Your morning jolt: State lawmaker owes Georgia Southern $52k in broadcast revenue

You can now count Cecil Staton, the Senate majority whip, among the many state lawmakers in serious financial trouble.

Georgia Southern University says the Macon Republican and his company, Georgia Eagle Media, owes more than $52,000 in shared advertising revenue generated through radio broadcasts of the school’s football games.

According to 13WMAZ in Macon, Staton signed a five-year deal with the university in 2006:

From the TV station’s website:

The university’s response to 13WMAZ’s open-records request showed Staton’s last reply to Georgia Southern dated May 24.

In it, Staton did not directly acknowledge the late payments, but wrote, “As a local business, we are barely surviving the worst three years broadcast media has experienced in decades due to the bad economy. At just the most difficult time for us you simply send a letter saying that’s it. No call to a friend. No word of warning.”

What the WMAZ report doesn’t mention is that Staton chairs the higher education subcommittee of the larger Senate committee that oversees the state budget.

***
Also raising eyebrows in Macon: The endorsement of two Democrats by state Rep. Allen Peake, a fervent Republican. Peake has clashed frequently and loudly with former state Senate Democratic leader Robert Brown, who resigned this month to run for mayor of Macon against incumbent Robert Reichert.

Wrote Peake in an e-mail to his GOP audience:

The election will be decided in the Democratic primary on July 19. If you normally only vote in the Republican primary, and live in the city, your vote will only be heard if you vote in the Democratic primary. The choice is very clear – Robert Reichert. While I may not always agree with Mayor Reichert, you can never doubt his integrity (he pays his property taxes and files his state income tax returns on time), and you can be assured he will never embarrass our community…..

Brown’s campaign has incorporated Peake’s endorsement into a fundraising communiqué:

We must not let Republicans chose our leaders. We definitely do not need to let them defeat one of our strongest Democrats in Georgia. When this Republican leader and other Macon Republicans attacked President Barack Obama, then-Senate Democratic Leader Robert Brown placed billboards all over Macon for six months expressing support for President Obama.

Peake also endorsed Democrat Miriam Paris in the contest to replace Brown in the Legislature. Also in the contest is veteran state Rep. David Lucas.

***
GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty was the kicked tire at a West Paces Ferry Road fundraiser that drew $100,000, according to Todd Rehm of PeachPundit.

Lori Geary of Channel 2 Action News snagged the only interview with the former Minnesota governor, and asked Pawlenty whether he regretted not delivering a punch when asked about “Obamneycare” during that New Hampshire debate a few weeks ago.

Pawlenty said he did. “It was a direct question. I should have answered it more directly,” he said. The video:

***
Today’s AJC Politifact Georgia tests GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich’s comparison of his campaign staff woes to those of Ronald Reagan in 1980.

***
In an email to constituents, state Rep. Calvin Smyre of Columbus, the former chairman of the state Democratic party, announced that he’ll be laid up as of today with hip surgery at Hughston Orthopedic Hospital in Columbus.

Wrote Smyre, one of the longest-serving members of the Legislature:

”I will spend approximately three to five days at the hospital for recovery and observation, and then home to recuperate. I will likely be out of the office for approximately three weeks.”

Which means he should be up on his feet again just in time for the special session to address redistricting.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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91 comments Add your comment

HelpUsBeth

June 29th, 2011
8:57 am

We need Beth Merkleson to dive off the top rope and give GSU a beat down! Blast out some lies on Georgia Southern and hammer them into submission! Nobody kicks arse like a tranny on a tirade! We want Beth! We want Beth!

GoodScout

June 29th, 2011
8:57 am

Another crooked Republican? That’s redundant! AJC, save some ink and just let us know when you find an honest, ethical Republican who’s working for his constituents and not the corporations and banks that slip him money. That should free up plenty of space for more baseball scores.

KnockKnees

June 29th, 2011
8:58 am

Staton Chairs the powerful Appropriations Sub-Committee on Higher Education and oversees much of the state funding received by Georgia Southern University. It was a conflict of interest for him to enter such an agreement and a screaming conflict of interest for the Chairman of this committee to attempt to beat the university out of $52,000. The Senate leadership is rotten to the core.

