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Deal raises $84,000 since legislative adjournment, about a fourth of it from 'home folks'

By The Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) -- Gov. Nathan Deal on Monday reported $3.9 million in cash for his re-election bid, after raising about $84,000 in 11 days since the legislative session ended. About a fourth of what he raised came from "home folks."

Deal is facing two Republican challengers in the May 20 primary. Democrat Jason Carter, who is running uncontested, was expected to report about $1.6 million in cash for his gubernatorial campaign. Carter, a state senator, outraised Deal over those 11 days and was expected to report about $416,000 in contributions for the period.

Deal campaign spokeswoman Jen Talaber said 100 percent of its contributions came from within Georgia and criticized the Carter campaign for promoting a fundraiser before the session ended. By law, legislators and statewide officials are prohibited from raising money during the session, which began Jan. 13 and ended March 20.

"We followed the rules about not lining up fundraisers during session. Carter for Governor had no such concerns," Talaber said. "Our cash-on-hand advantage allows the governor to dedicate this month to reviewing and signing bills that will benefit the people of Georgia and keep us the number one place to do business."

Carter campaign spokesman Bryan Thomas dismissed the criticism, noting the fundraiser was for the Democratic Party of Georgia and that Deal had attended a fundraiser during the session for the Republican Governors Association.

"These numbers show that Jason has all the momentum in this race," Thomas said. "Our campaign has seen an outpouring of grass-roots support from people who are tired of the governor's scandals and are looking for real leadership."

Of the $84,000 Deal reports raising in the eleven days ending March 31, $22,385 came from individuals and businesses in Hall County - his home county. All but $350 of that, which was for in-kind services, was in cash, ranging in from $35 to $5,600. There were 27 separate entries from hall County. Some businesses and individuals made more than one contributions.

In the Republican primary, Deal faces state schools Superintendent John Barge and former Dalton Mayor David Pennington. Barge, who has spoken about the challenge of persuading donors to give to a candidate challenging the governor, reported just under $18,000 in contributions. That included a $5,800 loan, and Barge had about $16,000 in cash with just six weeks to go before the election.

Pennington reported about $67,500 in contributions, which included a $3,000 loan. He had about $208,000 in cash for the campaign, a small increase over his Jan. 31 report.

In recent days, Deal's opponents have sought to capitalize on a jury verdict in favor of a former employee of the state ethics commission who claimed retaliation for work investigating the governor's 2010 personal and campaign finance reports. Deal was not a defendant in the civil lawsuit and has denied any involvement, but his opponents have used to the case to raise questions about his administration. Carter cited the verdict in a recent fundraising email to supporters.

On Monday, Deal announced a proposal to overhaul the ethics commission by allowing each branch of state government to appoint four members. The current five-person commission would grow to 12 under the plan, which would require legislative approval. The Carter campaign said Deal's proposal was an attempt to blunt the criticism, and Carter planned to detail his proposal Tuesday.

(AccessNorthGa.com's Ken Stanford contributed to this story.)
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