So let's see if we've got this straight. In the past two weeks, it's been revealed that GOP gubernatorial candidate Nathan Deal:
• Lost more than $4 million — an amount his campaign then confirmed exceeds his net worth — in a failed business venture by his daughter and son-in-law
• Failed to disclose a $2.5 million loan to an auto salvage business he co-owns
• Filed a revised financial disclosure that upgrades his stated net worth by a stunning 38 percent
And still, nearly every recent poll shows Deal running a solid 5 to 10 points ahead of Democrat Roy Barnes in the 2010 race for governor. What's a Republican gotta do to lose an election around here?
Deal's apparent nonstick coating is all the more impressive when you consider that this is a guy who quit the U.S. House one step ahead of ethics investigators who were looking into his alleged efforts to use his position and his congressional staff to pressure state officials into keeping in place a lucrative state monopoly held by his salvage business.
Now, however, it's time for the public to strip away the Teflon.
Last week, the former congressman's apparent financial predicament led to jokes in political circles that Deal was running to occupy the Governor's Mansion so he'd have a roof over his head. But just when Georgians were starting to consider whether it would be a good idea to have a newly minted pauper holding the state purse strings, Deal reversed course and called a surprise press conference to announce that he wasn't so broke after all, having found an additional two million bucks between the couch cushions of his real estate portfolio.
Leaving aside the dubious validity of land-value appraisals in this free-falling market, the move reeked of damage-control desperation and raised more questions than it answered, such as: If this new disclosure is correct, how come his previous filings were so far off the mark?
There are several aspects of this mess that call into doubt not just Deal's judgment, but his honesty. For instance, how could he have been unaware that his daughter's husband had declared bankruptcy twice within a seven-year period, in apparent violation of federal law?
And the hits keep coming. On Monday, the AJC reported that Deal has spent more than $135,000 in campaign funds to lease an aircraft from a company he partly owns, a potential violation of state ethics law.
Frankly, we believe Deal's financial tribulations — and the various omissions and "oversights" that kept them concealed until now — render him unfit to hold the state's highest office. At this point, we'd understand if GOP voters were pining for primary loser John Oxendine, who's as ethically challenged as Deal, but at least a far more colorful candidate.
@ Roxanne Dimacale
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