Beth Merkleson

June 29th, 2011
8:58 am

I sent those clowns a check weeks ago!

Beth-I-Hear-U-Calling

June 29th, 2011
8:59 am

Senator Merkleson should have been paying her debts instead of blasting emails across Georgia running down her Republican colleagues. Shame on her!

PhorReel

June 29th, 2011
9:00 am

The FDIC won’t let Senate Banking Chairman Jack [Murphy] use an ATM and now Chairman Staton dares Georgia Southern to bite the hand that feeds them. Tommie Williams and Washington Lobbyist Chip Rogers have turned the Senate into a laughing stock.

Dream Team

June 29th, 2011
9:00 am

Staton got caught red handed pulling the super juvenile Beth Merkleson stunt and he’s still in the Senate? Williams, Rogers, Cowsert and Cecil Merkleson – Anything’s possible.

Curious N Cherokee

June 29th, 2011
9:01 am

What was result of secret caucus investigation on Staton’s Beth Merkleson affair? I’m sure if he was cleared the report would have been widely released. If guilty, how on earth is he still in the senate? What does it take to get tossed from that crowd?

Washington Watch

June 29th, 2011
9:03 am

Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers pockets Kucinich cash to lobby against our troops in Washington, Chairman Jack Hill is being sued by FDIC and is in foreclosure while lording over Georgia banks, and Staton cross dresses online and leverages his Chairmanship to steal $52,000 in ad revenue from the very University he presides over. Somehow I’m forgetting whatever flaws Cagle ever had.

Weiner Merkleson

June 29th, 2011
9:04 am

Congressman Anthony Weiner and Senator Staton both said they were hacked by someone trying to hurt them politically BUT they did not want a criminal investigation to find the culprit. At least Weiner finally had the decency to resign. It looks like we’re stuck with Senator Merkleson until she gets primaried next summer.

Name That Tune

June 29th, 2011
9:05 am

So will someone write a song about Staton this time? The Merkleson tune was pretty catchy. Where have you gone old Beth Merkleson?

PeachState Patriot

June 29th, 2011
9:11 am

says in story amount in question is based on advertising. the question is, did he collect the money and not pay or did the advertisers not pay him so he doesnt have the money?

and, you are right Knockknees, how can he be in that leadership position and have this relationship with a state school? does sound like conflict

catlady

June 29th, 2011
9:21 am

He has the leadership position and still has the fiduciary relationship with a state school BECAUSE HE CAN! Who will call him out on it? If they do, there will be more positions cut from the Ethics Board! I am fed up with all these swine, in pretty much every elected leadership position in this state!

northfultonite

June 29th, 2011
9:31 am

Pay up…if not cash, donate some broadcast equipment to GaSou. They need it. Go Eagles!

Danny O

June 29th, 2011
9:46 am

@PhorReel, Washington Watch: Sen. Jack Murphy is the head of the Banking and Financial Institutions Committee. Sen. Jack Hill chairs Appropriations.

Sen. Murphy is the one who is being sued by the FDIC for alleged gross negligence and breach of fiduciary duty as a board member of Integrity bank. Also a foreclosure sale has been scheduled for Tuesday on some property that he failed to make mortgage payments on. There is no doubt to me that there are other members of the Senate who are more qualified to chair the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee.

Go Eagles!

June 29th, 2011
10:10 am

Aren’t we talking football here? As much as I love the Eagles, I hope they don’t get state tax dollars for the football program!

Cornelia

June 29th, 2011
10:22 am

Georgia voted for these swine knowing they were crooks. So complaints now are useless.

Bobby

June 29th, 2011
10:34 am

While are there are at least 4 honest Republicans in the NY Senate, Georgia does not have the good fortune of having honest and ethical Republicans whether in the Governer’s office, state senate or house. What a shame. And they all tout themselves as Christians. Don’t you know Jesus upchucks when he hears that.

Ga Values

June 29th, 2011
10:34 am

How can “TINY TIM” hope to beat Obama when he is afraid of Romney..It’s really hard to find a current GOP Presidential candidate worth voting for. Thank goodness for 3rd parties.

