The Larry O’Neal Story

I have now seen the Larry O’Neal story. Pete has captured the gist of it accurately.

I think the story, upon further reflection, seems to be a bit of dirty pool or amateur journalism — perhaps we should have run it here as opposed to 11 Alive.

What I mean is that O’Neal is a lawyer. He does corporate transactions including the incorporation of businesses. A lot of Republicans send business to him because they know him, trust him, and know the quality of his work.

When I was winding down my law practice I referred people to him, not that I know if he knows that.

In any event, the gist of the story is that Larry O’Neal did his job. He incorporated some businesses for friends. There is no allegation that he had any business interest in the companies, etc. He just incorporated a business.

That’s it.

The problem seems to be he did it for some of the young, up and coming guys who hang around with the Republicans in Atlanta. If we’re going to go all guilt by association, 11 Alive might want to dig into some of the Democrats in the legislature who do the same thing.


  1. ByteMe says:

    seems to be a bit of dirty pool or amateur journalism

    Or perhaps they just needed to fill time between tampon commercials and making nothing into a “scandal” keeps people watching.

    • politicalwidow says:

      You’ve been so harsh on O’Neal, with no real evidence other than guilt by association that he was supposedly “close” to Richardson.

      Question: what if O’Neal is elected speaker, fires the hawks, shuts down the private speaker’s PAC, takes care of any public conflicts the way we’ve seen with some chairmen, and manages a good budget and session – all while continuing to be faithful to his wife?

      Isn’t that what Johnson is asking for? Will you admit then that O’Neal is not what you’ve made him out to be?

      Of course, he’s got to prove that, but won’t you admit this crisis can be put behind us if O’Neal were to do that?

      • AthensRepublican says:

        It’s a signal to me as a voter that the status quo will continue. O’Neal only advocated change when it became “too much of a distraction.” He is not the best choice to lead us going forward.

      • Ken in Eastman says:


        I can’t speak for AthensRepublican but maybe you will respond to me here. The problem with Larry O’Neal, as far as I am concerned has nothing to do with the land deal, but has to do with courage.

        When Richardson had opposition, O’Neal stood by Richardson’s side. He knew everything that had happened (It was “common knowledge”, remember?). Richardson’s dictatorial behavior was obvious, too, and Larry O’Neal failed to do what was right.

        Not only did Larry O’Neal fail to stand against Richardson, he was afraid to even vote against Richardson.

        Tell me again how that is a sign of leadership.

        Tell me again how this is a man we can trust to do the right thing when faced with difficult decisions.

        Tell me again how this man deserves to lead.

        Tell me again how this man, Larry O’Neal, is the BEST person to be Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives.

        A man without the courage to do what is right in adverse conditions should not be elected Georgia House Speaker.

        • Ken in Eastman says:


          Why is it that every time I post both you and mariettaelephant disappear? I know it’s only been 20 minutes but based on prior postings, I’m guessing that you may not be back to reply.

          You’re beginning to hurt my feelings. To show that I’m really a nice person (honest!). I am going to assign you a theme song. How does Del Shannon’s great classic “Runaway” sound to you?

    • Ken in Eastman says:


      David Johnson’s piece is exactly right! Grassroots folks are very angry.

      I was wondering why politicalwidow was upset with you linking to David Johnson’s brilliant ajc piece. After I read it I understand. Here is a reason why she’s upset:

      “They must do this by electing an entire new slate of leaders with no ties to the past. Indeed, the vote for the new speaker will probably be the most difficult vote that these House members will ever cast.”

      Larry O’Neal failed to vote against Richardson last year and I believe that if Richardson were still running O’Neal would again make the same foolish mistake.

      • politicalwidow says:

        I’m back.

        I’ve seen many posts about this, and I think I’ve posted myself, but here goes one more time:

        O’Neal and about 80 other Republicans did not vote against Richardson last year, including at least one other candidate for speaker (Hembree) who is ironically running as the only “clean” candidate.

        Mrs. Richardson said herself in her interview that she actively conspired with her husband to keep proof of the affair with the AGL lobbyist a “secret.” Therefore, that means the clear proof was not out there in either 2006 or 2008.

        The “common knowledge” quote referred to rumors at the Capitol of an affair. I know first hand that many people have been hurt very badly by false and malicious rumors of affairs at the Capitol. Of course, that’s not reported in the media, but its true, and grown-ups don’t go around destroying people on the basis of rumors.

