This Strikes Even Me As Absurd

Holy crap that’s insane.

A state program designed to help struggling rural communities is putting $4.6 million into the Columbus expansion of one of Georgia’s largest and most politically connected companies, Aflac Inc.

The grant was announced recently by the OneGeorgia board, which is headed by Gov. Sonny Perdue and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, two former lawmakers who were in the General Assembly when the economic development program was approved in 2000.

OneGeorgia, which is budgeted to spend $47 million on loans and grants in the upcoming fiscal year, has expanded beyond its rural roots in recent years, putting money into remodeling a pricey Augusta hotel and helping pay for machinery for a Boeing Corp. facility in Macon. Honda, AirTran and FedEx are just a few of the big companies that have benefited from OneGeorgia awards.

Providing a grant to an insurance company with almost $14.6 billion in revenue last year like Aflac surprised some rural lawmakers.

No wonder Casey and Sonny weren’t upset by Sonny’s veto of the tax cut.

9 comments

  1. Ragnar Danneskjöld says:

    How much money did Aflac donate to Sonny and Casey??

    Whoever has the most money and donates the most money, gets the spoils.

  2. HeartofGa says:

    There has been a move for some time to quietly direct OneGeorgia money, that you correctly point out is supposed to benefit rural communities, to larger metro areas. This is, however, not quiet, but a rather bold move. This is not a wise way to spend public money. Just think what an equvilent amount of money could have done to build much needed infrastructure in rural communities.

  3. Erick says:

    HeartofGA, I don’t mind helping out big companies in suburban areas if it means we’re growing jobs in the state.

    I do think, however, some of the areas outside the metropolitan counties need to be helped and be given priority. I know there are projects in Twiggs County, Monroe County, and others that could have used this money much more than AFLAC.

  4. Bill Kecskes says:

    Ragnar – all the info you want can be found at the State Ethics Commission web site.

    Here’s what I found about AFLAC on the ethics web site –

    1. In 2006, AFLAC contributed over $80,000+ in campaign contributions to 115 Georgia Legislators; including:
    a. $2,000 to Speaker Richardson on 9-14-06
    b. $2,000 to Rep. Larry O’Neal on 9-25-06
    c. $2,000 to Rep. Jerry Keen on 6-27-06
    d. $2,000 to Sen Eric Johnson on 9-25-06

    2. On 6-27-06 – AFLAC contributed $3,000 to LtGov. Casey Cagle’s campaign.

    3. On 10-17-06, AFLAC contributed $5,000 to LtGov. Casey Cagle’s campaign.

    4. On 6-30-06 – AFLAC contributed $200,000 (two hundred thousand) to the Republican Party of Georgia

    5. On 5-25-06 – AFLAC contributed $2,000 (two thousand) to the Democratic Party of Georgia

    To answer the last part of your question; I saw no contributions from AFLAC to the Governor’s campaign.

  5. rightofcenter says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t OneGeorgia money come from the tobacco settlement? Isn’t this “off budget” from the general revenue that the tax refund would have come from?

  6. Ragnar Danneskjöld says:

    Bill, sorry you had to do all that research. My question was more rhetorical than anything. I know how much elected officials and especially Casey Cagle receive from Aflac.

    I am not saying anything is wrong with donations from Aflac, nor am I saying Aflac is a bad company–because they are not; they are great for Georgia.

    I just don’t agree with corporate welfare and I especially do not believe One Georgia money should be going to them because I don’t think it meets the goal of that program.

  7. Bill Kecskes says:

    Ragnar – it was no problem researching – it’s good exercise – it took 2 minutes – I should have read the AJC link – Jim Salzar did a great job in his research – the only “eye popper” for me was the $200,000 to the GOP compared to $2,000 for the Democratic Party. It just casts the wrong perception and somebody might foolishly think a $200,000 contribution reaped a $4,600,000 dividend. I’m sure that’s furtherest from the truth but somebody could easily think that.

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