Ethics Complaint Filed Against Senator Ralph Hudgens

It what may be becoming a tradition for the first day of the General Assembly, an ethics complaint has been filed Against Senator Ralph Hudgens, alledging that he improperly transfered $106,600 from his Senate Campaign account to the coffers of his campaign for Insurance Commissioner.

The complaint, filed by Paul Leachman of Macon Georgia, accuses Hudgens of, among other things:

* Using Senate Letterhead to ask previous donors for permission to transfer prior contributions to his Insurance Commission campaign account.

* Not actually returning the $106K in donations, but instead directly transfering them to the campaign account.

* Illegally catorgorizing the return as refunds instead of expenses, and cites OCG 21-5-33, and

* Illegally accepting 126 donations in violation of 21-5-30.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m no expert on elections law. I do know that other candidates have had whey they deemed a “check return party” where by they produced refund check for past donors, and asked them to bring in new checks for an exchange.

Knowing no facts about the actual process Senator Hudgens used to refund then re-accept these contributions, I make no judgments here. Time will tell if this is a serious violation, or gamesmenship between the 30 or so candidates currently seeking this office.

18 comments

  1. Jazzman says:

    Look I don’t know if Sen. Hudgens has broken any laws or not and I will not convict him till I see proof. However I am not going to shocked if is all true. Sen. Hudegens has been a member of the good old boy system in state house since the moment he got there back in the mid 90’s. I mean just take a look at where all of his “legal” money has come from for his Insurance race. 75% of this man’s money has come from PACs and corporate sponsors. It is nice to see even after all the trouble the GOP had this winter that we are still doing business as usual

  2. Lawton Sack says:

    The GA S.E.C. is pretty clear on how funds are to be transferred and have released an advisory opinion (link and overview below), specifically Question 2 in this occasion.

    Link: http://ethics.georgia.gov/references/opinions/sec2008-03.pdf

    S.E.C. 2008-03 Overview
    Refunding of contributions made to a candidate for the same office; Concerning the refunding of cumulative contributions and how a candidate who wishes to refund contributors for their previous contributions for one particular office may solicit these same contributors for contributions to the candidate’s campaign for a different office

  3. TidePrideGA says:

    The law is indeed pretty clear. IF the transfer was made directly without going back through the contributor for either endorsement or a fresh check, it’s a violation. But wouldn’t someone with Sen. Hudgens’ political experience know that? It seems a rather careless thing to have done.

    More disturbing to me is the allegation that Senate resources were used. The allegation doesn’t say “Senate campaign” letterhead, but rather Senate letterhead. At least one other legislator in this same race has been using resources of his legislative office for scheduling and management of the campaign for Insurance Commissioner. Somehow, that just strikes me as WRONG – whether declared of undeclared as in-kind (which it wasn’t – declared, that is).

    Full disclosure: I work for one of the non-involved campaigns for Insurance Commissioner.

    • HowardRoark says:

      If this is true, it is an absolute bonehead move. I have a hard time believing someone who has been around as long as Ralph would do this. I’m anxious to hear his statement also

      • georgiahack says:

        He admits it:
        ATLANTA – Sen. Ralph Hudgens says he’s confident he didn’t violate campaign finance laws, as alleged in a complaint filed Monday, because he got advice from the State Ethics Commission.

        Hudgens, R-Hull, acknowledges sending a letter on a replica of his official letterhead Oct. 19 to 126 contributors to his re-election campaign for the state Senate. In the letter, he tells them he will transfer the funds they contributed to his campaign for insurance commissioner unless they object before Nov. 1. As a cushion, he waited until Dec. 31 to make the actual transfer of $106,000, which became nearly one-third of his insurance-commissioner treasury.

        http://romenews-tribune.com/pages/full_story/push?article-Hudgens+faces+ethics+complaint+about+transfers+from+one+campaign+to+another%20&id=5522235&instance=home_news_lead_story

        • AthensRepublican says:

          This is correct. I was a contributor to Rep. Hudgens Senate re-election campaign. I received this letter saying these funds would be transferred to the Insurance Commissioner’s race but had the option of getting the funds returned.

          • AthensRepublican says:

            On the campaign disclosures I did notice a check I gave to the Hudgens for Insurance Commissioner campaign. Additionally, I had donated money back in Senator Hudgens re-election campaign two years ago. This old donation shows up on the 12/31 disclosure as a contribution made on 12/31. I suppose all the ones listed as donations having been made on 12/31 were actually contributions carried over to the Insurance Commissioner campaign account from the Senate campaign account. It would make more sense if these donations were singled out as transferred donations.

  4. georgiahack says:

    Looked over his disclosures for Senate and the COI and it looks pretty much like that is what he did. I also talked to one of the people whose contribution was “refunded” and he said that he never wrote another check or anything like it.

    Does not look good for Sen. Hudgens.

    I would really like to look at the complaint though.

  5. abbyadams says:

    There’s already enough corruption in the Capitol- we don’t need to voluntarily elect corruption. Hudgens is just another career politician.

    Just the same-old, same-old…

  6. Bucky Plyler says:

    If a candidate consults the State Ethics Committee, follows their advice, & then tells everybody that’s what he’s done…..

    • Mozart says:

      From the article: “He said he was advised by a member of the staff at the State Ethics Commission who has since left that the transaction complied with the law. But a complaint filed with the commission Tuesday alleges that it was a violation.”

      Hmm..was that former member of the SEC staff Rick Thompson?

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