Political Insider

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Why financial troubles might not matter as much as they seem in Georgia politics

Over at Georgia Report, Tom Crawford has a more sweeping look at the story we brought you Thursday on Republican Chuck Payne's bankruptcy history.

Payne, a candidate for an open north Georgia Senate seat to be decided next month, said his 2013 bankruptcy filing over about $12,000 in credit card debt and consumer bank loan debt gives him a unique perspective on the state's economy.

"I’m running for office to give a voice to those who often feel like they don’t have one," he said in a statement.

Crawford sees a trend: A growing number of lawmakers in Georgia from both parties elected despite their financial problems.

From Crawford's column:

When he was first running for governor in 2010, Nathan Deal was barraged by media reports about how his financial problems could potentially result in him being forced to file for bankruptcy shortly after inauguration day. Deal won that election and eventually got his financial house in order — and avoided a bankruptcy filing.


House Speaker David Ralston paid more than $400,000 in federal back taxes, interest and penalties, and $33,000 in unpaid withholding and Social Security taxes for his law firm employees. He blamed an employee for embezzlement and has continued to be reelected by a majority of his constituents.


House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D-Atlanta) had to contend with a federal tax lien that she said resulted from claiming her medically ailing parents as dependents. She paid off the $29,725 lien and remains in the House leadership ranks.

His list goes on from there.

For more proof that a tortured financial history might not matter as much as it once did, look no further than the White House.

President-elect Donald Trump's companies filed for bankruptcy protection no fewer than six times and turned his massive losses into a tax advantage. And his refusal to disclose his tax returns - long a rite of passage for presidential contenders - seems to have mattered little to his supporters.

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.