Larry O’Neal left the majority caucus hanging out to dry. He owes them, and us all, an explanation.

The allegations concerning Larry O’Neal, Sonny Perdue, and the land deal down in Florida are now well known. Three months after Perdue bought almost 20 acres of never seen land in Osceola County, Florida along a toll-road leading to Disney World, Larry O’Neal (pictured, left) on February 16, 2005 filed HB 488, legislation that deferred taxes on land sales starting in 2005 when similar property is purchased in another state. After the Georgia House passed the matter, O’Neal personally worked with the Senate to insert language making the tax deferment provision applicable to land bought beginning in 2004, instead of 2005. HB 488 was then returned to the floor of the House where O’Neal, himself a lawyer who has formed limited liability corporations and land partnerships for Perdue, took to the well to pass what his fellow legislators were told was a seemingly mundane tax bill requested by the Georgia Department of Revenue. Except the AJC reported several weeks later State Revenue Commissioner Bart Graham actually did not ask for the change in the law: “[Graham] had been informed about that particular change —- not consulted, but informed.”

The result after HB 488 was passed and signed into law by Perdue? Perdue himself saved $100,000 in state income taxes.

HB 488 was a piece of legislation that was highly technical and difficult to fully understand with regard to the applicability of various tax laws. The only person who truly understood its ramifications and consequences was…Larry O’Neal. When O’Neal presented it to his colleagues on the floor of the Georgia House, he offered little in the way of explanation, did not draw attention to the amendments he had sought and which were successfully inserted, falsely suggested it was requested by Bart Graham, and accepted few questions concerning the matter. He stood impassively (or, to use a Cagle-ism, flaccid) gazing out at his colleagues, willing to sacrifice their political futures for an interest important to him but which he affirmatively failed to inform anyone regarding. Remember, HB 488 was unusual in that it retroactively exempted from state taxation capital gains for scenarios precisely like Perdue’s.

Some suggest this situation is irrelevant as Georgia voted to reelect Purdue in 2006. I, and I believe many others, think it is still relevant for it shows how O’Neal is willing to sacrifice his fellow legislators who approved HB 488 on the altar of his own personal interests.

That is simply not leadership. And, to this day, Larry O’Neal still has not given a full accounting for his motivations with regard to HB 488. This is a story that will, with an O’Neal election, return to haunt Republicans. There is simply no way that this matter can be papered over. O’Neal needs to provide an adequate explanation for his actions now, before Thursday.

Furthermore, while I can appreciate Erick’s charity with regard to O’Neal’s recent statements, I believe (even though made while ill) those concerning Glenn Richardson and a ‘live and let live’ form of leadership are accurate reflections of his beliefs and knowledge.

O’Neal did know about Richardson’s shenanigans and did nothing to stop them. O’Neal also has no problem letting the majority caucus take heat for his own backroom dealings. O’Neal is a leader we do not need as Speaker…unless the status quo is what is sought.

41 comments

  1. macho says:

    I remember Perdue took a lot of heat as it was implied that he received a sweetheart deal on the property. I’m sure at this point, he’d be happy to sell it for what he paid for it.

  2. AthensRepublican says:

    The fact that this is even being discussed is reason enough for our representatives to eliminate O’Neal from further consideration. I think O’Neal is rapidly loosing support and for good reason.

  3. Ken in Eastman says:

    I’ll say it again: I’d hate to be a GOP Georgia State Representative (or Georgia State Senator for that matter) in a marginal district if Larry O’Neal is the face of the Georgia GOP in 2010.

    • Ken in Eastman says:

      Muscadine,

      The voters of this state are the employers of the elected officials and as such we are responsible for their behavior.

      They are on written warning now. Termination is the next step if matters are not brought back to an acceptable level.

  4. Lawton Sack says:

    Thank you Pete for this.

    It has been an interesting dialog the past week on this subject, and I hope that the GA GOP Legislators are listening. 99% of the people on PP want nothing more than what is best for Georgia, though we may differ on the specifics of what that means. The PP posters seldom agree on much, but some of the choices for Speaker have garnered the same reactions from many different sides. That should raise a red flag.

