Former House Speaker Terry Coleman and 10 current and former lawmakers closed ethics complaints today with the payment of a fine and a promise not to do it again. Coleman agreed to a $2,900 fine for making more than $38,000 in mortgage payments on a condominium that his business was purchasing. The panel also fined Congressman David Scott for failing to report the status of $83,000 left over in his state Senate campaign accounts since 2002.
DeKalb County Commissioner Elaine Boyer. She admitted technical violations and late filings of campaign disclosures from 2000 through 2004. The case was settled five years after a preliminary hearing for a fine of $800.
- State Sen. Lester G. Jackson of Savannah. He failed to file disclosures of his personal and campaign finances in 2006 and, when the January 2008 case was opened, had not paid fees for late filings of five other disclosures. He was fined $250.
- State Rep. Joe Heckstall of East Point. Heckstall failed for several years to disclose ownership of his motivational-speaking firm, The Powerfilled Thinking Group Inc. He was fined $1,500. (The commission has no jurisdiction over another aspect of the complaint, which questioned speaking fees paid to Heckstall by the city governments of College Park and Morrow. Alan Gravitt, the complainant and a high school science teacher, was particularly offended that College Park paid Heckstall roughly $500 an hour to present “pseudoscience” in his talk, including the notion that “water when freezing, reacts differentially to positive and negative human communication.” The complaint also included criticism by a Richmond County grand jury in 2002 of more than $3,500 in motivational speaking fees paid to Heckstall by the Augusta Fire Department. The fire chief at the time, Ronnie Few, was a friend of Heckstall’s. Of those who heard the lawmaker’s presentations, the grand jury said, “none felt he had helped the county in fighting fires. At best it was a waste of taxpayer money; at worst, it has the appearance of an impropriety.”
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