm

For those of you wanting Southwest – I agree to have them here merely for the competition. BUT, back when hubs were being bid by Southwest, Delta squeezed(you remember the politics of neputism at the Airport among the great Liberal leaders of Atlanta and the Airport authority right?) the Authority to keep Southwest out. The President of SW has gone on record saying he will never, ever hub out of Atlanta.

Competitions would serve that Airport well. We would be better starting a whole competiting airport in Gwinnett County – but OH! I can already hear the screams.


September 5th, 2010
4:56 pm

And thanks Jimbo!
I had no knowledge of the Kochs. I just looked them up. I am now a huge fan of theirs. I thought only George Soros was out there funding hateful attacks on GOP. The Tea Party movement is a great movement in spite of all the hatred and attempts at painting them evil. If the Kochs are supporters of them and the CATO institute – that says enough for me! I have a new hero in politics.


September 5th, 2010
5:05 pm

Follow the money. Cronan,Kenneth and Deal,Nathan.1602 Athens Highway Gainsville Ga 30507.


September 5th, 2010
5:43 pm

Thanks for publishing this info. The more fed up people get with the power of big money over our election system, the closer we get to amending the Constitution to either outlaw or substantially reduce it. Take a look at what some other countries have done on this.


September 5th, 2010
9:59 pm

If the RGA really wanted to increase employment in Georgia, they should have purchased airline tickets like all the other passengers. No wonder they have no clue about what is really going on in our lives. I bet they didn’t have to pay for checked or carry on bags, either.

Chip Spradley

September 5th, 2010
11:00 pm

Family law attorneys contribute huge amounts to Roy Barnes. Fathers are only to keep attorneys rich and the court house calenders full. He is anti-father.

Independent Observer

September 5th, 2010
11:42 pm

Why side with either side. It’s just who has the most money to buy the votes. And yet the people loose and the corporations and their bought politicians win, not matter what side. They don’t allow outsiders to run without signing their loyalty contract. Money wins, people lose. This system needs to change.

whiskey strong

September 6th, 2010
1:37 am

i’m tired of this apology tour by Barnes…Nathan is a good guy, a gentleman, a statesman, and a man of the people…so all u liberals and un-informed people rationalizing voting for a complete failure need to cut it out.

Robert W. Patrick

September 6th, 2010
1:50 am

Money buys influence, votes, elections! So, is there equality without wealth?


September 6th, 2010
10:45 am

Quit Complaining, and Start Amending — The supreme court says this kind of bribery is “free speech.” Corporate Free Speech…wow, I can’t see the founding fathers intending that in the Bill of Rights.

Who cares where the President was born, lets amend the Constitution to limit this kind of big money bribery in both parties.


Jerry Mandering

September 6th, 2010
11:35 am

I would not want to sit next to Roy Barnes on an airplane. I think he would meld over into the seat next to him. Sort of a redistricting, so to speak.

Lone Star

September 6th, 2010
1:44 pm

Publius: “Who cares where the President was born, lets amend the Constitution to limit this kind of big money bribery in both parties.”

I care where he was born. Why amend the Constitution if laws are not going to be obeyed? It is obvious that the the question of Obama’s meeting the legal requirement to hold the Office of President will be intentionally ignored by many. Do we select which laws we obey and which we ignore? Why waste the time amending the Constitution when those who attain power may choose to disobey the law?


September 6th, 2010
2:30 pm

Lone Star I’m fining you $500.00 for your frivolous post @1:44. Your post is using up valuable blog time and is a complete waste.

The US Supreme Court did uphold the looney tunes Orly Taiz fines. Those fines were the result of her repeated wacko lawsuits that were tying up the courts with her Obama birthing nonsense.

The fine levied against you will, no doubt be upheld by the same court. (Note: you do have a chance to file a mental disability appeal but that is your only chance of avoiding the fine.)

Please be advised that all further frivolous posts will result in an increased fines up to $5,000.00 per post. You may also be banned from further postings until you provide a note from your doctor.

Lone Star

September 6th, 2010
6:20 pm


Update June 10, 2010: In a World Net Daily Exclusive today, Tim Adams, a former Honolulu senior elections clerk, claimed that Barack Obama was not born in Hawaii and “that a long-form, hospital-generated birth certificate for Obama does not even exist in the Aloha State.” Adams was employed by the State of Hawaii in 2008 as absentee ballot box manager and his job was to verify voter eligibility. He told World Net Daily, “There is no birth certificate.” He added, “It’s like an open secret. There isn’t one. Everyone in the government there knows this.”

Adams said that during the 2008 campaign there were questions of Barack Obama’s constitutional eligibility to run for President that the elections office was overwhelmed with requests to verify his birthplace. Adams made some inquiries and was informed by his boss that there was no record of the birth for candidate Obama.

During the 2008 Presidential Campaign there were conflicting reports as to the Honolulu hospital where Obama had been born, Queen’s Medical Center or Kapi’olani Medical Center for Women and Children. Adams said that his office made inquiries with both facilities and was told, “We don’t have a birth certificate for him.” Adams also said that “they told my supervisor, either by phone or by e-mail, neither one has a document that a doctor signed off on saying they were present at this man’s birth.”

T Knight

September 6th, 2010
8:11 pm

How much did AirTran give to Roy Barnes campaign?


September 6th, 2010
8:54 pm

per headlines from tom baxter insider advantage (repub leaning publication), deal’s release of tax returns raises more questions and not as complete as barnes. deal should be ashamed….he knows better than to half arse it, or is that the type of administration he would run….


September 6th, 2010
9:03 pm

Another corrupt corporation using Bush’s tax cuts to fund Deals corrupt campaign.


September 6th, 2010
9:14 pm

Send both parties a message. Vote John Monds for Governor of Georgia.

The Libertarian candidate will be on the ballot despite the lack of coverage by the AJC.


September 6th, 2010
9:34 pm

To those of you who are “boycotting” Airtran due to their GOP contributions, what a bunch of lemming morons. Simply because the AJC choses to highlight one corporation’s contributions to a particular political party you get all riled up. If you really want to be intellectually honest about your boycotts, take a look at the disclosures that all corporations give to various political parties and candidates. Unfortunately, since I don’t have a choice where my tax dollars go, I can’t boycott all of the government unions, due to their giving massive amounts to Democrat candidates, to ensure their members continue to make more, and have more job security, than the average American.

The Centrist

September 6th, 2010
9:57 pm

It is so funny to hear/read the slamming of Soros for funding liberal concepts over the years, but now that the curtain has been opened, praise the Kochs for doing the same thing with conservative viewpoints but with much deeper pockets.