Sunday February 7th, 2016 8:08AM

Report: PAC with ties to Deal raises $459,000

By The Associated Press
ATLANTA - A political action committee with ties to Gov. Nathan Deal has raised at least $459,000 in the last two years while not being required to file state disclosure reports, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Real PAC of Georgia drew donations largely from companies doing business with the state or having an interest in legislation, the newspaper reported Friday. Among the donors were companies vying to become the sole administrator of the state's taxpayer-subsidized health benefits program for hundreds of thousands of state employees and retirees, the article said.

It was not known how much the PAC has raised because they have not filed a disclosure report since early 2012. The newspaper reported that PACs do not have to file state disclosures unless they donate more than $25,000 to political candidates in a year and said it tracked the donations based on disclosures filed by contributors to the PAC.

Those connected to the PAC include Deal's business partner, Ken Cronan, who is listed as secretary, and Jim Walters, a major Deal donor from the governor's hometown of Gainesville who is listed as chairman. Also affiliated with the PAC is Rick Thompson, the former executive secretary of the state ethics commission who is listed as the treasurer.

The PAC's website shows a photo of Deal and his wife, Sandra, on stage at a campaign rally and says, ``With your help we can create a job friendly environment, better our children's education, and protect our conservative values. Join us today!'' Deal campaign materials in 2010 used the phrase ``Deal. Real.''

Thompson told the newspaper that the group, which was created in May 2011, has never supported candidates and was organized to get a political message out. The PAC will use the funds to pay for an advertising campaign starting in September that will promote the Republicans' agenda, the newspaper said.

The PAC also has not filed a federal disclosure, although Thompson said the group's activities are winding down and financial information will be released.

Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson, D-Tucker, said such secret political action committee spending is a cause for concern.

``It's a terrible way to run the American political system to allow large donors to contribute to campaigns and not have any limitations,'' Henson told the newspaper. ``If you have big special interests helping put people into office who are protecting their interests and not the public's interest, that's a problem. It's worse if the citizens can't see who is giving the money.''

Real PAC filed a state end-of-the-year campaign report in early 2012 showing it had raised $157,300 from nine donors during the final few weeks of 2011. Among those early donors was Georgia Crown Distributing Co., which gave $50,000. The company's chairman, Donald Leebern, is a major Deal campaign contributor and was reappointed to the university system's Board of Regents by the governor.

The website reported on the PAC last week.

Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution,
© Copyright 2016
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Missing Ga. bank director arrested in Brunswick
A bank director accused of losing millions of investors' dollars before vanishing last year was arrested Tuesday during a traffic stop in a city in south Georgia.
7:00PM ( 2 years ago )
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 2 years ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 2 years ago )
Business News
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 2 years ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 2 years ago )
Victim critical following apartment fire
A 41-year-old woman was in critical but stable condition Tuesday after being rescued from an apartment fire in Forsyth County late Monday afternoon.
3:16PM ( 2 years ago )
Local/State News
Medicaid growth creates gap of 5M without coverage; 409K in Ga.
About 5 million people will be without health care next year that they would have gotten simply if they lived somewhere else in America.
7:30AM ( 2 years ago )
Vandals spray graffiti against Kerry in West Bank
Suspected Jewish vandals set fire to three vehicles in a West Bank village early on Tuesday and sprayed threatening graffiti referring to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry ahead of his expected visit to the region, police said.
7:28AM ( 2 years ago )
Feds announce test sites for drone aircraft
The Federal Aviation Administration announced six states on Monday that will develop test sites for drones, a critical next step for the march of the unmanned aircraft into U.S. skies.
2:23PM ( 2 years ago )
Hall authorities continue firearms safety training for civilians
People new to owning or carrying a firearm have an free option when it comes to formalized training in Hall County.
By Derreck Booth
6:46AM ( 1 hour ago )
Marco Rubio, a first-term senator on the rise in the presidential race, faced a barrage of attacks in Saturday night's Republican debate.
MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — Marco Rubio, a first-term senator on the rise in the presidential race, faced a barrage of attacks in Saturday night's Republican debate, with rivals vigorously challenging his...
1:51AM ( 6 hours ago )
More than 20 people arrested by Georgia, Tennessee authorities on sex-related charges
Authorities say more than 20 people have been arrested on charges related to sex trafficking and online exploitation of children in Tennessee and Georgia.
By The Associated Press
6:00PM ( 14 hours ago )
Hall County plans discussion of South Hall traffic signals, maintenance of I-985 exits
Discussions involving the need for more traffic signals in the South Hall area and the maintenance of exits along I-985 in that part of the county are planned by the county commission Monday.
3:00PM ( 17 hours ago )
Labor department, VA team up for employment workshops for veterans
State labor officials are teaming up later this month with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on a couple of employment workshops in north Georgia designed specifically for veterans.
12:01PM ( 20 hours ago )