The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Naomi Seligman 202.408.5565

CREW Files Ethics Complaint Against Rep. Deal


Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)
filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics against Rep.
Nathan Deal (R-GA) for violating House rules and federal law by
intervening with Georgia political leaders to preserve a program that
financially benefits him.

This past weekend, the Atlanta Journal-Constitutionreported
that Rep. Deal, along with his business partner Ken Cronan, owns a
lucrative business, Recovery Services, Inc., that - through a no-bid
contract - provides inspection stations to the state for the inspection
of salvaged vehicles. The business earned $1.4 million between
2004-2008 and Rep. Deal personally took home $150,000 a year.

In 2008, Georgia Revenue Commissioner Bart Graham took over
responsibility for the inspection system and found the operational
costs and locations of the inspection stations to be too costly and
restrictive for the state of Georgia and its residents. Comm. Graham
decided the best course of action was to reform the system and award
contracts through a competitive bidding process.

Rep. Deal and his staff, with assistance from Georgia Lieutenant
Governor Casey Cagle, then arranged meetings with Comm. Graham at which
Rep. Deal and his chief of staff were present, to persuade him to
reconsider his decisions, including the proposed elimination of $1.7
million that has been allocated for the program. After Comm. Graham's
plan was passed by the Georgia House, Rep. Deal's chief of staff used
his House email to contact Georgia state officials to ensure the state
Senate did not pass the cut in the program. The money for the program
was eventually kept in the budget.

Rep. Deal may have committed a federal crime by using his position
and congressional resources to engage in self-dealing, thereby
depriving his constituents of his honest services. By using
congressional resources, including House computers and staff time to
pursue his business interests, he violated the federal law and House
ethics rules requiring taxpayer funds be applied only to official
business. By using his position to force Comm. Graham to meet with him
and his chief of staff to discuss his personal business, and by
contacting other Georgia politicians to influence a vote on a state
budget matter, Rep. Deal violated the House rule prohibiting members
from using their positions to obtain financial benefit. Finally, Rep.
Deal's course of conduct violates the House rule requiring members to
act in a manner that reflects creditably on the House.

Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW, said, "Astonishingly,
Rep. Deal seems to believe he has the right to use his position as a
member of Congress to ensure no one -- not even a Georgia official --
interferes with his sweetheart deal with the state of Georgia. The
Office of Congressional Ethics and perhaps the Department of Justice
should be able to teach Rep. Deal a valuable lesson: public service is
not intended as a path to self-enrichment."

Read CREW's complaint to the Office of Congressional Ethics in the Related Documents section on the right.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting ethics and accountability in government and public life by targeting government officials -- regardless of party affiliation -- who sacrifice the common good to special interests. CREW advances its mission using a combination of research, litigation and media outreach.