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Posted by bryanlong on July 18th, 2013

deal-facing-microphoneGov. Nathan Deal first tried to hide his business deal with Copart Inc. by announcing it quietly over the July 4 holiday weekend.

But truth has a way of surfacing, even in Georgia politics.

Greg Bluestein, political reporter with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, uncovered disturbing facts in an investigative report that is worth your attention.

READ: Nathan Deal’s salvage yard could be fueling another controversy

Here are some highlights:

  • Copart, Inc. has been ramping up its lobbying forces. The company had no lobbyists on its payroll in Georgia when the Department of Revenue completed its audit in December 2011 and assessed $74 million in back taxes and penalties. Within months, though, Copart hired four lobbyists, including influential veterans Arthur “Skin” Edge and Trip Martin.
  • Copart warned investors that a loss in Georgia could have a “material adverse effect” on the company’s bottom line.
  • Deal attorney Randy Evans said knowing about Copart’s tax issues wouldn’t have affected the final deal either way.
  • Public records show that Deal business partner Ken Cronan had previous ties to Copart, Inc. In fact, Cronan was a member of the used parts division of the state Board of Registration of Used Motor Vehicles in August 2005 when it approved licenses for the company to operate in Georgia.

There is much more to learn about Copart, Inc. and the company’s connection to Georgia and to Gov. Deal’s administration. This story is at its beginning, not the end.

For now, we know that Gov. Deal has claimed to have no knowledge of Copart, Inc. or the company’s $74 million tax assessment from 2011. (Watch Gov. Deal's interview with WSB-TV).

Despite hiring four of the state’s best lobbyists, Copart, Inc.'s Georgia business never crossed Gov. Deal's desk or entered within earshot. Gov. Deal claims to have absolutely no knowledge of the company, its $74 million debt or its lobbying efforts.

No, I didn’t even know they had lobbyists,” Gov. Deal told WSB-TV reporter Lori Geary. “No. I don’t know of any legislation that they’ve had an interest in. Nobody’s contacted me about anything.

Gov. Deal is now Copart’s landlord. In the May 14 deal with Copart, he sold his auto salvage business but not the land. He and his business partner -- the one who served on the state board that approved Copart's license to operate in Georgia -- are each earning $10,000 per month from Copart.

Gov. Deal is profiting each month from a company that owes Georgia big.

And that’s just wrong.

Sign and share the petition: Tell Gov. Deal to collect Copart’s back taxes before pocketing their rent.

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Gov. Deal shouldn’t take another dime from this company until it has paid every penny.

We are Georgians who are ready to once again lead the South.

Better Georgia is the state's fastest growing progressive advocacy organization. We are here to make sure our elected officials listen to Georgia families, small business owners and the people who work hard each day to improve our state. We fight to make sure elected officials pass sensible laws and policies that benefit everyone, not just corporations and the political elite.

Better Georgia is ready for our state to once again lead the South. We want strong communities and schools. We want quality jobs and a culture that attracts the best businesses.

The debate in Georgia has been between the right and the far right for too long. Better Georgia is working to change the debate and change our state. With your help, Georgia will be better than ever.

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