Even before the verdict was in Friday, Gov. Nathan Deal was already distancing himself from the ethics trial going on just down the block from the statehouse. He told us that "they try to drag me into it; I have no involvement whatsoever."
Speaking in Macon for the first time since the jury's decision, he stuck to that line. GPB's Adam Ragusea reports that Deal declined to comment on the verdict, which sided in favor of former ethics agency head Stacey Kalberman, who claimed she was forced from her job for too aggressively investigating a complaint from Deal's 2010 campaign.
He dodged questions about specific testimony by saying he wasn't monitoring the case. And when pressed for comment, he said only that he has no control over the ethics commission.
“I would simply say that any ethics allegations against me were resolved about two years ago,” Deal said. “The only (substantiated allegations) were technical violations, such as failure to list somebody’s name appropriately that was a member of our campaign staff, those kind of technical violations.”
His campaign opponents certainly haven't been quiet about it.
Democrat Jason Carter's operation was the first gubernatorial campaign to report how much it had raised by the March 31 deadline.
The campaign said Sunday it raised about $416,000 in the 11 days after the session's end. Carter, Deal and Superintendent John Barge were all prohibited from raising cash during the legislative session that ended March 20.
Carter's camp said he'll report having $1.6 million cash on hand when the report is filed on Monday. It says the brunt of its donors - about 5,100 of the 5,500 who gave this quarter - were new to the campaign, which could also mean many of them are out-of-state donors. Those details weren't immediately available and the campaign declined to comment.
Deal is sitting on the biggest cash hoard - about $4.3 million by January's end - and he'll report his fundraising figures Monday. Same with Barge, who had about $26,000 in cash the last filing. (His camp advises not to expect big figures).
But the most interesting could be from former Dalton Mayor David Pennington, who had roughly $200,000 in his campaign piggy bank as of late January. He was the only gubernatorial candidate who was able to raise funds freely over the last three months, giving him an advantage none of his rivals had this winter.