Politi Cal

June 29th, 2011
10:36 am

You know, it might be a good idea to bar any state elected official or employee from doing busines with ANY state agency, including the University System. It’s just dirty water, that’s all. Will it happen? Not as long as we are a one party state, which we have been since Oglethorpe landed.

Muley powers

June 29th, 2011
10:49 am

Politicians in financial trouble…….red flag taxpayers.

GStateBen

June 29th, 2011
10:50 am

Umm, read the headline and I realize that space is limited but can we settle this once and for all:

From both schools websites:

Georgia Southern:

“…Ensuing decades found more name and mission changes: to Georgia Teachers College in 1939 and Georgia Southern College in 1959. Continued program and physical expansion, including one stretch, 1984-91 in which enrollment doubled from just more than 6,000 to 12,000 students. The institution would experience probably its biggest change in identity in 1990 when it became known as Georgia Southern University.”

Georgia State:

…In September 1947, the school became affiliated with the University of Georgia and was named the “Atlanta Division of the University of Georgia.” The school received its independence in 1955 and became the “Georgia State College of Business Administration.” In 1961, other programs at the school had grown large enough that the name was shortened to “Georgia State College.” It became Georgia State University in 1969.

1990 vs. 1969. I’ll let you decide who the real GSU is. The University System of Georgia did in 1969.

Flo

June 29th, 2011
10:51 am

You gotta love Republicans like Staton… When it comes to paying their bills, they think they should be treated differently than everybody else.

@GStateBen

June 29th, 2011
10:56 am

I’ve got an easier way to identify both schools:

Not UGA

Lundy

June 29th, 2011
11:00 am

GSU is Georgia State University.

pay up

June 29th, 2011
11:01 am

more deadbeat crooks in the georgia legislature—special rules apply for them, but not regular people who owe money. It pays big to be connected!!!

tar and feathers party

June 29th, 2011
11:02 am

Bribes and kickbacks to politicians, oh my! Hang em, hang em all. But first apply the tar and feathers, that makes it legal! IMHO

GSU2012

June 29th, 2011
11:07 am

GSU= Georgia State University see http://www.gsu.edu

Ghost of Beth

June 29th, 2011
11:07 am

“you can never doubt his integrity. he pays his property taxes and files his state income tax returns on time”

Too bad they don’t use this as a litmus test for Legislators. There might be less scrambling that way.

Don’t worry, my alter ego will just appropriate the balance due in the next state budget. Shhhhh.

sincerely,
Beth Merkleson

tar and feathers party

June 29th, 2011
11:10 am

Ah hear Home Depot is having a sale on tar….

Eagle in North Fulton

June 29th, 2011
11:13 am

GStateBen, was there anywhere in the article that said Georgia Southern was the “real” GSU?? No, you sanctimoniuos jackass. Ok, so you had the initals GSU first. That still doesn’t mean we in Statesboro are not GSU. Just like it doesn’t mean Grambling State isn’t GSU as well. It happens. Schools have the same initials. Last time I checked, Southern Cal and South Carolina both are referred to as USC. I mean, dang dude, your school doesn’t own the friggin rights to those three letters. Get over yourself.

Oh, and just so you know, as a Georgia Southern alum, I couldn’t care less who the “real” GSU is. It just doesn’t matter. Either way, both schools will still be referred to using those initials. So, get used to it.

T3

June 29th, 2011
11:17 am

A rising tide lifts all boats. (John F. Kennedy)

A sinking tide exposes ALL FRAUDS, both private and public.

Ah ha!

June 29th, 2011
11:17 am

Y-y-yeah! the initials are re-re-redundant!!

MikeyD

June 29th, 2011
11:34 am

Crackin’ up that all these losers from State are getting their shorts in a jumble about who the “real” GSU is… You guys need to seriously explore getting a life…

Clinton "Skink" Tyree

June 29th, 2011
11:35 am

I knew Ronald Reagan.

Ronald Reagan was a friend of mine.

And you, Mr. Gingrich, are no Ronald Reagan. And your analogy of his campaign to yours is a complete fallacy.

