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Investigations


Alt-right targeting colleges, experts say. Is Georgia prepared?

In March the Georgia Board of Regents adopted a system-wide “freedom of expression” policy limiting outside speakers and large demonstrations to specifically designated campus areas as a way of handling protests. But it’s unclear if that policy would provide any protection against the type of speech that roiled the Auburn University campus Tuesday when white supremacist Richard...


Georgia lobbyists, lawmakers dine out on weak ethics law

Georgia lobbyists, lawmakers dine out on weak ethics law

Asking lawmakers at the State Capitol to give up the freebies they receive from lobbyists is like asking an alcoholic to stop drinking. They first have to admit they have a problem. In 2013, the General Assembly passed a significant lobbying reform bill, answering the loud complaints of voters across the political spectrum. With four years of perspective, I think we can admit that parts of it don&rsquo...
Is Atlanta a segregated community?

Is Atlanta a segregated community?

A new study by the Urban Institute finds that cities where residents are segregated by race and income are less prosperous than more integrated cities. To further its point, the Washington, D.C.,-based public policy center ranked the 100 most populous cities in the nation by degree of segregation. Researchers found that areas with higher levels of racial and economic segregation had negative effects...
Oversight lags as for-profit firms take on caring for the vulnerable

Oversight lags as for-profit firms take on caring for the vulnerable

Christen Gordon became a ward of the state when she was 9 months old. Disabled since birth, she would never walk or talk, never dress herself or eat on her own. She would never live a day without constant assistance. For a decade, she got that support at Central State Hospital in Milledgeville. By all accounts, she thrived. But then, in 2012, the state outsourced her care to a for-profit corporation...
AJC investigation wins national recognition

AJC investigation wins national recognition

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has won another national award for its investigation of doctors who sexually abuse their patients. Investigative Reporters and Editors this week honored the “Doctors & Sex Abuse” project as the best investigative work of 2016 by a mid-sized print or online news organization. Judges noted that the Journal-Constitution unveiled system sex abuse of patients...
Here’s what you need to know before playing daily fantasy sports

Here’s what you need to know before playing daily fantasy sports

Georgia lawmakers this year shelved a bill that would have legalized online daily fantasy sports by declaring them games of skill, not chance. But if daily online fantasy sports ever does get Georgia’s OK, players should know this about the skills involved. Most winners are professionals who use automated computer “scripts” and sophisticated statistical and game theory strategies...
How Atlanta can speed up I-85 repairs

How Atlanta can speed up I-85 repairs

In the days after a spectacular tanker truck fire collapsed a busy San Francisco Bay area interchange overpass, the region braced for a traffic nightmare that California officials estimated could last months. Then a tall, brash road builder with a record of working fast stepped in with a bold plan. Eight days after the 2007 bridge collapse, C.C. Myers told the world he would beat the state-set completion...
I-85 collapse exposes vulnerability of congested city

I-85 collapse exposes vulnerability of congested city

In the shadows beneath the interstate, a chain-link fence surrounded long-forgotten construction materials. A bent gate yawned wide, enough to render a padlock securing the site all but useless. This is where two of Atlanta’s most intractable problems – traffic congestion and chronic homelessness – converged late Thursday afternoon. A fire allegedly set by a homeless man engulfed ...

Used car dealers didn’t warn buyers about possible safety recalls, FTC says

In selling used cars, CarMax, Georgia-based Asbury Automotive Group and West-Herr Automotive Group advertised how rigorously they inspected them. But the dealers didn’t adequately disclose that some of the cars needed repairs because of safety recalls, the Federal Trade Commission charged. On Friday, the three companies were ordered to mail notices to customers to let them know that vehicles...
Eminent domain bill opens condemned land to private development

Eminent domain bill opens condemned land to private development

Georgia lawmakers Thursday approved allowinglocal governments to seize blighted property for economic development, altering eminent domain reforms passed more than a decade ago. The changes in House Bill 434 worry those concerned that government officials will abuse the power. “We see this as expanding eminent domain,” said Tochie Blad, a Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods board member...
Bribery probe: Atlanta releases 240,000 more pages of records to prosecutors

Bribery probe: Atlanta releases 240,000 more pages of records to prosecutors

Atlanta City Hall said Tuesday it has provided about 240,000 pages of additional documents to federal prosecutors in response to a subpoena delivered last month in the ongoing federal investigation into municipal contracts. PHOTOS: Who’s who in the Atlanta City Hall bribery probe? The new cache of records relate to the city’s former chief purchasing officer, Adam Smith, who was fired...
Watchdog: Georgia bill lets cities take blighted land for developers

Watchdog: Georgia bill lets cities take blighted land for developers

Georgia voters are not fans of eminent domain — the condemnation of private property by government — especially when government officials do it to fatten their tax base. In 2006, Georgia voters sent as strong a message as you are likely to hear when 83 percent of them said government shouldn’t seize private property for economic development projects. The amendment to the state...

