Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue must be a very happy man. Just two weeks ago, one friend helped him
secure land at a very favorable price near the happiest place on Earth -- Disney Land. The Governor's explanation for why he bought the Florida land? He likes land and he wanted to avoid buying in Georgia because it would look like a conflict of interest.
That makes sense, except he did buy land in Georgia a few years ago. The deal was also pretty lucrative, thanks in part to Perdue's power to sign bills into law. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
, a bill signed into law in 2005
shielded Perdue from $100,000 in tax liability on capital gains related to some land transactions.
Now, that might just be the result of a "happy accident" as a columnist at AJC
puts it, except that the story takes a couple of happy turns. The bill providing the retroactive tax credit wasn't signed until April 12, 2005, only three days before the provision would become law. What's more, the provision was only a small clause in an otherwise long tax bill. In other words, with only three days left in tax season, only the most attentive law watchers could have taken advantage of the clause in the way that Governor Perdue did.
Now, Governors don't write laws, they enact them, so we might still believe there is nothing fishy here, but we'd want to check on who wrote the provision, right? It turns out the clause was inserted in a rather abnormal fashion by Rep. Larry O'Neal, an old political ally and friend of the Governors.
But would O'Neal have an understanding of the Governors tax issues? Well, he sure would. See, O'Neal has worked as a tax attorney for years, including for Perdue. It's not clear that O'Neal was the one preparing the Governor's 2004 taxes, but the Governor refuses to disclose who it was.