Irvin v. Black

[UPDATE: I’m bumping this back to the top. Having researched the matter further, I think Tommy Irvin is actually okay on this. I had remembered that you had to treat dividends and interest as contributions, subject to the limits. Upon further research, I was clearly at error. I’ve got to stop running my mouth without pulling out my OCGA to check myself. Assuming Mr. Irvin has been properly filing tax returns for his campaign, there should be no issue here other than how he has listed his investments in his disclosures and whether investments in stocks would be seen as permissible expenditures under the code, something about which I am not certain but, having researched the matter, think probably is not permissible.]

This race is, frankly, under the radar for me right now.

What’s up with Tommy Irvin’s illegal campaign contributions? At least that is what the Black campaign is telling me. In the most recent disclosures, Irvin had a contribution of 17792.18 from Bear Stearns Co, Inc. in the form of a contribution (dividend interest).

Likewise he had $254,612.92 in the form of a stock sale.

This is fraught with problems. It calls into question the accuracy of past disclosures, considering he’s apparently put his contributions into stock, the price of which goes up and down. LIkewise, the dividend interest appears to be clearly a violation of campaign laws — dividends are treated as contributions and, as such, cannot exceed $5000.00.

I realize Irvin has been around since before these laws were written, but it appears he really is not in compliance and need to clear things up — including how he invested his money, which he arguable cannot do and should not have done. Buying stock is not directly related to getting elected and is arguably an inappropriate use of campaign funds.

43 comments

  1. Mad Dog says:

    Erick,

    At first blush, looks like Irvin needs to answer some questions.

    But, since I’m still waiting for Cagle to answer up on the $800 math error in his 1998 disclosure… and Cagle was Chairman of the Board of Directors, Southern Heritage Bank at the time…. I’m guessing neither Cagle nor GB&T give a hoot about qualifications for bank Directors.

    But, keep pumping Tommy Irvin. Or, if there is enough there, file an ethics complaint.

    Then, we can dismiss that ethics complaint as being “election year hysteria.”

    Or, that “the opposition always digs up someone to file an ethics complaint against an incumbent.”

    🙂

  2. stephaniemills21 says:

    It is my understanding that interest is not a contribution, but is just listed as a contribution for reporting purposes. But I could not find the code section detailing this.

  3. Mad Dog says:

    stephaniemills21,

    The two entries are the $5,541.16 from the Habersham Bank and $18,489.02 from Bears Stearns. These total the $24,030.18 Mr. Irvin reports as interest.

    It would seem you are correct and Mr. Irvin is correct in his reporting.

  4. Mad Dog says:

    To the point of “dividends” vs. interest …

    Some transactional money market accounts do not pay “interest” but pay “dividends” instead.

    That would be a definitional matter for the FDIC, SEC, and some other alphabet soup regulatory agency to handle.

  5. CobbGOPer says:

    Doesn’t matter. From the polling I’ve heard about, Irvin is way up on Black and not losing ground.

  6. Mad Dog says:

    CobbGOPer,

    It won’t matter on the day after the election, exactly your point.

    That kind of inaccurate information, if it was someone with the Black campaign “leaking” to Erick, could hurt Erick and the Black Campaign.

    MD

  7. Groseclose says:

    Erick, I think your commentary, especially with your election law background, on Irvin’s illegal contributions is especially enlightening. Equally disturbing, so it seems from the Black campaign press releases, is Irvin’s obstinate refusal to correct this issue or offer a rationale explanation for his illegal behavior. Despite his boasting of being the Dean of GA’s constitutional officer, such a superfluous qualification does not make him above the law. Nonetheless, I have not looked at TI’s disclosure, so I am going to reserve my judgment on this matter until a more clear explanation comes forward.

    But . . .

    I do want to share another example of why I have not reserved judgment on this race generally. This past weekend I was a gathering of agricultural attorneys in which Mr. Irvin and Agriculture Commissioner Weathers of South Carolina provided commentary on leading agriculture issues. Not long into the forum, one of my colleagues, who I consider pretty objective on this race, leaned over to me an asked if Mr. Irvin was drunk. I assured him that he was not, but one not familiar with Irvin’s demeanor, when in viewed in contrast to Commissioner Weathers, could have quickly and rationally concluded the same. Later during a reception, another colleague lamented how senile Mr. Irvin appeared when discussing these important issues. I have refrained from personally attacking other posters or candidates on this forum, so I hope this criticism is not interpreted as such. But I am obligated to share how much of an embarrassment Mr. Irvin was to Georgia, the state’s agriculture industry and the Department of Agriculture last weekend. His thoughts were jumbled, his presentation was fluff, and his vision of the future was non-existent.

    During his presentation, Irvin did make, what I believe, was an awfully damming concession. In Georgia, we have 144,000 gas nozzles, he says, regulated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Of those 144,000, Irvin claimed only TWO were outfitted for ethanol distribution capabilities. Contrast South Carolina, a state no larger than half Georgia’s size in land mass or population, has 60 nozzles equipped with alternative energy distribution capabilities. This is a classic example of how Mr. Irvin has allowed our department of agriculture to lag behind.