Gwinnett man is 22nd convicted for rigging bids at foreclosure auctions

On the long list of those who profited from the misery of the Atlanta-area foreclosure crisis, you can add the name of Clifford Wayne Hill. For more than four years, Hill, who conducted business through his company SalesForce Inc., conspired with others to rig foreclosure auctions in Gwinnett County, a federal indictment charged. On Friday, Hill pleaded guilty to his role in the scheme, the Justice...
Atlanta age bias case being appealed to U.S. Supreme Court

Atlanta age bias case being appealed to U.S. Supreme Court

Can a job applicant sue an employer for discriminating against older workers? The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals here last fall answered a resounding no in a case brought by an Atlanta man who got no response when he applied for a sales job at R.
Serial sex crimes case focus of new ‘Breakdown’ podcast ‘Predator, M.D.’

Serial sex crimes case focus of new ‘Breakdown’ podcast ‘Predator, M.D.’

Vinni Gupta was a serial sexual predator whose spree lasted 14 years, throughout most of the time he lived in the United States. He abused the daughters of his friends and neighbors. He abused co-workers. Some of his own employees accused him of groping and harassing them. A job applicant even accused him of groping her during the interview. “I’m there basically in a room, helpless, by...

Fulton tax chief Ferdinand may finally get a cut in pay

After years of failed attempts, the Georgia legislature has finally approved a bill stopping one of the ways Fulton County Tax Commissioner Arthur Ferdinand personally profits from his position. If approved by the governor, House Bill 375 would bar the collection of fees for issuing tax executions. Since at least 2010, Ferdinand has been personally collecting 50 cents every time his office sells a...
Brookhaven man hid embezzlement conviction, federal agency says

Brookhaven man hid embezzlement conviction, federal agency says

Not just no, but hell no was the answer a Brookhaven man got from a federal agency that oversees one corner of the financial markets. Ronald Edward Fisher was turned down in his request to register himself and his firm, Zero Chaos Advisors, with the U.S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission, which oversees futures and swaps markets. What’s more, Fisher agreed to never to apply for registration...

Georgians on the hook for failure of long-term care insurance firm

A massive insurance company failure could cost Georgia millions of dollars. What’s more, some of the 2,000 Georgia residents who purchased long-term care insurance from the company could eventually be left without enough money to pay nursing home bills. Penn Treaty Network Insurance Company and its subsidiary American Network Insurance Company are short nearly $4 billion needed to cover promised...

Georgia college president paid $9.6 million and gets a free house

Among all the nonprofit colleges in the U.S. – think Emory, Duke, Harvard and many more, including leading research universities – which would you think has paid its president the most? It’s one in Georgia. But not who you might think. According to the Wall Street Journal, the latest available data shows that it’s Savannah College of Art and Design, where compensation for...
AJC Watchdog: Tara Grinstead podcast challenges secrecy in criminal investigations

AJC Watchdog: Tara Grinstead podcast challenges secrecy in criminal investigations

Payne Lindsey, whose “Up and Vanished” podcast quickly became one of the nation’s most popular downloads after he started it last August, said he tried to get the official file into Grinstead’s disappearance from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, but he had no luck. State open records law allows police to withhold files in pending investigations. Grinstead went missing nearly...
AJC Watchdog: Grinstead murder mystery hampered by Georgia secrecy

AJC Watchdog: Grinstead murder mystery hampered by Georgia secrecy

For years the disappearance of Ocilla school teacher Tara Grinstead was the coldest of cold cases. Grinstead had not been seen since she left a cookout Oct. 22, 2005 and despite years of investigating, law enforcement had yet to make an arrest. It was just the project Atlanta-based documentary filmmaker Payne Lindsey had been looking for when he stumbled across the former beauty queen’s name...

Georgian man convicted of conspiracy in armed takeover of federal facility

A Georgia man is facing up to six years in prison after being convicted of conspiracy in the seizure of a federal wildlife refuge last year in Oregon. The jury didn’t buy defense arguments that Jason Patrick of Bonaire, Ga., and others were staging a political protest, after seeing evidence that included photos of some other occupiers with guns sitting at the desks of federal workers. The occupiers...
AJC Watchdog: Court watchers wary of new rule on cameras

AJC Watchdog: Court watchers wary of new rule on cameras

A proposed revision of the rules governing cameras in Georgia’s courtrooms has some government transparency advocates nervous . But one of the judges tasked with making the changes says the effort is to crack down on abusive broadcasting using smart phones, rather than closing the courts to the media. “The mainstream media has never been the issue,” said...
AJC Watchdog: Will rule change make Georgia courts less public?

AJC Watchdog: Will rule change make Georgia courts less public?

When it comes to government transparency, Georgia has a spotty track record. Take, for example, the Georgia General Assembly, which writes the open meetings and open records laws but conveniently exempts itself from both. But the state’s courts are a different animal. Georgia’s record for openness in its court system is pretty good, especially when it comes to allowing the media in with...
AJC Watchdog: Ricin arrest nets federal charges for Georgia man

AJC Watchdog: Ricin arrest nets federal charges for Georgia man

Federal prosecutors have charged a Fannin County man with illegal possession of a biological agent, a crime which carries a five-year prison sentence. William Christopher Gibbs, Morganton, was arrested Feb. 2 after he drove himself to a local hospital in Fannin County, reportedly to seek help for exposure to the ricin, a deadly poison obtained from castor seeds. It is unclear why Gibbs, 27, had...

