Fox5 Atlanta’s I-Team Uncovers Governor’s Campaign Payments To Daughter; Fox5 Claims Retaliation By Being Shut Out Of Presser

WAGA Fox5 Atlanta ran the following story, claiming that Governor Nathan Deal has paid $90,000 to a previously unknown company that has ties to his daughter, Southern Magnolia Capital.

I-Team: Gov. Deal Campaign Funds:

Records of the company appear to be designed to obfuscate ownership and officers, but Senator Butch Miller, who also hired Southern Magnolia Capital, confirmed that Denise Deal is one of the principals of Southern Magnolia Capital.

The Governor’s office was apparently not pleased, and the Georgia State Patrol claims to have been instructed to block Fox5 from covering today’s signing ceremony in the Governor’s office:

VIDEO: Governor Deal’s Office Bans FOX 5 Reporter from Immigration Bill Signing:

Peach Pundit will have more commentary on this later, as most contributors are either at or en route to the Republican Convention. Upon arrival, I expect delegates to be shocked, just shocked, that Governor Deal may have possibly attempted to circumvent disclosing that those close to him continue to profit from his “public service”.


  1. Calypso says:

    geeezzzzz….. I can’t even find the appropriate words for the disgust I feel at this moment.

  2. bgsmallz says:

    Is this really the worst thing in the world?
    #1- I’m not sure how Dale Russell couldn’t find the right PO Box…b/c it is listed on the SOS website.
    #2-“appear to be designed to obfuscate ownership”…are you serious? How are the filings of Southern Magnolia Capital, LLC different that 90% of the LLC’s on file with the state? Seriously…that is just silly. She doesn’t have to be an owner…..
    (now…if it was formed so she could get paid and not have to report the $$…that is a whole other issue…but I don’t think there is any evidence of that…what is there evidence of? Good gracious.)
    #3- This isn’t tax dollars or public money…this is money donated to his campaign.
    #4- What is the going rate for a state-wide political fund raising consultant? Is $90K that outrageous?

    I’m not a Deal apologist by any means…I voted for the other gal and the other guy, as a mater of fact…mainly because of those ‘ethics’ questions. (I might have been wrong to vote for the other guy, btw. Deal has impressed me with his leadership on Atlanta/State joint issues.) However, this isn’t a public issue…it is a matter between Mr. Deal and his campaign contributors. At worst, Deal is guilty of paying his daughter-in-law(?) private dollars to do work for his campaign…using a skill set that she actually has based upon her prior experience…again, why are we worked up about this?

    I think that is the only question that needs to be answered…did Southern Magnolia Captial do a legitimate job/service to earn the money? That’s a pretty low threshold and would be pretty cold water on Dale and the I-Team…thus ignore it and run the story anyway.

    • Charlie says:

      Then why not address it head on, rather than to bar Fox5 from the Governor’s office?

      Secondly, not exactly the first time we’ve seen a pattern of disclosure obfuscation from this crew. No one has said anything here was illegal (that I’m aware of). Now cue Doug Grammer to claim that settles it.

      Some of the rest of us still understand there’s what’s “legal”, and then there’s what’s “right”.

      Now let’s just wait to see if “I haven’t been indicted yet” becomes codified as the Republican party’s standard of ethics tomorrow in Macon.

      • Doug Grammer says:

        Mention the devil by name, and… well, that wouldn’t apply to me because I’m a nice guy. I guess someone (Charlie) wants me to weigh in on this. I’m not reading every thread, so I don’t see everything.

        The first question I guess we want to know is: how obfuscated is the relationship between Southern Magnolia Capital and Denise Deal? I did a Google search of Southern Magnolia Capital and the second result was:

        That took 10 seconds.

        I guess the next question is, is she qualified to fund raise and does she have the connections to do so? Former Chairman of the Hall County Chamber of Commerce? Check. Has an MBA? Check.

        Did she do the work and was the pay abnormal? I have no idea of what she did and didn’t do. She received payments as staff and also is involved in SMC. Perhaps she wanted to be 1099’d for regular work and get win bonuses through the corporation. I don’t know. It also seems as if she’s not the only person in SMC, so I doubt that she got all the money. A win bonus or a percentage of funds raised isn’t unusual.

