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Friday, August 22, 2014

Jason Carter: 'There's an element of cronyism' with the governor's state board appointments

Posted By on Fri, Aug 22, 2014 at 4:03 PM

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter today launched his latest in a long line of attacks against Gov. Nathan Deal's alleged ethics woes. The Atlanta state senator blasted the governor for giving his wealthiest donors influential appointments on boards that oversee state tuition rates, imported goods headed into the state by water, and environmental regulations.

His latest attacks were prompted by a report from the AJC that found the vast majority of members on the state's Board of Regents, Georgia Ports Authority, and Board of Natural Resources — positions that the governor typically appoints — had contributed $1.3 million to his campaign efforts. He used the report as an opportunity to call a press conference about how the findings are another example of the governor's questionable ethics track record.

"Gov. Deal left congress to avoid an ethics investigation," Carter told reporters. "Gov. Deal has interfered in an ethics investigation into his 2010 campaign. The taxpayers are on the hook for $3 million related to that ethics scandal. We've seen repeated efforts to bully people who have investigated the governor and to help the governor's friends and political donors at the experience of regular middle-class Georgians."

Carter said "there's an element of cronyism" with Deal's appointments of the board's members that also fail to represent the demographics of the entire state. If elected, he pledged to fill his boards with people that have the right kinds of expertise and not his wealthiest donors.

Deal spokesperson Brian Robinson defended the qualifications of "thousands" of gubernatorial appointments - most of whom had never contributed to his campaign. Deal's record of appointments did not go "against what the historic norm has been in Georgia" or at the federal level, he noted.

"[If Carter is elected he's] going to do exactly what Governor Deal has done, what President Obama has done, what President Carter did, and what every governor in the history of the state has done, and that is appoint people who agree with your view about how government should run," Robinson told reporters. "People who want to carry out your vision for the state so much that they donate to your campaign to keep you in office and people who donate their time on their own dime to volunteer for the state."

Robinson further dismissed Carter's claims by point to the fact that he had voted in favor of the governor's appointments between 2011 and 2013. He also noted that the AJC's owner Anne Cox Chambers maxed out her donations to the Carter campaign, which he says called into question the newspaper's ability to objectively report the state board appointment in the first place.

When asked whether he voted to approve the board appointments, Carter replied: "I believe so. But it's the governor's prerogative to set the boards. This falls to the governor. It's the governor's responsibility."

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