        Ralston gets credit for running against Glenn last year, but in fairness the context last year was not really Glenn’s affairs – it was his heavy-handed management style, which is a matter of taste but not one of morals (it was particularly the way Glenn punished all those members who voted against his pick for the Evans DOT race).

        The undisputed fact is that, at the height of the rumors about Glenn’s affair with a lobbyist in late 2006/early 2007, all three candidates including Ralston supported Glenn for speaker and were appointed to chairmanships by him.

        The false morality tale around here of there only being one knight in shining armor running for speaker is just that – a tall tale.

        Real life is always more complicated, more gray and less like the perfect morality tale than we want it to be. None of these men are perfect, as a lady would know 🙂

        • Ken in Eastman says:


          Thanks for responding. First of all the vote was 75 – 25 to be accurate.

          Affairs are not the only reason to depose a leader.

          In 2008 there was clear and open evidence of Glenn Richardson’s management style: dictatorial, vindictive and power-hungry. Richardson created an atmosphere in which many – apparently including Larry O’Neal – were afraid to do the right thing. That alone was reason enough to have voted against Glenn Richardson. He had become a tyrant and failure to stand against tyranny encourages its growth.

          There is no false morality tale here. David Ralston had the courage to do the right thing and suffered the consequences for doing so. Where are Larry O’Neal’s scars?

          Do you not wish Larry O’Neal had done right and voted against Glenn Richardson? Why did he fail to do so?

          Larry O’Neal is not the best choice for Georgia House Speaker and neither is Bill Hembree. I do not agree with Hembree’s heavy-handed campaign tactics myself.

          Ralston has proven that he is capable of making those difficult decisions when it’s not easy to do what is right. Larry O’Neal and Bill Hembree have not yet stood in that fire even when the opportunity presented itself.

          • Elin is Hot says:

            In 2008 there was clear and open evidence of Glenn Richardson’s management style: dictatorial, vindictive and power-hungry.

            When are you going to call for Don Balfour to step down from Senate Rules Chair?

          • Ken in Eastman says:

            Elin is Hot,

            Perhaps I need to make myself more familiar with the Senate Rules Committee – but one disaster at a time please.

      • politicalwidow says:

        And the comment “if Richardson were still running O’Neal would again make the same foolish mistake” is a cheap shot. According to the media, O’Neal was in the meetings at the governor’s mansion that were held to convince Richardson to do the right thing and resign rather than make the caucus to have to file a petition to force him out.

        I am a politicalwidow for a reason – I am married to someone who has to make hard decisions like this. It’s easy to sit behind an Internet keyboard and bang away about “what should be done” and “lack of courage” and “they must elect a new slate” etc. etc. etc.

        When it’s real people and real lives and real reputations at stake, it is suddenly not so black and white. I’m not talking about Glenn, because forcing him to resign was definitely a black-and-white issue.

        What I’m talking about is the time before that, when there were all kinds of rumors, but absolutely no concrete proof. The Internet lynch mob here thinks O’Neal should have just hanged him, regardless of that lack of proof (and regardless of the fact Ralston and Hembree also both supported Glenn at the height of the rumors in 2006).

        Let me put it this way – remember when there was a flaming hot controversy about the “sealing of Glenn Richardson’s divorce records.” The media went nuts, and there were all kinds of rumors about the terrible information that just MUST have been in those records. Story after story was written about it.

        And what did we find when the records were unsealed?

        Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

        By the standards of guilt pushed by the PeachPundit, Glenn Richardson should have been shot dead – because it was “common knowledge” those divorce records had the proof of infidelity. Except they didn’t.

        I don’t blame anybody at the Capitol for waiting until the hard proof was produced. It was, three weeks ago. And what happened? Everybody, including O’Neal, made it clear to Glenn that he had to go or he would be voted out.

        At what point do you people start thinking about what it would be like if you were in these people’s shoes and stop just pontificating? I realize they’re all a bunch of politicians, but still – even a politician ought to get a little benefit of the doubt.

        • AthensRepublican says:

          Political Widow,

          Count me in that group of angry Republicans that want a clean slate with new leadership. Larry O’Neal has come out with all these bullet points on ethics he would like to implement. My problem with O’Neal is that if he thought these were important (keeping in mind he was part of the leadership-so much that he was included in a meeting at the Governor’s mansion) why did he wait this long to propose them? Others have been calling for reform for some time. Where was O’Neal? Why was he so silent? Georgia deserves leaders with courage and commitment.

          Many of us (myself included) have put in long hours to build a Republican majority in this state (at one time fighting Democrats yes including O’Neal) What has happened and been allowed to happen has been a flat betrayal to us and the voters of this state. The House caucus has a chance to begin righting the ship before it sinks. It is sinking quickly.