    Mr. Irvin provided another example of how detached he is from reality. Mr. Irvin accused Saxby of being late to the table on alternative energy. However, it was Saxby in 2002 who was part of the Committee who wrote the first ever energy title into a farm bill. Also consider, South Carolina has a school for young agricultural leaders as part of their state’s efforts to stabilize or increase the farm population. In contrast, Tommy has done nothing innovative in decades on this critical front. While South Carolina has public-private partnerships to increase the viability of the states farmers market, Tommy has allowed Georgia rural state farmers’ markets to fall in disrepair and to become “sparsely

  8. Groseclose says:

    BTW Mad Dog:

    I don’t think it was “leaking” to Erick. It is on Gary’s website and I have recieved at least three emails on the issue.

  9. Mad Dog says:

    Groseclose,

    Read what Erick said,

    “At least that is what the Black campaign is telling me.”

    Then, read “In the most recent disclosures,” …

    Cite some chapter and verse

  10. Groseclose says:

    Mad Dog, I took you up on it. I got around to looking up the disclosure. On TI’s disclosure, the following appears: Bear Stearns Co., Inc., SALE OF STOCK, Atlanta, Ga, 30326, 9/13/2006, Monetary, $254, 612.92; Bear Stearns Co., Inc., DIVIDENDS INTEREST EARNED, Atlanta, Ga 30326, 9/30/2006, Monetary, $17, 792.18; Habersham Bank, INTEREST EARNED, Cornelia, Ga 30531, 9/30/2006, Monetary, $4,487.37.

    Mad Dog, you have been looking at the June disclosures. The one the Black campaign is questioning is the Septemer one. I believe you need to be a little more cautious about the information you use in your attempt to publicly discredit someone.

  11. Mad Dog says:

    And the chapter and verse for that being illegal?

    And your lame assertion that it wasn’t just as Erick said, “At least that is what the Black campaign is telling me. In the most recent disclosures, ”

    So how does one idiot appologize to another idiot?

  12. Demonbeck says:

    “At least that is what the Black campaign is telling me.”

    The Black campaign has been telling me this as well … through email Mad Dog. Erick then looked up the disclosures for himself apparently to confirm these claims.

    If you weren’t so quick to defend and took a little time to read these posts for their true meanings, perhaps you would have understood that. Whether what the Irvin campaign did is legal or not, the appearance of impropriety is just as damning as impropriety itself. Until the Irvin campaign answers this issue effectively, it will continue to dog him.

    That is not bias, it is the truth.

  13. CHelf says:

    If interest fluctuates and in theory could exceed the limit amount, why is this even permissible in the first place? And how do you stop interest? Tell them “no sorry I can’t take more than $5K”?

    As I question all claims from all sides, what law, code, reg, etc. does this violate? And nothing is illegal until it has been determined so by the court or the investigative process.

  14. Big Mack says:

    Groseclose,

    I do not think that Tommy Irvin is a consumer of alcohol. He does have a terrible case of diabetes. The last time I was around him, he was acting like a robot. Mumbling the same thing over and over. He outlived his usefulness several terms ago and it is time for him to be replaced. Vote for Gary Black.

  15. stephaniemills21 says:

    appearance of impropriety is just as damning as impropriety itself

    Maybe Sonny should have thought of this.

  16. Demonbeck says:

    Stephanie,

    I also said, “Until the Irvin campaign answers this issue effectively, it will continue to dog him.”

    Sonny is answering the accusations laid upon him very publicly. (Though I don’t know how effectively – could he say Million dollars one more time in that ad?)

    I haven’t seen word one from Tommy Irvin.

  17. Jeff Emanuel says:

    Demon, I’d stick with “answering.” That ad is pretty awful; he looks and sounds pretty arrogant, IMHO, and should probably back off the rubbing in that he can afford to drop a couple mil on property any time — both reinforcing the idea of rich, out of touch politicians, and rubbing in that most folks can’t afford it.

    The ad hits me a Clintonesque — exactly the wrong way to come across.

  18. waterboy says:

    Mad Dog, what polls are you talking about? Gary Black has raised a great deal more than Irvin, has overflow crowds at events across the state and has signs up all over the place….those facts tell me more about this race then anything else i have seen. I’m in SOWEGA and saw both Black and Irvin today at the Sunbelt Ag Expo. Nobody even talks to Irvin while Black has people gathered around him all the time. I stood in line to shake Gary’s hand today at the big luncheon. I found out today that Saxby and Perdue are having an fundraiser for Gary tomorrow night in Moultrie – it is sure to be another packed event!

  19. Mad Dog says:

    Give them CHELF!

    Waterboy thinks I’m talking about polls.

    No one can cite a code section that might even have been bent.

    I won’t accuse anyone of setting up the thread just for the purpose of calling Mr. Irvin a wino.

