The Georgia Association of Realtors endorsed Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s bid for governor on Thursday, another chapter in the business group’s long relationship with the Gainesville Republican.
The association, which claims about 37,000 members, ran into trouble a decade ago after backing Cagle’s campaign for lieutenant governor.
It was assessed a record $80,000 fine in May 2008 for failing to disclose more than $585,000 in campaign contributions and other expenditures in 2006.
From a May 2008 story by James Salzer:
Among the contributions not disclosed was more than $200,000 that went to an "independent committee" that ran media advertising in support of Cagle, according to campaign reports. Cagle's campaign has denied any direct connection with the group, known as Realtors for Cagle.
The association --- traditionally among the biggest donors in Georgia political races --- acknowledged last year that it didn't file campaign disclosures for much of 2006.
The group fired the comptroller who failed to file the forms, and the Ethics Commission received the reports --- some of which were more than a year overdue --- in August of 2007, according to commission records.
State law allows groups to set up independent committees to promote candidates and causes. Realtors for Cagle collected $216,000 from the association in 2006, then spent $208,000 on advertising, according to campaign disclosure reports.
Such groups can claim independence as long as they don't coordinate their efforts with a candidate. It allows them to get around contribution limits. The law has been heavily criticized by the watchdog group Common Cause Georgia.