Deal appoints friends to port authority

By Aaron Gould Sheinin The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Gov. Nathan Deal has named his business…

Georgia (Jul 5, 2012) — By Aaron Gould Sheinin


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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Gov. Nathan Deal has named his business partner and two top contributors to the Georgia Ports Authority, a plum assignment that can open doors for businessmen. 

Deal on Friday named Ken Cronan and James Walters, both of Gainesville, and Hugh M. Tarbutton of Sandersville to the governing board of the facilities that create nearly 8 percent of Georgia's gross domestic product.

Deal, through a spokesman, lauded the appointments, saying Walters, Cronan and Tarbutton have deep business experience that will serve the state well. But the public is left to decide whether the moves are aimed at improving one of the state's most valuable business assets or aimed at granting personal favors to the governor's business and political allies.

Deal's ties to Cronan and Walters are deep. Cronan and Deal are partners in Gainesville Salvage & Disposal. Walters leases office space to Deal's campaign and contributed nearly $30,000 to the governor's 2010 election. He was also chairman of the bank that provided Deal's campaign with a $250,000 line of credit.

Walters and Cronan are also officers in the Real political action committee formed in 2011. Deal's campaign slogan was "Deal. Real." …

Kerwin Swint, a political scientist at Kennesaw State University and a Common Cause Georgia board member, said Deal is doing what previous governors have done, "but you would think that if government officials were truly concerned about ethics in government, they would avoid circumstances that could be construed to have conflict, such as this one." Tarbutton, a railroad executive, gave Deal's campaign more than $16,000.



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