Monday, June 21, 2010

Ethics Violations by Gary Black, candidate for Agriculture Commissioner? Sure looks like it!

Take Notice potential & likely voters. When there's smoke, there's fire!

Bacon County Republican Darwin Carter (R-Alma) filed a ethics complaint back on June 15 against Gary Black (R-Commerce) for violations, such as failure to disclose the use of his office as CEO/Lobbyist for the Georgia Agribusiness Council (Not-for-Profit) to run for Commissioner of Agriculture & in addition carter charges that Black's lobbying firm, Ga Agribusiness Council (GAC) is a non-profit 501c6 corporation & according to the IRS should pay taxes on their extensive partisan political work.

Here's one of two letters sent to Sonny Perdue:

Honorable Sonny Perdue
Governor of Georgia

Dear Governor Perdue,

Where does one turn to involving conflicts of interest here in Georgia?
I ask that question of you out of frustration. Let me explain. I am
a current candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture in the Republican
Primary race. In the course of my campaign I learned a great deal about my opponent, Gary Black.

I found out that he is a full time candidate for state office, at the same time he is working full time as President of the Georgia Agribusiness Council (GAC), a U. S. Tax exempt, 501c6 corporation.

My reading of regulations concerning these tax exempt groups suggests
that they are strictly forbidden from involvement in partisan politics.
Violation of IRS rules can cause loss of the tax exempt status.

As President of GAC besides his six figure salary, his meals are paid for while on the road. His gasoline and car expenses are paid. His lodging is covered. In short, everything he encounters is paid or reimbursed by GAC, all of this while he maintains his 24 hour schedule of non-stop partisan campaigning.

I think that this is wrong. I believe that he is conflicted. Acting on my belief I wrote to the Georgia Inspector General, asking that they review my findings. At the same time, I also wrote the office of Secretary of State, knowing that their office handles matters of corporations here in Georgia (see attached). In both cases, I have now heard back that they have no jurisdiction in such matters.

That is the reason for this message to you. Where does one go to properly raise these questions? By the way, in writing to you, I was given 60 choices of subject matter by your efficient email server, no where did I see Conflict of Interest as a possible selection to define the purpose in my correspondence. Knowing that I had to select a category I chose agriculture. However, that was an arbitrary choice since this is really a request for review that centers around blatant conflict of interest.

In summary, who in our state has jurisdiction if in fact Gary Black
is conflicted, as I suspect? Do you see any problem here with his
wearing of two hats, being paid by his lobbying group to seek the
office that handles the matters most impacting on his corporation?
Do you see any problem that he does all of this using a tax exempt
corporation while he campaigns?

Governor, I sincerely seek your advice and thoughts on this matter.


Darwin Carter
Darwin Carter for Georgia Agriculture Commissioner
1720 West 4th St Extention
Alma Ga 31510

PS. Since writing you the above message, I made a joint public
appearance with Gary Black at the 6th District GOP Campaign Forum,
Dunwoody. As I ended my remarks to the crowd, I turned to Gary Black
and asked him in front of everyone how he could possibly justify his
high profile conflict of interest. He didn't like the question. He
suggested that I was delivering to him a "sucker-punch". However, he
went on to say that he had "resigned two days ago", from his GAC

I've looked at his ongoing Twiiter board and see no mention of his
resignation. I've heard nothing about the resignation in the press.
His Georgia Agribusiness Council (GAC) web site still lists him as
President. If he has resigned it has been in a rather incognito

More inportant, if he has resigned from GAC it elevates the question
of propiety. Why did he think he could get away with his conflict
in the first place? Why did the Board of Directos of GAC permit
and, indeed, encourage the conflict? I urge that someone of
authority demand a full audit of the financial records of the
organization. After all, Black's group is a tax exempt 501c6.
If he has resigned it is because he is feeling some heat. I've
come to believe that where there is heat there is often fire.

Here's a letter Carter sent to the Inspector General's Office:

Elizabeth P. Archer
State Inspector General

Office of the State Inspector General
2 Martin Luther King, Jr., Drive, S.W.
1102 West Tower
Atlanta, Georgia 30334


Dear General Archer,

Recently we wrote to your office concerned over a serious conflict of
interest involving my opposition in the Republican primary race for
Commissioner of Agriculture, Gary Black, and his non-profit
corporation, Georgia Agribusiness Council (GAC). We told you in our
correspondence that notwithstanding IRS regulations, his lobbying firm
did not pay taxes...never has...on their wide spread many years ongoing
partisan political expenditures.

Your office quickly got back to us, for which we are grateful, and let
us know that your agency really didn't have jurisdiction in such
matters. In addition you explained that your focus is on fraud, abuse
and corruption, within the Executive Branch of government.

After better understanding the charge of your agency and upon more due
diligence on our part, we once more come to you over the misdeeds of
GAC, and would like for you to consider this letter a formal complaint.
This is a situation involving the Executive Branch. The person we
single out to you is the newly installed Chairman of the Board, of the
Georgia Agribusiness Council (GAC), David Skinner. His concurrent state
role is with the Georgia Development Authority, he serves as Executive
Director. Obviously, he is a very high level government

We wish to elaborate. We've previously told you that the GAC is an
IRS regulated 501c6 non profit corporation. It can only engage in
partisan politics legally by paying taxes on it's partisan expenditures.
I have personally reviewed most of their recent tax filings, Form 990.
I've carefully studied them, so have others who I trust on such matters.
We see no evidence that any taxes have been paid on GAC's extensive
political work. None.