    We have not set out to bash Legislators, but to let our concerns be known. When we disagree with a Legislator or a group of Legislators, it is not bashing, but an expression of genuine concern.

    We ask that you weigh our opinions as you would do any other opinions, even those that are made by your colleagues in the House. Our voices are not insignificant, thus they should not be treated as so.

    I, and others, saw that this was important issue and we spoke. I went against some of the leadership of the Republican Party in doing so. I am not ashamed of that, as I was not seeking to divide but to bring light to some warning signs and wrong things that I saw and those that had been brought to my attention by those in the Grassroots. I will do it again, as necessary, if it is for the good of the people of Georgia.

    I disagree with Rep. Peake and his decision to back Rep. O’Neal, but I am glad that he was willing to come and express himself here. I hope others in the House and Senate will do the same. I would like to see some people with differing viewpoints talk about their candidate. That is good for all of us.

    • Ken in Eastman says:

      I agree 100%.

      I will also say that for those legislators who understand the concerns of the grassroots people, it is in your best interests to help your fellow representatives understand. This is not “business as usual.” It’s better.

  5. NorthGeorgiaGirl says:

    Excellent post. We definitely need new leadership.

    Hembree, Ralston, or Loudermilk…anyone but the ones endorsed by Keen and his friends….for the good of our state.

  6. HankRearden says:

    I won’t even ask Larry O’Neal to explain himself if he can show that more than 100 people got a tax break due to his legislation in the same year as King Sonny, because I’m all for tax cuts as long as they are not made for a select few. I believe this will not be possible. I believe this tax cut was writen for one man and one man alone, again King Sonny. Now that the tax code is out there, good accounts and tax lawyers will be finding ways for their clients to use it and for this I am glad. So Larry tell me and everyone else why you thought this was need other than a fat lie and I will ask people to leave you alone.

    • Mad Dog says:

      Hank,

      I tend to agree with you on it being a one man tax plan. However, we were out of step with other states. Which isn’t news. Heck, it supports your one man plan theory.

      We’re last in everything else.

      • ByteMe says:

        Since when does our state taxation rules have to be in step with any other state? What… we have to have the same tax rate and deductions, too?

  7. Hey, the Sonny tax break was brought up three years ago, and the voters determined that it was a non-issue… right? O’Neal is my preference to lead the GOP into next year’s election cycle.

    • Ken in Eastman says:

      The voters took a look at the tax issue as it affected Sonny Perdue, a sitting governor who was well-known by the voters.

      They did not take a look at the tax issue as it affected a man who is virtually unknown across the state: Larry O’Neal, a new Georgia House Speaker replacing a disgraced Georgia House Speaker of the same party.

      Do you not see a difference? There is blood in the water and the sharks are still schooling around. If you want to dive in, go ahead, but don’t take the entire Georgia GOP with you when there are better choices to be made anyway.

    • Ken in Eastman says:

      Steve Perkins,

      Then there is the matter of Larry O’Neal voting for Glenn Richardson for House Speaker last time.

      When David Ralston stood against Glenn Richardson last time, where was Larry O’Neal? Was he there when David tried to end the Hawk system? No. Was he there when David tried to replace a man who abused his office? No.

      No. Not only did Larry O’Neal not have the courage to stand against Glenn Richardson, he was even afraid to vote against Glenn Richardson.

      As I keep saying, I don’t think Larry O’Neal is a bad person but he is not the person to lead the GOP, either. Quite simply put, his actions say that he does not deserve the opportunity.

        • Ken in Eastman says:

          Steve Perkins,

          Yeah, the truth will distract you.

          Unfortunately so will trivial accusations. Care to actually reply to what I wrote?

          “Facts are stubborn things.” – Ronald Reagan

          • Touche. It’s clear that you and Indy are just far too sharp and bright for me to go toe-to-toe with. Nothing gets by you guys.

            Still, O’Neal is well-positioned to bring about the electoral results that I want to see… so I strongly urge you against changing horses in mid-stream. You should keep clearing the air about flagrant corruption in the current GOP gubernatorial administration, though.