        There are people who will want to investigate everyone for everything. Unless someone makes a charge that she only came to get her check and did not work, I’m saying molehill, mountain, and I don’t even think it’s a molehill.

        Just for kicks and giggles, I went to the SOS website and searched for Coca-Cola. There were several companies listed. I went to the last one which happened to be an LLC. THE COCA-COLA TRADING COMPANY LLC has a registered agent and no officers listed. Rumor has it that the Governor was seen drinking a coca cola product. Are they up to something nefarious? Tune into fox 5 tonight at 11 to find out.

        • you says:

          This may be nothing but when we have seen many questionable activities around the Governor in the past, he should have been more transparent.
          As you know, Mrs. Deal joined the Chamber the day before the news broke which I find odd since as you pointed out she was the Chairman of the Hall County Chamber of Commerce; so wouldn’t that be an important step in starting her new business?

          Personally, I don’t think much of this story. If it was wrong, I am sure it will come out. There is no doubt in my mind that she worked on the campaign so being paid is not a big deal.

          • Doug Grammer says:

            “As you know, Mrs. Deal joined…” I don’t know when she joined. Why would I know that?

            • you says:

              Because it was reported.
              BTW – I am not “Lady Thinker” or any of the others you have fought with so I hope you are not going to assume every comment from me is mean spirited.

              • Doug Grammer says:

                I haven’t seen any of it in the press. Living in NW Georgia, most of my media comes from the Chattanooga market. This is the only place I’ve seen anything on it. I didn’t think you were LT. She couldn’t bring herself to use a capital D in spelling the Governor’s last name.

    • Calypso says:

      bgsmallz in the above says, “Is this really the worst thing in the world?”

      I don’t think anyone said it was, but does it have to be ‘the worst thing in the world’ to express dismay, disgust and disappointment at the actions we are seeing from the governor and his staff? I had been holding out more hope for him after the way his first legislative session went; perhaps my hope was unfounded.

      • bgsmallz says:

        Good gracious.

        I don’t get barring Fox5 from the office, but if they just ran a smear piece on me like that one…full of fluff, conjecture, and very little reporting…I’d be tempted not to let them in my office either.

        What ‘obfuscation’ occurred? That’s what I’m trying to figure out. The filed with the SOS. They filed the name on the campaign disclosure. The Governors office said that they hired her during the campaign. The senator from Hall said he hired them and disclosed it. Again…where is the obfuscation on this?

        I agree wholeheartedly that Deal has done some shady things regarding disclosures…I didn’t vote for him specifically b/c he wouldn’t disclose his full tax returns…but if you want to have credibility about disclosures/integrity issues, don’t major on the minors. Don’t cry wolf. Don’t distort the real issues of integrity and credibility by jumping head-first in with this garbage.

        Don’t take hit shots at your opponent…especially in your own party…based upon shotty 11 o’clock news pieces that clearly are looking to make a story rather than to report a story. And we should think twice about questioning someone’s ethical standards just b/c they have the gall to question the sincerity of the outrage being shown by Fox 5 and/or political opposition in the face of a one-sided story that leaves convenient ‘hanging’ questions in order to inflate the importance of the news report.

    • Tommy_a2b says:

      I agree completely.

      In addressing did Southern do the job, I’m not sure if Denise Deal has co-workers but she never stops working. You all that don’t know these people should step back and get some real information before passing judgement. I really do not care if you are a fan of the Governor and those around him or not, let them have a small benifit of the doubt.

      Our Governor, the first lady, Jason and Denise, Chris Riley, etc… have been working or supporting the work of Nathan Deal for years. I am proud to be a fan of Gov. Deal. Walk a mile in a persons shoes then start your accusations.

  3. Three Jack says:

    the bigger story would be who in his family is not on some kind of revenue redistribution program. i guess the attempted diversion of signing hb87 today kind of backfired huh governor? what an idiot!

    • bgsmallz says:

      Yes…doing work for a family member and being paid for it in private funds is redistribution. Gag.

      • Three Jack says:

        prove she did any work bg. normally a fundraiser gets 10% of funds raised. did the former ed of hall county vision 2030 all of a sudden become a professional fundraiser able to raise $900k within 8 months of setting up shop. gag that!

