You have to hand it to Gov. Nathan Deal; he is a real problem solver. Last year, the problem was state Sen. Chip Rogers, who had been an opponent of Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and an impediment to Deal’s legislative plans.
Almost magically, a new job and a $150,000 salary materialized at Georgia Public Broadcasting, during a year of budget cuts and austerity measures. Rogers suddenly became the second highest paid person at GPB, and just like that, he was no longer blocking anything on the Senate floor.
Now we hear news of another example of creative problem-solving on our good governor’s part.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported this week that when the Georgia Ethics Commission was in the midst of an investigation into Deal’s campaign expenditures, the commission’s newly appointed executive secretary intervened on his behalf. Current and former Ethics Commission staffers have testified that Executive Secretary Holly LaBerge ordered the removal of documents from the Deal case file and met with top Deal aides while the investigation was underway.
The revelations came under sworn testimony for a lawsuit filed by former Executive Secretary Stacey Kalberman, who claims she was forced out of office by Deal in order to fix the ongoing investigation, according to the newspaper. The AJC reported that ethics staff members testified that LaBerge said Deal “owed her one” after she claimed to have made ethics complaints against him “go away.”
LaBarge was recruited in 2011 by Deal to replace Kalberman, after she announced she was quitting. Kalberman’s resignation came after the commission eliminated her deputy’s position and slashed her $120,000 salary by about 30 percent.
LaBerge’s salary increased
from $85,000 in 2011 to $100,000, not long after Deal was hit with a minor fine. Problem solved.
Deal – who resigned from Congress in 2010 while under a Federal ethics investigation – says the allegations are “unsubstantiated.”
All this controversy might create more troubles for our good governor, but I’m confident he will figure it out.
After all, he’s a problem solver.