          • Ken in Eastman says:

            Mad Dog,

            Nah. I’m just a big Ronald Reagan fan and I love quoting the guy. I’ve got more quotes by Reagan in my database than quotes by anyone other than Thomas Jefferson.

      • ByteMe says:

        There’s a reason you don’t see too many “conservative” comics. Country music, yes; comedy, not so much.

  8. IndyInjun says:

    Hey, the Sonny tax break was brought up three years ago, and the voters determined that it was a non-issue… right?

    No, they decided that Mark Taylor was the lesser of two evils.

    That is not the same thing at all.

  9. chief alewife says:

    Before he showed up as a candidate for the House, and ultimately a member, Larry O’Neal was at the legislature on the last night of the Session in 1995 to promote a project in which he was an investor, one threatened by legislation at that time. The project was a proposed landfill to be located near the only military bombing range in the eastern US.

    The armed forces opposed the landfill because the dump would attract birds that could bring down military aircraft practicing bombing runs. An amendment to a Metro Atlanta landfill bill was proposed by Rep. Buddy DeLoach (R) Hinesville, that would prohibit the O’Neal landfill from being built near the bombing range to protect the lives of the pilots, and ultimately the use of the site for training. The existence of the bombing range was often cited as an argument against closing nearby military bases, including Warner Robins AFB in O’Neal’s home county of Houston.

    O’Neal unsuccessfully lobbied against the DeLoach amendment, and he failed in that effort. The addition of the amendment to the bill provided enough votes to assure its passage, and it was then signed by Gov. Miller, and the bombing range is still in operation in Long County.

    In 1995, Larry O’Neal was perfectly willing to pose his own financial interest against the safety of military pilots, and against the economic interests of the state in the safe operation of the Townsend Bombing Range. There is no doubt that he was just as genial and intelligent then as he is now. But are those qualities sufficient to overcome the negatives associated with the kind of judgment he showed in 1995, or that he seems to have shown in securing a sweetheart tax deal for his client Sonny Perdue after he was elected to the legislature?

    • IndyInjun says:

      Wasn’t that the same landfill that Tom Allgood was involved with?

      If so, O’Neal is not anyone we want as Speaker.

      He has rotten Dem AND GOP roots.

  10. SockPuppet57 says:

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    October 25, 2006 Wednesday
    Main Edition

    Perdue tax break spotlights legislator;
    Larry O’Neal is not just the governor’s hometown pal, he’s a lawyer and businessman who has risen fast at the Capitol.

    BYLINE: CARLOS CAMPOS; Staff
    Also in the 1980s and ’90s, O’Neal was pushing plans to place landfills in two rural Georgia counties where county officials opposed the projects. One fight became particularly contentious. O’Neal and his fellow investors in GSW Inc., including Tom Allgood, a former Democratic state senator from Augusta, sued Long County and the state Environmental Protection Agency. A federal judge ruled against O’Neal’s company.

    Last year, O’Neal, Watson, Long and a local developer purchased an assisted living facility in Warner Robins for $2.5 million at a public auction. O’Neal incorporated the facility’s previous owner, which financed the purchase in 1998 with $5.5 million from bonds issued by the Houston County Development Authority. Long — O’Neal’s law partner — is the authority’s attorney.
    O’Neal, Long and the others bought the facility after its foreclosure.

  11. joe says:

    I have been hanging around this site for several years, and while I am not the most prolific poster, I do comment on a variety of topics.

    It is amusing that so many capital staffers seem to come out of the woodwork when a topic like this comes up. On this thread alone, there are 4 or 5 posters that have never discussed any other issue. I bet at least 3 of them work for somebody in government. Everything that they say pegs my BS meter.

  12. Silent Outrage says:

    If O’Neal emerges on Thursday afternoon as the next Speaker of the House, we can kiss it all goodbye.

    The best bet is a new leader and not part of the status quo leadership of the House.

    This scandal is happening far enough out that Democrats are going to recruit folks to run in districts against Republicans and make them defend the special interes corruption that exists under the Gold Dome.

    Unfortunately, there is so much more scandal that has yet to spill out, if it all makes it out into the news, we might as well all just start helping Roy.

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