Thursday, September 26, 2013

Ethics watchdogs zero in on Deal amid alleged cover-up of investigation

Posted By on Thu, Sep 26, 2013 at 10:32 AM

Several ethics watchdog groups are starting to prod into an alleged cover-up of an ethics investigation of Gov. Nathan Deal's gubernatorial campaign.

The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which two months ago named Deal as one of the nation's worst governors, wants to see documents related to the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission head Holly LaBerge's alleged tampering with a state probe of Deal's campaign.

The AJC's Aaron Gould Sheinin, who helped break the story last week, writes from behind the MyAJC paywall:

A Washington-based watchdog group has sued the Department of Justice for refusing to turn over documents related to its involvement in the investigation of Nathan Deal's 2010 campaign for governor.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington wants a federal judge to order the Justice Department to produce records of communications between the department and Georgia's ethics commission regarding the commission's investigation of Gov. Deal.

Common Cause Georgia's William Perry, who last week called for an independent investigation into the claims, yesterday told CL that ethics reform will be one of the group's biggest efforts during next year's legislative session. That's not to say that the watchdog wouldn't be pursuing stricter laws otherwise, but LaBerge's alleged actions have opened a new window of opportunity.

In the past, Perry says he'd hear from state lawmakers that reforms weren't needed because Georgia hadn't experienced a major corruption scandal like in other states. But with the recent claims of a cover-up, changes could be afoot on the ethics front under the Gold Dome.

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