          Sorry, there is no strong case for electing Larry O’Neal as Speaker and a very strong one for opposing him. He may be a nice man, but he has only recently gained a voice and a weak one at that.

        • Ken in Eastman says:


          Again, I am not referring to Glenn Richardson’s affair. I know that is what you wish to discuss because you believe you can excuse Larry O’Neal in that one regard.

          You can claim “cheap shot” but O’Neal failed to stand against Glenn Richardson when the opportunity presented itself. He, in fact, voted FOR Glenn Richardson to continue as Speaker. Those are facts – and they are facts you neither deny nor attempt to refute or explain.

          Larry O’Neal does not represent a break from the past. He clung to the Richardson administration when he knew it was wrong. Please don’t tell me there was not concrete proof. Larry O’Neal is not stupid and neither am I.

          Having failed to stand against Glenn Richardson he now wants others to stand with him against people who are much better than Glenn Richardson ever was on his best day. Why is that? It could be because this requires much less personal or political courage.

        • Ken in Eastman says:


          On a personal note, before you attempt to lecture me on “just pontificating,” I will point out that you do not know me. You do not know what I do and what I do not do.

          I was working to help build the state GOP when Larry O’Neal was still running for office – and losing – as a Democrat.

          As for “giving the benefit of the doubt” to those who failed to stand against Glenn Richardson, I am doing so though their abject cowardice makes it difficult.

  2. South by Southwest says:

    It appears that you all are wanting to criticize any and all candidates for the speakers race. Many of you have admitted that you don’t even know Larry. I think if you knew him instead of regurgitating the same rumors that have been spewed on this site you would have a different opinion. I know Larry, and have worjed with him for many years and consider him a very honest and trustworthy person that works for the best interest of the state and its citizens. C’mon, give it rest, maybe you all should focus on tiger Woods for a while…it seems that is the level of conversation on this issue you all have anyway!

    • Ken in Eastman says:

      Thanks for joining the discussion. Perhaps you would be interested in replying to my specific problem with Larry O’Neal in my reply to the now curiously absent politicalwidow?


    • AthensRepublican says:

      Good try. But, as good of a man as your friend may be, he allied himself with and even stood by silently while knowing full well what was going on under the Gold Dome. Only when it became “too much of a distraction” did he speak out. Now he wants to be our Speaker? Forget it!

      • South by Southwest says:

        The funny thing…only Bobby Kahn filed a complaint, obviously politically motivated. No one came out against the speaker for a private matter (republican or Democrat). Agreed, it was a horrible decision on the speakers part, but everyone at the capitol knew about it, even the Dems. As I recall Bill Clinton was praised for doing a “good” job as our commander in chief, and was told that his private life was just that. I think Larry needs to be applauded for focusing on the job at hand and not being sidetracked by the trash that occurs in the day to day lives of the electorate. You wanna hear about skirt chasing, just hang around the capitol and you will see it is not a partisan issue. Larry has worked for the state of Georgia and will continue to do so whether or not he is the speaker.

        • Ken in Eastman says:

          South by Southwest,

          What does this have to do with Larry O’Neal’s failure to lead?

          When Richardson had opposition, O’Neal stood by Richardson’s side. He knew everything that had happened (It was “common knowledge”, remember?). Richardson’s dictatorial behavior was obvious, too, and Larry O’Neal failed to do what was right.

          Not only did Larry O’Neal fail to stand against Richardson, he was afraid to even vote against Richardson.

          A man without the courage to do what is right in adverse conditions should not be elected Georgia House Speaker.

          • South by Southwest says:

            You have to choose the battles to fight. The budget and revenues, or lack there of are the real issues. That and transportation and water need to be addressed. Let’s get real about the facts of importance here.

          • Ken in Eastman says:

            South by Southwest,

            I can certainly see why you don’t want to attempt to defend the indefensible.

            So just be a good person and admit Larry has the leadership abilities of a crazed lemming and we’ll be done.

            Are you certain you don’t want to defend Larry on this?

          • AthensRepublican says:

            Issues of importance? To say there is a trust issue under the Gold Dome is an understatement. Nothing the legislators can do will have any credibility as long as ethics and corruption are not dealt with.

            Are you sure you might not be happier in Louisiana? Oh -scratch that-Louisiana updated their ethics laws recently. How about Chicago?