        • bgsmallz says:

          Prove she didn’t do any work. Durrrrr…I forgot. We should assume she didn’t do any work b/c Fox 5 didn’t report that she did any work and assume that you hold the key to all knowledge on how she was to be paid and be really upset. But whatever we do…don’t assume she actually earned the money.

          • Three Jack says:

            she was a freakin exec dir with some planning group at the hall county chamber of commerce bg. then overnight she becomes a p0litical fundraiser getting paid directly by the campaign and as a contracter with smc…you must be on the governor’s staff to be defending this indefensible abuse of campaign finances.

            • TheEiger says:

              I’m not a big fan of the Gov, but Denise did work on his campaign and there isn’t anything wrong with her doing so. I agree that Southern Magnolia Capital looks fishy, but there isn’t anything wrong with Denise doing his fund raising. He had others as well.

  4. saltycracker says:

    This does not pass the “red face test” as when questions were asked, involved folks blushed & stuttered. A fund raiser that can’t easily be located, press phone calls not returned, banning of 5 from an event and apologists challenging the questions……..even his friends have to say….DUDE, if it’s all above board, why not just put it out there from the get go ?

  5. ricstewart says:

    Is it orthodox for the taxypayer-funded communications staff of the governor’s office to take this kind of role concerning an issue that took place by Governor Deal’s campaign? It would be different if this had happened during an election cycle and a media outlet was banned by campaign staff from a campaign event. It seems there should be a line drawn between the roles of the communications department of the Governor’s Office and Nathan Deal’s personal/campaign communications staff.

    Has this ever happened before? Has a public official’s taxpayer-funded communications staff ever banned someone from a PUBLIC event because they ran a story he or she didn’t like? The only one I can think of is the Obama administration blackballing FOX News?

    • benevolus says:

      And what exactly are the State Patrol’s directives and mission here? Was this a private event? How are the police allowed to enforce excluding anyone who isn’t a safety threat?

      • bgsmallz says:

        I assume…and someone can correct me if I’m wrong…but the Governor probably has a lot of leeway on who is allowed and isn’t allowed in his office, regardless of the proceedings and that control is probably maintained by the GSP.

  6. ricstewart says:

    And what, specifically, were the lies that FOX 5 told?

    Is it not true that the Deal campaign paid $90,000 to a fundraising company linked to Denise Deal?
    Is it not true that there were two large payments listed in the campaign disclosures?
    Is it not true that Southern Magnolia does not list its members on the SOS website?
    Is it not true that there is no business license for Southern Magnolia Capital listed in Gainesville or Hall Co.?
    Is it not true that there is no phone number or website associated with Southern Magnolia Capital?
    Is it not true that Senator Miller used Southern Magnolia Capital?
    Did FOX 5 get the P.O. Box wrong, or was it listed wrong on the campaign disclosures or SOS website?
    Was FOX 5 incorrect in saying that Denise Deal is the daughter in law of Governor Nathan Deal, the wife of Judge Jason Deal?
    Is it not true that Governor Deal refused to talk to FOX 5?
    Did FOX 5 alter the sound and video of the interview with Deal’s campaign manager?
    Is it not true that the campaign manager admitted it was his idea?
    Is it not true that then-candidate Deal signed off on it?
    Is it not true that Denise Deal works out of her home?
    Is it not true that Denise Deal uses a P.O. Box similar to the one listed?
    Is it not true that Denise Deal is the former president of the Hall County Chamber of Commerce?
    Is it not true that she has an MBA in government affairs?
    Is it not true that they paid her a salary and bonuses?
    Is it not true that Denise Deal did not return phone calls to FOX 5?
    Is it not true that Governor Deal is already under investigation by the campaign finance commission?
    Is it not true that Mr. Deal maintains he did nothing wrong?

    I’m not saying FOX 5 is not lying. I would just like to know which one of the statements made by FOX 5 is a lie.

    • rightofcenter says:

      Well, for starters, Wilheit was the campaign chairman, not the campaign manager. Quite a difference

      • Just Sayin says:

        Chris Riley was the Campaign Manager and is now the Governor’s Chief of Staff.

