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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 cost of the environmental damage caused each year by the world’s 3,000 largest companies:
Two thirds of U.S. teenagers experience uncontrollable rage.
Beekeepers began extracting 1 million honeybees living beneath the siding of a house in New York State.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”