State News

August 31, 2013

Political fund tied to Gov. Deal raises $786K

A fund connected to Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has raised about $786,000 in contributions, according to a campaign finance report filed Friday.

The Real PAC of Georgia raised the funds largely from corporations and political action committees that either do business with the state or have a financial stake in legislation, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Companies, lobbyists and others can give the fund donations of up to $50,000, well beyond the limit on contributions to Deal’s official re-election campaign.

The disclosure was the fund’s first since early 2012. The newspaper and Atlantaunfiltered.com earlier reported that the PAC had taken in at least $459,000, but had not recently filed campaign finance disclosures.

The fund was established by Deal supporters and has connections to the Republican governor. It paid $30,000 to Southern Magnolia Capital, a fundraising firm founded by Deal’s daughter-in-law, Denise Deal. It also paid Ken Cronan, who co-owned a Gainesville salvage yard with Deal, more than $10,000 in December for pilot and plane expenses.

The fund’s treasurer, Rick Thompson, said the PAC will use its money to promote Republican causes, not a specific candidate. Thompson formerly headed the state’s ethics commission.

The PAC’s biggest donors included:

— Georgia Crown Distributing Co., $50,000. Its chairman, Donald Leebern, is a major Deal campaign contributor. The governor reappointed him to the University System Board of Regents.

— United Health Group, $50,000. The company in 2012 lost a state contract to administer health insurance for about 650,000 teachers and state employees.

— AT&T, $50,000. The company was one of several that backed legislation to limit the power of local governments to regulate new cellphone towers.

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