Further, we have rather current video of Gary Black, President, of
GAC campaigning throughout the state of Georgia. Live and in his own
words he says he is President of GAC and is campaigning for the post
of Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture. He can only do these
shenanigans with the advice and consent of his Board of Directors.
Before David Skinner was elected Chairman, he also served on the Board.

Months ago I urged that Black resign as President of GAC. He and his
GAC friends scoffed at my suggestion. However, as word got around that
I was not going away, he finally resigned in late April. While I am
pleased he finally stepped aside it does not mitigate the fact that for
months earlier he did something that was wrong and perhaps fraudulent.
An audit of all of GAC's books and records will speak to his and
Skinner's questionable administration of their non-profit
lobbying firm.

By promoting Black's candidacy, which violates the spirit of their
501c6 charter, Skinner also promotes a lobbying firm's agenda. There
is no more important post in state government for GAC than Georgia's
Department of Agriculture. Skinner and Black have known one another and
worked together at GAC for years. Now as Chairman, Skinner is
calling the shots. Ask anyone what GAC does and they will say that they
are "lobbyists". Look at their Facebook web site presence or
the Twitter sites of their officers and you will see that lobbying is
all that they are about. In view of this, how can a senior state
employee justify occupying the post of Chairman? How can a senior state
official justify simultaneously running a high powered IRS
non-compliant lobbying firm? Can you imagine any attorney or law
professor offering an opinion letter that this is not a conflict?

In view of the research I have conducted these past months over the activities of GAC, I've concluded what they are doing is wrong. As you
informed me a few weeks ago, my immediate recourse, because of
jurisdiction may be with the IRS, and the courts. I am pursuing those
avenues now, as well as the press. However, if I am correct in my
assumptions, and the charges I am making with you today, then truly
there is a reason for your office to thoroughly review this matter as
well. Indeed, without wanting to sound presumptuous, I feel that you
have a duty to do so.

David Skinner's involvement is not a casual thing. As Executive
Director of the Georgia Development Authority he is entrusted with
millions of dollars of our tax money. Indeed, he represents our state
every day he sits at his desk. However, he is also duplicitous. As
he wears two hats it is impossible to say who he represents on so many
important matters. By wearing two hats at the same time this betrays
his fiduciary responsibilities to our state. He is conflicted. He is
compromised. Something needs to be done.

At first as I uncovered their incredible relationships that I've come
across in
getting to know Gary Black and GAC, I did so as a candidate for office.
I now know that I have gone beyond that point. However this race comes
out, win or lose, I am not going to let up until I have helped bring
some sunlight to this dark place. Georgian's deserve to know that
their government is being run honestly. They need to know that someone
is looking out for them. As I read about your office, I believe that
you are that "someone". Skinner is in the Executive Branch. You
have jurisdiction. You now have my complaint.

Please feel free to call on me anytime for any questions you may have.
I wish you well with this investigation. I wish you well as you conduct
your good and important work.


Darwin Carter
Darwin Carter for Georgia Agriculture Commissioner
1720 West 4th St Extension
Alma Ga 31510

Carter has spent the last six months filing letters of complaint to the Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Inspector General to no avail. Carter spoke with the Governor’s Attorney just to learn that ethics is not one of their top issues. Out of frustration Carter filed an official complaint with the State Ethics Commission.

Gary Black has violated the State Ethics Laws and no one is listening. I have tried to work within the family to resolve this matter, but now I feel I must take it public to expose what could happen to the Citizens of Georgia

A similar complaint was filed against Black by then Republican
candidate Deanne Strickland in 2006 which was never resolved by the
State Ethics Commission.

David Skinner is the chairman of Black's lobbying firm. Skinner is conflicted because he is a paid executive director of the Georgia Develpoment Authority.

Says Carter: Gary Black is just a "Yes" man to the big agribusiness industries that want to run this regulatory office & in the words of Tommy Irvin back in 2006: electing Black would be like putting the fox in charge of the hen house.

Now Black is seen as the guy to become the next agriculture commissioner, but these complaints filed by GOP challenger Darwin Carter has some teeth to it. Ga Farmers, family farmers, independent farmers had better take notice of who Gary Black really is, because in the general election against Conservative Democratic State Senator & Farmer J.B. Powell (D-Blythe), he will be raked over the coals with charges if ethics violations & it'll feed into the narrative the democrats will run in this years election which will involve Ethics.

If you ask me, Carter is more qualified to become the next Agriculture Commissioner than republican favorite Gary Black & democratic nominee J.B. Powell.

Look at the qualifications of Carter:

Carter served in various positions in the administration of President Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1989.

His positions included:
-Georgia State Executive Director of the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service
-Confidential Assistant to the Administrator of ASCS
-Assistant to the Undersecretary for International Affairs and Commodity
-Programs Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Darwin managed some of the largest and most successful export projects in the world.

The GOP better think long & hard before they cast a vote for Black. If he (Black) ends up as the nominee, he'll lose in the general election against J.B. Powell. This will hang over his head all the way to November. When there's smoke, there's fire!

Carter as the nominee, republicans will win that seat hands down, but it seems the entire State GOP has put all their eggs in the basket for this guy & if they send him on to the general election, HE WILL NOT WIN! MARK MY WORDS!!

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