          • Ken in Eastman says:

            South by Southwest,

            You are right in that the budget, transportation and water issues will be difficult and need to be faced. We need someone; however, who is capable of making difficult decisions under trying circumstances.

            We need a person who has proven that he or she will do the right thing when it is difficult, such as standing against Glenn Richardson when Richardson was still in power.

            Not only did Larry O’Neal fail to defy Richardson, he actually voted to keep him and his iron-fisted, ethically-challenged, morally abhorrent modus operandi in power.

            Larry O’Neal has proven that he is not the man we need to be Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives..

          • Ken in Eastman says:

            I’m guessing this is a reply to South by Southwest where he is praising Larry’s failure to do anything?

  3. Daisy May says:

    A lobbyist paying a legislator to incorporate his/her business is a perfectly legal way to make a contribution without having to report it. What is all the fuss about?

    • Ken in Eastman says:

      Daisy May,

      Though I am not a Larry O’Neal supporter, I do not see the need for concern, either. There are other matters of greater importance.

      • Daisy May says:

        Kenny E,

        I don’t know who crawled under a rock and died and declared you the keeper of matters of great importance, but I am very concerned about lobbyists having such undue influence on legislators.

        When the democrats were in power, lobbyists and corporations retained legislators who were attorneys for large sums of money to sit on their ass until the legislative session came around. Nothing has changed under Republican leadership. While we are talking about ethics reform (if this is even constitutional), the legislature should consider not letting lobbyists retain the services of attorneys who are also legislators. You can’t stick your foot out at the capitol and not trip a lawyer. It isn’t like there is a shortage.

        Since attorneys are bound by attorney client privlege they may not be forced to disclose their clients or how much their clients paying for services. It is a perfect slush fund.

        • Ken in Eastman says:

          As always, feel completely free to ignore my remarks.

          As far as I know no one has declared me the keeper of anything. I do try to keep my temper, my principles and a good sense of humor.

          I do believe things are about to change for the better. Let’s see.

          • Ken in Eastman says:

            Daisy May,

            I am concerned that we only have one chance to get this right.

            Sinking revenues (probably until ’12 or ’13 at best), water problems, transportation and education are looming problems. There will be no easy decisions in the next several years. We can’t afford more unethical behavior among our leaders or among the rank-and-file house and senate members. I hope they understand.

          • Daisy May says:

            K in E,

            Sorry this is out of sequence. I am new and there is no reply link to your last response (have never been much of a blogger).

            You highlighted the important issues perfectly. I hope that the agenda of the state will come before that of lobbyists. I am not willing to recruit girlfriends for the legislature to have clean water.

            Hopefully the new leadership will bring legislators closer to the people they serve.

          • Ken in Eastman says:

            Daisy May,

            I’m optimistic about the new leadership. I really do believe things will be much better.

            This format is new here and your reply was in the best place possible.

            See you around!

        • Mad Dog says:


          You’re making some very good points. I doubt Kenny will concede any, tho.

          Legislators should not do business with lobbyists. It’s …. well …. unethical.

          It’s not a matter of attorneys. Legislators who needs some cosmetic surgery shouldn’t barter for the services in the halls of the Gold Dome with a registered lobbyist who just happens to run a resort clinic just over the Mexican border.

          I don’t see how dating a lobbyist or providing services to or accepting services from a lobbyist are any different.

          An elected official has one client. And only one client. Me, the citizen (not the literal me, Mad Dog).

          A lobbyist is not a citizen anymore. A lobbyist is a merchant for special interests who barters in many, many coins.

          Any legislator who accepts those coins, takes 40 pieces of silver.

          Well done, Daisy.

          • Ken in Eastman says:

            Angry Puppy, 🙂

            I don’t disagree with anything Daisy May wrote – well, other than that “keeper” thing.

            My point (which was before the election for Speaker nominee) was that there were other things of greater importance. My response is within the context of this thread (The Larry O’Neal Story) and referred to considerations for selecting the next Speaker.

            The concerns of lobbyists should not come before the concerns of the citizens. Clear enough?

  4. NorthGeorgiaGirl says:

    If it is true as politicalwidow says, that O’Neal was in on the meeting with Richardson to get him to resign, then he is more deeply entrenched with the problems than I thought.

    This is exactly why Ralston or Hembree ought to be speaker. Ralston demonstrated courage by running last year, and Hembree has no baggage. It’s time for a new leadership team, and a clean slate.

  5. Life and Liberty says:

    I especially liked this part of today’s speech “In my house are many rooms”
    ummm… see John 14:2 and tell me WTH he was trying to say!

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