House Speaker Glenn Richardson has 54,000 constituents in his legislative district in eastern Paulding County. Just two of them donated money to the speaker’s 2007-08 election fund.
Three businesses in the 19th District also gave to the speaker’s campaign, as did the Paulding Chamber of Commerce. Together, the six donations — totaling $5,840 – added up to less than 1 percent of the $953,000 that Richardson raised in that period.
The rest of Richardson’s financial supporters, as they say, ain’t from around those parts. One in four aren’t even from Georgia.
Georgia lobbyists, and the special-interest groups that employ them, made up half of all contributions to Richardson’s campaign treasury and to the MMV Alliance Fund, a separate political action committee that benefits him, according to an analysis of campaign records by AtlantaUnfiltered.
$488,250 — Georgia lobbyists and groups that hired them
$229,291 — Out-of-state donors
$86,940 — Other Georgia businesses
$142,750 — Other Georgia individuals
$5,840 — Constituents in Richardson’s 19th district
Final analysis of Richardson’s 2007-08 only became possible last week, when the MMV Fund filed its last disclosure report for 2008. The report was not filed with the State Ethics Commission until AtlantaUnfiltered called to ask about it.
Richardson collected nearly $1 million without even having a campaign to run. He ran without opposition in 2008, and he hails from solidly Republican turf. John McCain won 69 percent of the Paulding County vote in November.
The biggest givers to Richardson’s funds were health care, development and financial interests, particularly title pawn and other small loan businesses.
Don Balfour, The Snellville Republican (right) has collected nearly $85,000 in campaign donations since Jan. 1, according to his latest campaign disclosure. Several donors seemingly forgot that it’s illegal to donate money during the legislative session; Balfour reported receiving four donations totaling $2,050 on March 22.
The top donors? Aflac, the billboard industry, state Sen. Eric Johnson, United Health Services (a Toccoa-based nursing home and pharmacy chain), and Coca-Cola. The full list includes many of the most active special-interest political funds in Georgia.
No one’s even run against Balfour since 2004, when he coasted to re-election with about 75 percent of the vote, knocking off Democratic opponent Enock Vixamar.
Since then, with no opposition, state records show Balfour’s campaign fund has still managed to raise $683,000. The bulk of contributions are from Insurance & Pharmacy Companies.
How’s he spend it? In 2009, his campaign paid:
$4,404 to himself, primarily for travel and miscellaneous expenses, plus $1,000 to American Express for travel expense. The report provides little other detail. State law requires more specific disclosure than Balfour reported. The law is intended to inform the public about the nature of political expenses and the end recipients of the money.
$4,300 to Johnson for Georgians, the committee for state Sen. Eric Johnson’s campaign for lieutenant governor, on June 25. (Johnson for Georgians gave Balfour $4,366 three days later.)
$5,900 to the Committee to Elect Eric Johnson in January. (It’s unclear which of Johnson’s three campaign funds that was, since none have filed disclosures yet for 2009.)
$26,228 to Landmark Consulting of Duluth for campaign work.
$9,000 for “house rental”
$9,170 for “house rental” deposit, utilities and cleaning fees.
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