Nathan Deal: Not Your Model Reform Candidate
Now that former Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) has finally secured the GOP nomination in the state governor’s race, Democrats — including White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs — are reminding the media and voters about his less than squeaky clean past. Indeed, during his last term in office, Deal was put under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for a no-bid contract his company enjoyed with the state of Georgia — one which he allegedly used his political office to preserve.
The investigation was dropped after Deal decided to leave office, but the scandal earned him a place on Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington’s “Most Corrupt” list:
Rep. Deal, along with his business partner Ken Cronan, owns a lucrative business, Recovery Services, Inc., that – through a no-bid contract – provides inspection stations to the state for the inspection of salvaged vehicles. The business earned $1.4 million between 2004-2008 and Rep. Deal personally took home $150,000 a year.
In 2008, Georgia Revenue Commissioner Bart Graham took over responsibility for the inspection system and found the operational costs and locations of the inspection stations to be too costly and restrictive. Comm. Graham decided the best course of action was to reform the system and award contracts through a competitive bidding process.
Rep. Deal and his staff, with assistance from Georgia Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, arranged meetings with Comm. Graham at which Rep. Deal and his chief of staff were present, to persuade him to reconsider his decisions, including the proposed elimination of $1.7 million that has been allocated for the program. After Comm. Graham’s plan was passed by the Georgia House, Rep. Deal’s chief of staff used his House email to contact Georgia state officials in an effort to stop the plan from passing the state Senate. The money for the program was eventually kept in the budget.
Rep. Deal’s abuse of his position and taxpayer resources to maintain a personally lucrative business deal does not reflect creditably on the House.
Considering his checkered past, Deal’s victory over a crowded GOP primary field in Georgia has surprised a number of pundits in the Peach State. He’s not exactly a model candidate in a year where one of the most popular electoral strategies is to rail against Washington’s culture of corruption and back scratching and all that.