Leave it to State students

June 29th, 2011
11:35 am

Leave it to State students to focus on the important things in life and issues relevant to the article. Good to see my tax dollars are being wasted on crooked politics and State students.

Who reviewed Staton’s business declarations for potential conflicts of interest? Anyone? I hope Staton includes a copy of his letter of resignation with a check to GSU (Georgia Southern University – not Georgia State University, Grambling State University, or Governors State University).

Will

June 29th, 2011
11:39 am

Normally, something like Speaker Ralston’s blatant disregard for personal fiscal responsibility would be a big deal (imagine if this was a democrat).

But, in a state where republicans are so dominant (including republican newspaper writers and republican radio entertainers), I am convinced that, short of being caught in bed with a dead boy or live little girls, republican politicians can say or do almost anything and never fear the loss of an election.

What’s that you say? Democrats did the same things and when equally immune when they dominated state politics? Of course they did but I thought republicans were supposed to be different? If not, what difference does it make who is in charge?

Travis McGee

June 29th, 2011
11:40 am

I just finished reading about the Trancontinental Railroad construction project and found that even back then the big monied interests building the railroad lied, stole and defrauded the government.

It must be in the DNA of Big Business and those who run it to behave in such a manner.

And, so it goes. . . .

yuzeyurbrane

June 29th, 2011
11:43 am

Is financial incompetence or worse a prerequisite to become a Republican legis. leader?

Huh?

June 29th, 2011
11:47 am

GSo. football? Pretty sure the headling should read GSU football. Georgia Southern University.

GSU = Georgia State, Georgia Southern, Grambling State…
UA = University of Alabama, University of Arkansas, University of Arizona…

Kennesaw State Football Fan

June 29th, 2011
11:50 am

The simple solution is to merge the two GSU’s.

Huh?

June 29th, 2011
11:56 am

@Kennesaw State Football Fan- Almost as bad as when Vince Dooley called Kennesaw State Kansas State on accident?

catlady

June 29th, 2011
12:00 pm

Merge them and put the school in ….. Warner Robbins!

Mayor Moron

June 29th, 2011
12:06 pm

Macon had C. Jackass Ellis, better known as the Moron of Macon, once as Mayor now that idiot and the lying,racist idiot Sen Brown (D) makes it two Macon morons running for the office. Remember, Brown is the same guy who brought his enforcer thug to a news conference and beat up a Macon Telegraph photographer. He then lied and said he didn’t know the thug. It takes a thug to know a thug!

GStateBen

June 29th, 2011
12:18 pm

And I see the headline on the front page has been changed. That’s all I asked for.

Georgia State is not a directional school.

Huh?

June 29th, 2011
12:25 pm

@GStateBen- So East Carolina isn’t ECU? Middle Tennessee isn’t MTSU? North Texas isn’t UNT? Southern Methodist isn’t SMU? Central Florida isn’t UCF? Doesn’t matter if there’s a direction in their name. GSU is Georgia Southern and so is Georgia State. If you make Georgia Southern GSo. you might as well make Georgia State GSt.

double

June 29th, 2011
12:39 pm

@Will It makes no difference.When you give this some serious thought you realize you get the same regardless how you vote.think about it.

Come on now!

June 29th, 2011
12:42 pm

You a$$ faces are totally missing the point with all this GSU or GSU talk. Did you even read the story? If you really cared at GSU, GSU or any state school the point of the story would mean much more than just the intials used. Get it together. Makes me wonder if you even graduated high school let alone went to GSU or GSU. Idiots.

GeorgiaSouthern

June 29th, 2011
1:03 pm

The updated headline on the home page is wrong. Reads Georgia Southern football. It should read Georgia Southern Athletics. Agreement was for broadcast rights for other sports besides football (baseball and men’s and women’s basketball).

RC_K2

June 29th, 2011
1:06 pm

The Ga. Senator is in a financial pickle and is trying his best to stay alive and not sink into the financial quagmire as certain newspapers(AJC) and Media Companies(Cox) have lately. I say take the money and don’t worry about the bite, you will recover. As for liberal Atlantan, the democrats will just wet their pants.