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U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal, a Republican candidate for governor in 2010, personally intervened with Georgia leaders to preserve an obscure state program that earns his company nearly $300,000 a year. Deal on three occasions in the past year and a half met with state Revenue Commissioner Bart Graham to question proposed changes Graham wanted to make in the way Georgia inspects rebuilt salvaged vehicles. Deal coordinated his efforts through the office of a political ally, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.
Also, Deal’s chief of staff used his congressional e-mail account to contact Georgia Senate and Revenue Department staff to discuss the plans and to set appointments for Deal to meet with officials, including Cagle. Deal and Ken Cronan own and operate Recovery Services Inc., also known as Gainesville Salvage & Disposal, which for nearly 20 years has enjoyed a lucrative agreement with the state that earned the company $1.5 million from 2004 through 2008, according to state records. The company provides a location and equipment for state inspectors to examine salvaged vehicles. Deal and Cronan never had to compete for the business, state officials said.
Deal personally earns up to $150,000 a year from the enterprise, according to reports he files with the U.S. House. Graham has tried for years to expand the system through competitive bidding or privatization. Ultimately, Deal prevailed; the program, which at least two state leaders call a monopoly, remains unchanged
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
Estimated acres of forest Henry David Thoreau burned down in 1844 trying to cook fish he had caught for dinner:
The bombardier beetle, which can fire liquid at its enemies from its rear end at up to 300 squirts per second, was being scrutinized in the hope of building a better airplane engine.
London Fire Brigade investigators blamed a building fire in South London on a bird that carried a lit cigarette to its rooftop nest. “Smokers,” said neighborhood baker Richard Scroggs. “What can you say?”
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“American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”