Ethics Complaint Against Larry O’Neal

January 24, 2007 11:35 am

by Erick · 4 comments

A/K/A students with idle hands

An ethics complaint that, on its face, is a pretty serious deal, has been filed against Larry O’Neal relating to the Governor’s land deal.

Edward Chapman, a resident of Atlanta attending law school in Washington, D.C. (I assume that at least, given his email address and the fact that an undergrad didn’t put this together) [UPDATE: Ed tells me he is an undergrad], filed the complaint with the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee. He alleges that Rep. O’Neal, a practicing attorney, put the interests of one of his clients, Governor Perdue, ahead of the business of the state by amending H.B. 488 to have it apply retroactively to cover the Florida land deal.

The complaint reads, in part:

When Rep. O’Neal originally introduced HB 488, all effective dates in the bill were January 1, 2005 or later. The amendment that Rep. O’Neal asked the Senate Finance Committee to make changed the effective date of only the provisions regarding “like kind” exchanges, making the effective dates of those provisions January 1, 2004. With that change, Rep. O’Neal ensured that the repeal of the in-state purchase requirement benefited his client, Governor Perdue, who had sold Georgia land and purchased Florida land in 2004. This change in the law allowed Rep. O’Neal’s client, Governor Perdue, to indefinitely defer the payment of over $100,000 in state capital gains taxes on the sale of the Georgia land. The Georgia Department of Revenue only knows of one person who benefited from the amendment: Governor Perdue.

By requesting this change to the bill and then voting on it, Rep. O’Neal put the fiduciary interest of his client, Governor Perdue, above those of the state of Georgia. This is a clear violation of O.C.G.A. §45-10-1 (I and V) and possibly also a violation of O.C.G.A. §45-10-1 (VIII and IX), all of which fall under the jurisdiction of the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee. The Committee is required to “to conduct an investigation of the merits of a written complaint by any person who believes that a violation of this part has occurred.” O.C.G.A. § 45-10-93(b)(6)(A).

You can read the full complaint, with copious documentation to back up its claims, here (PDF).

Political Insider notes that Ed Chapman is a former researcher for the Democrats, but he claims to be filing this one as a private citizen.

chrisishardcore January 24, 2007 at 12:44 pm

Edward is smart enough to put this together on his own (I know him) and he also had a hot girlfriend when he lived in Atlanta. Talking about being able to walk and chew gum at the same time.

Erick January 24, 2007 at 12:53 pm

I hate guys like that. Heh.

Mad Dog January 24, 2007 at 8:17 pm

Chris,

I met Ed a couple times.

WHAT hot girlfriend?

I thought the young man was all geek.

Sorry Ed.

MD

atlantaman January 24, 2007 at 8:52 pm

They are going to have to come up with some better ethics complaints – more specific. The Richardson thing was a joke and the O’Neil stuff has been vetted in the press for a while. I think they are going to have to prove some quid pro quo to even have a shred of a case, aside from the fact the whole Legislature (Republicans and Democrats alike) gave O’Neil’s bill a resounding stamp of approval – an important check in the check and balance system.

Of course I’m not sure if the goal is to make enroads at Ethics, I think the goal is to give the AJC an excuse to write at the level of the National Enquirer – mission accomplished.

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