  20. Mad Dog says:

    Demonbeck,

    There is a true meaning to these posts? As in …
    ” took a little time to read these posts for their true meanings.”

    I’ve stopped studying my navel, Oh Great Navel Observer. I’d rather be studying a navel more worthy of close observation.

    Yes, if you look long and hard at the worthless Ethic Commissions website, you can find the information so crudely alluded to by Erick and the Black campaign et al.

    Yes, there are two entries that use stock and dividends.

    Again, transactional money market accounts at brokerage firms have different terms and “jargon” that the Black campaign can’t deny.

    The Irvin disclosures can be absolutely correct and violate no laws.

    If there is a specific law to be cited, cite it.

    If there is proof that stocks can ONLY be “stocks” as in certficates that denote ownership positions in capital ventures, trot it out.

    Black et al are whining about laws being broken but won’t stand up at the sheriffs office and swear out a warrant.

    While I’m on the subject, Cagle has an “error” on one of his disclosures of $54,000!

    Dare me

  21. waterboy says:

    Mad Dod is now the one acting like a wino…er whiner. Irvin just needs to answer the charge of “what’s the truth.” It ain’t that hard.

  22. Groseclose says:

    Erick I am not quite ready to give Tommy Irvin a free pass. I have combed Title 21 tonight and here are my thoughts

    Contribution Limits

    As used in Chapter Five of Title 21 of Georgia law, O.C.G.A. § 21-5-3 (7) defines “Contribution” as “. . . advance or deposit of money or anything of value conveyed or transferred for the purpose of influencing the nomination for election or election of any person for office . . . [t]he term “‘contribution’ shall include other forms of payment made to candidates for office or who hold office when such fees and compensation made can be reasonably construed as a campaign contribution designed to encourage or influence a candidate or public officer holding elective office. . .

  23. Mad Dog says:

    Gross Guy,

    You were more fun to read when you were calling him a drunk.

    You set up the whole thread, in my unhumble opinion, to get public play for Black.

    Mad Dog

  24. ugavi says:

    Grose,
    Well stated. The real issue hear is what stocks did he own and for how long. A question I have is that was he required to disclose the stock ownership on his personal financial disclosure?

  25. Mad Dog says:

    A Double Dog Dare!

    Just for Stephanie!

    The system of campaign disclosures is a chain of legal documents, signed by the candidate and notarized. Through these documents, the candidate discloses his support base, his expenditures, and his contributions of cash and in kind.

    The ‘most recent’ disclosure, complete with the candidates oath, is an accounting very similiar to corporate SEC filings on earnings etc.

    Cagle states on his 49th Senate District disclosure dated 1-03-2006 that his running total of contributions are $151,062.15.

    However, if you have the time and patience, Add up his contributions one at a time and compare THAT total to the public figure Cagle uses.

    Small discrepancy of $56,094.

    The errors are many. Some are as small as 3 or 5 cents. Some are quite large.

    Unless I have made a huge ERROR, Mr Cagle was given over $200,000 for his campaigns in the 49th Senate District.

    His ‘most current’ accounting only shows $151,062. with cash on hand, after expenditures of only $8,654 after expenditures of $142,408.11

    Our ‘future Lt. Governor’ needs to do some explaining.

    Show me the money

  26. Groseclose says:

    For the record, I never said the Commissioner was drunk. In fact, I said the opposite. My reference to the word “drunk” was simply me sharing someone’s observation about Mr. Irvin’s ability to communicate his message and the Department’s vision.

  27. Georgia Peach says:

    If we could put the contribution debate aside and talk about the issues, who would serve Ga. better? I do belive that Ga is in need of ethanol or alternative energy capabilities. I am not sure who to vote for. I have been searching for facts on the issues, but it seems like everyone is more conceren with the contributions.

  28. gatormathis says:

    GeorgiaPeach, it’s simple, vote for Gary Black. TI says this is his last term, so why up for the future with a 4 year contract. Let’s vote for Black, a very qualified candidate, and begin the move into the future in January 2007 instead of Jan 20011.

    His qualifications are impeccable.

  29. MediaGuyAtl says:

    Tommy Irvin has showed no leadership for years! Put all the campaign stuff aside, Farms in Georgia can’t find qualified and legal employees to staff farms. We need better training in the schools and some leadership when it comes to ethanol. I’ve seen Tommy at several functions around the state and I don’t think he’s ready to serve another 4 years. Food supplies are at risk. My family has to send our cattle out of state since Georgia does not have a finishing school or a meat processing facility. Trasportation costs for that alone cost our business money, just think if we cold keep some of that in Georgia? We need leadership in that office and I don’t think Tommy is providing that right now. Seems like the states all around us are showing us up and we need someone who’ll make the difference in our agriculture.

  30. Fogle says:

    “… and begin the move into the future in January 2007 instead of Jan 20011.”

    Damn, looks like Gary Black’s going to live forever. That’s like 18,004 years. Oh well, that’s fine because Gary Black is an awesome guy so good for him. He has my best wishes for the next 18 millennium.

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