Roll Call is reporting that Chattahoochee Logistics, the LLC that has its address at former Chief of Staff Chris Riley’s home, paid Riley’s wife $245,000 from 2002 to 2008.
An earlier report in the AJC, detailing the relationship between Riley, Deal, and Chattahoochee Logistics, stated that Riley was not paid for this service. Role Call adds that it is illegal for a House member to purchase services from a staff member, but is silent on purchasing services from the staff member’s spouse.
A problem appears to arise, however, in that Riley’s financial disclosures filed for this same period do not include this income paid to his wife.
Also included in both articles is the fact that Chattahoochee Logistics had to repay the House approximately $80,000 after an internal audit in 2008. From Roll Call:
In 2008, Chattahoochee Logistics also reimbursed the House for more than $80,000 in “overpayments” based on revised travel rules as determined by an internal audit, as the Atlanta newspaper reported.
The first two disclosure forms Chris Riley filed indicated that he was president of Chattahoochee Logistics, but the company dropped off his later forms.
Riley said he subsequently removed himself as a member of the LLC, although he continues to manage the company in an uncompensated position. Records maintained by the Georgia secretary of state list the company’s principal office at Riley’s home address in Gainesville.
Riley added that he received advice from the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.
“The staff director of the Standards Committee said, ‘Do I get paid to drive a car?’” Riley recalled. “‘So why should you get paid to fly an airplane?’”
Riley has previously been cited by the House and forced to donate $90,000 in excess income paid by Deal’s campaign accounts to charity.
And, in another example of Groundhog day with the Deal campaign, Deal is again referring questions not to his press secretary, but to his attorney.
It is clear that Chris Riley has been the COO of Nathan Deal Inc, and has been warned about his conduct by the House for accepting outside payments for work that was clearly part of his COS duties. He has repeatedly used his position, office, and equipment to support the outside income of both Nathan Deal and apparently himself. And Deal’s oft repeated excuse that this never came up until he decided to run for Governor is negated by his warning from the House in 2008 – when his good friend and muscle over Bart Graham – Casey Cagle – still had a back strong enough to run for Governor.
Fellow Republicans can continue to pretend they are ostriches instead of elephants, as they bury their head in the sand so they see nothing. At this stage, that is sadly expected. But to pretend that Nathan Deal and his staffs’ conduct has done anything other than be self-serving and a constant walk along and sometimes over ethical lines requires a suspension of belief that can only occur with a mother’s love or political self-interest.