        I would be willing to bet that Wilheit and Denise Deal are the only campaign staff remaining.. which would make one of them the de facto Campaign Manager. And for purposes of this story, I think it’s best they claim Wilheit.

  7. Three Jack says:

    curiouser — denise deal was paid almost $9000 in november, 2010. smc received $50k that month. seems to me most hired fundraisers are 1099 contracters, not salary and certainly not both.

    • bgsmallz says:

      It would make more sense, as an IC instead of an employee, that she is receiving money from both the campaign directly and the LLC, correct?

      • Three Jack says:

        bg, denise was paid $9k in november by the deal campaign as a staffer while her company (smc) rec’d $50k that month. in addition, it is really odd for a fundraiser to receive a flat amount like $50k instead of a percentage of what is raised as is the case for smc in the butch miller filing where it rec’d $2165.46 in april and $7854 in may.

        i guess she could have raised $900k for her daddy in law, but highly unlikely for a startup company with an owner who had never previously worked for a political campaign. the whole thing stinks.

        • bgsmallz says:

          Wait…the LLC received that money. You are making the assumption that she was paid all the money from the LLC. We can’t be certain she is the only principal, right?

          Whatever…that’s really here nor there. My issue is that folks are making a lot of assumptions. I’m not sure about the details…but if she/the LLC was working full time in fund raising, etc. for the campaign, I’m not sure $90-$100K is unfair for a full year’s work. Wouldn’t the prudent thing be to find out what she did before claiming it stinks?

  8. saltycracker says:

    In related Friday the 13th unverified news all Fox 5 vehicles are suspected of being wrecks and have been towed to a salvage yard pending inspection before they can be driven……how unlucky can they get ?

  9. KD_fiscal conservative says:

    Wow! I liked the way he handled the last leg. session, but I guess once a crook, always a crook. This is the way the Deal family has handled themselves for years, Nathan using his position of power to “support the kids” with other all ethical considerations aside. And not surprisingly, with every new chapter to this political saga of ethical lapses the Deal apologists are always around to mindlessly repeat….. “hey, he didn’t break any laws”.

    • rightofcenter says:

      As a Deal apologist (in your eyes, I’m sure), I hesitate to point this out, but……calling someone a crook implies that laws were broken. So if “he didn’t break any laws”, you need to find another word other than crook. Try unethical. You would have an easier time defending its use.

  10. Spacey G says:

    If I ran WAGA I’d send a handwritten thank-you note (on nice stationary) to the dumb-a press person in the governor’s office who tossed WAGA out. On camera. That one bit of silly media douchebaggery has likely sent the numbers off the chart for Russell’s investigation story.

  11. NoTeabagging says:

    Is there any proof she actually did any work for the campaign? Surely somebody here on PP could remember her schmoozing it up at fundraisers or NOT present?

  12. Dave Bearse says:

    What’s all the fuss? Shady Deals are a non-issue for the Georgia electorate. That was clear after Sonny pocketed $100,000 a tax cut created especially for him by GOP leader and neighbor Larry O’Neal.

    The one who best disses teh gays and mexicans wins the GOP primary. The R after their name carries them in the general independent of ethics or platform. Newt and Cain’s Georgia roots will be a liability if hell freezes over and one of them ends up on the ’12 ticket.

    • bgsmallz says:

      And more…

      Pretty good write up on the decision to ban the reporter from the bill signing. That’s the puzzling part…we spent 30+ comments discussing a pretty meager story (IMO) that probably would have barely scratched the surface if not for the stoopid decision to block access to the bill signing.

  13. B Balz says:

    Frankly, good for Governor Deal.

    After 30+ comments, the underlying story is, at-best, meager. That a sitting Governor told a major news outlet, “Do Better and until then, here is your swat.” is refreshing. It is about time accountability is demanded for schlock.

    Says, B Balz; “Governor Deal has pair.”

  14. B Balz says:


    Seriously, though, since the ‘story’ is that the Governor used his power to deny WAGA access to HIS office for HIS ceremony, I would call the whole matter a Royal Flush.

  15. DaleRussell says:

    For the record, we got the “campaign manager ” title for Philip Wilheit from …. Philip Wilheit. I took him at his word.

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