ATLANTA, Ga. (Fri., October 29, 2010) -- An election-eve ethics complaint filed with the state against Republican Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, who is running for reelection, accuses him of immoral and illegal behavior while in office.
The complaint comes from Ray Boyd, a supporter of one of Cagle's opponents, Democrat Carol Porter. Porter's campaign staffers insist that neither she nor they had anything to do with the filing of the complaint.
Boyd admits he has no proof of part of his complaint.
Cagle and his campaign vehemently deny the allegations.
Boyd, of Rutledge, Ga., filed the complaint with the State Ethics Commission on Friday. The complaint accuses Cagle of having an extramarital affair with a campaign staffer, and then paying that staffer illegally-excessive amounts of campaign funds -- $181,013.69, including a $25,000 bonus -- during a period of about two years, from 2006 into 2008.
Boyd briefly ran for Governor as a Republican last spring, pledging $2 million of his own money to his campaign; he dropped out early, though, becoming disenchanted with the GOP in part because of the GOP's loyalty oath, which he refused to sign; then he became a supporter of Democrat Carol Porter for Lt. Governor, and for a mix of other Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians running for office. Boyd has also drafted a proposed, new ethics law for Georgia elected officials.
Boyd told 11Alive News on Friday that he does not have any proof of the affair as he describes it in his official complaint to the state, but "I kept stumbling across this rumor, as everybody called it. Only it wasn't a rumor like most rumors, it was the same story, exactly" every time he heard it.
Cagle is not disputing the amount of money his campaign paid the staffer. Cagle's campaign manager told 11Alive News Friday that the woman's salary and bonus were proper and legal.
But it's the allegation of the affair that Cagle calls a lie.
"Mr. Boyd's allegation is absolutely false and deliberately hurtful to the Lt. Governor, his family and the staff who work for him," said Cagle's Campaign Manager Ryan Cassin. "Carol Porter obviously wants someone else to spread lies on her behalf, and her willingness to spoon feed poison to an attention-seeking millionaire is despicable and pathetic. We expect Carol's dirty tricks team to continue these kind of attacks over the next several days in a desperate attempt to erase a 20 point deficit," Cassin said.
Porter's campaign manager, Mike Berlon, insisted Friday that Porter had no idea that Boyd had filed the complaint, and that she and her campaign had nothing to do with Boyd's decision to file it.
Berlon said, in fact, he told the Cagle campaign this past Wednesday that Porter was refusing to mention allegations against Cagle that had been swirling in the blogosphere and elsewhere, and that she had ordered everyone in her campaign not to raise any of them against Cagle.
However, on Friday, after Boyd filed the complaint, Berlon said it merits investigation by the State Ethics Commission.
"When you look at the evidence attached to it, it certainly appears that there's some substance to it just on its face, with the amount of money that was paid to the campaign staffer," Berlon said.
The woman mentioned in the complaint also denies having an affair with Cagle, according to a statement provided to 11Alive News from the Cagle campaign:
"Mr. Boyd's accusations are appalling and insulting. There is no truth to any of this whatsoever. As a private citizen, I'm shocked that he and others would bring me into their failing and desperate campaign."
Another woman mentioned in the complaint, who supposedly has knowledge of the affair, is denying it according to a statement that the Cagle campaign forwarded to 11Alive News from her attorney, state Sen. Seth Harp, (R) Midland:
"The author of this ethics complaint, Ray Boyd, has harassed me and my family at home and at work over the past several weeks in an effort to coerce me into lying. Mr. Boyd, working directly with the Carol Porter campaign, has offered both high-paying jobs and full payment of my ongoing chemotherapy expenses in exchange for false testimony about events that never happened and I have denied dozens of times."
Boyd told 11Alive News that if any of the people he names in the complaint want to sue him for libel or anything else, "that would be the dumbest thing they've ever done, but let 'em jump out there... I'd love to have them sue me," because he'd then be able to question them under oath.
The State Ethics Commission already has the power to issue subpoenas and take sworn testimony, if necessary.
According to its website:
"The State Ethics Commission enforces the laws under its jurisdiction through discreet investigative proceedings and open hearings. Most cases considered by the Commission are initiated through the filing of sworn, written complaints which allege a violation of one or more laws under the Commission's jurisdiction. Enforcement powers include, but are not limited to, assessment of civil penalties and administrative costs, ordering of remedial actions, suspension or revocation of lobbyist registration privileges, and where necessary, reporting of suspected violations of law to the appropriate law enforcement authority."
The Lt. Governor, as the President of the Senate, has a say in appointing one of the five members of the Ethics Commission:
"The Commission is comprised of five appointed members. The Governor appoints three members, not more than two of whom shall be from the same political party, two for terms of three years and one for a term of two years; one member shall be appointed by the Senate Committee on Assignments for a term of four years; and one member shall be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives for a term of four years."