Few states were impacted by last week’s Republican victories as much as Georgia. In addition to defeating Blue Dog Rep. Jim Marshall (D), Republicans seized control of every single state-wide office and expanded powerful majorities in the legislature, giving them a position of strength they have not had in modern political history.
Former Rep. Nathan Deal (R) won the governor’s race 53-43, handily defeating former Gov. Roy Barnes (D). During the campaign, Deal had to overcome numerous serious investigations and allegations of corrupt behavior, including his history of exerting political influence to win no-bid contracts for businesses he had a financial stake in. Many good government watchdogs worried that a Deal governorship would continue to use political means for the private profit of special interests tied to Deal.
This morning, the Deal campaign released a list of staffers who comprise his transition team. The list reads like a who’s who list of some of the state’s top special interests and lobbyists — people who have represented corporate giants ranging from Georgia Power to Goldman Sachs. Here are a few highlights:
– Rogers Wade: Wade is leading the transition team. He is currently the Chairman of the Board of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation (GPPF), a far-right local think tank which seats numerous corporate special interests on its board. Before joining GPPF, Wade was a “senior partner in the public affairs firm of Edington, Wade and Associates.” While there, he represented “over half of the Fortune 100 companies from throughout the United States and Europe.” He is also the former vice president of Watkins Associated Industries, a “national company with major holdings in transportation, development, seafood processing, insurance and communications.”
– Pete Robinson: Robinson is the Chairman of Troutman Sanders Strategies, a major Atlanta-based lobbying firm. The firm has in the past defended major polluters and employers fending off labor abuse lawsuits.
– Joe Tanner: Tanner is the president of Joe Tanner & Associates, another Atlanta-based firm heavily involved in lobbying. His firm has served such clients such as WellStar Health System and energy giant Georgia Power.
– Monty Veazey: Veazey is what the Center for Public Integrity calls a “hired gun” — a former legislator who was quickly snapped up to be a lobbyist soon after he left office. He has lobbied on behalf of the Georgia Industrial Loan Association and Kraft Foods, among other corporate clients.
– Rob Leebern: Despite the fact that Deal spent much of his campaign attacking Washington, D.C., he has hired a D.C.-based lobbyist to work on his transition team. Leebern, like Robinson, does lobbying work for Troutman Sanders Strategies.
– Dan Lee: Lee, like Veazey, is a “hired gun.” Shortly after leaving office, he lobbied for such clients as the Corrections Corporation of America, United Healthcare, Goldman Sachs, and New South Energy.
The Deal campaign maintains that none of the transition team members will engage in lobbying activities while they are working for the Governor-elect. Yet the fact remains that Deal has chosen some of the state’s most well-connected conduits for corporate influence in government to staff the team that will be moving him into the Governor’s mansion. If anything, it appears that Deal is signaling to the state’s special interests that pay-for-play is well and alive in the state’s capitol.