Lawsuits accuse medical companies of exploiting diabetic and kidney patients

Medical companies schemed to take advantage of patients’ chronic illnesses to pump up profits, according to two unrelated lawsuits filed on behalf of Georgians. One suit, filed by a retirement fund for Georgia law enforcement officers, accuses DaVita of targeting low-income and elderly kidney dialysis patients in a strategy to boost stock prices. It worked like this, the suit says: DaVita steered...
AJC Watchdog: North Ga. man arrested for ricin radicalized online

AJC Watchdog: North Ga. man arrested for ricin radicalized online

It’s a nightmare scenario. A disaffected, disturbed young man with a criminal history becomes radicalized by online extremist propaganda and is discovered with a weapon of mass destruction. Fortunately, he is caught by federal authorities before he could hurt anyone. Such is the case of William Christopher Gibbs, a 27-year-old north Georgia man arrested earlier this month when authorities say...
Cancer hospital wants new deal from state lawmakers

Cancer hospital wants new deal from state lawmakers

With a new wave of advertising and a new bill at the Georgia General Assembly, Cancer Treatment Centers of America has re-ignited its ongoing turf war with the rest of Georgia’s hospitals. The “destination cancer hospital” is again seeking to change the terms of a 2008 legislative deal that permitted the cancer-only hospital to come to Georgia, arguing that more in-state patients...
Latest Atlanta bribery news tough to interpret, former prosecutor says

Latest Atlanta bribery news tough to interpret, former prosecutor says

The FBI’s seizure of a computer from the office of Atlanta’s chief procurement officer, shortly after the officer was fired on Tuesday, doesn’t necessarily mean that Adam Smith is implicated in the government’s bribery investigation, says a former prosecutor.

Loganville firm warned that supposed cancer-cure products could be seized

A Loganville company seems to be in the miracle business. For $300, it has been selling a cancer treatment kit with a product said to be “an effective tool in shrinking tumor size and mass, reversing illness and increasing health and vitality of patients.

911 call hinted at prison’s dysfunction after inmate’s hanging

Confusion reigned inside the isolation-segregation unit at Smith State Prison when inmate Richard Tavera hanged himself in his cell, and it didn’t end when guards finally summoned paramedics. For more than a minute,  a prison official — a woman who didn’t identify herself by name — struggled to tell the Tattnall County dispatcher why EMS was needed at the Glennville facility...
Mystery surrounds key figure in Atlanta bribery case

Mystery surrounds key figure in Atlanta bribery case

She is an openly gay Baptist minister who purportedly supplied a politician with strippers and prostitutes. She filed bankruptcy, created and quickly shut down companies, and lost property through foreclosure, yet paid for a $775,000 house in two massive installments. She became a skilled operative for politicians in trouble, but now is in a tight spot herself: the middle of a bribery investigation...
Guards stood by and watched as Georgia inmate hanged himself

Guards stood by and watched as Georgia inmate hanged himself

Officer John Calhoun was on duty in the isolation-segregation unit at Smith State Prison in South Georgia late on a Sunday night when he witnessed a disturbing sight. Inside Cell J1-124, Richard Tavera, a 24-year-old inmate with a history of mental problems, was looping one end of a bedsheet around a sprinkler on the ceiling and the other end around his neck. Calhoun immediately recognized that he...
Medical boards mum about allegations involving ex-Georgia ob/gyn charged with sex assault

Medical boards mum about allegations involving ex-Georgia ob/gyn charged with sex assault

Georgia hospitals offered no public explanations when obstetrician Paul Harnetty apparently lost his privileges in 2010, news reports show. His medical group had nothing to say, either, other than that he was “disassociated” from it, the Macon Telegraph reported at the time. Mum was the word from the Georgia Composite Medical Board, too. It took no public disciplinary action against Harnetty...
Georgia police fundraiser: Where did the money go?

Georgia police fundraiser: Where did the money go?

People across Georgia are getting telephone calls from a deep-voiced solicitor who sounds sort of like a real person, and a little like a computer. He’s calling, he says, on behalf of the Fraternal Order of Police- Georgia State Lodge. The group needs money, he says, to pay for bulletproof vests, to help families of officers injured or killed in the line of duty and to operate its lodge. Plenty...
In Atlanta bribery case, echoes of past scandals

In Atlanta bribery case, echoes of past scandals

At 11:30 Thursday morning, Kasim Reed cast himself in a strangely familiar role for Atlanta mayors: the public face of a City Hall bribery scandal. For 30 minutes, Reed answered reporters’ questions against a backdrop of 147 boxes that held some of the 1.4 million documents the city has turned over to federal investigators. He wanted to illustrate that his administration has nothing...
A hazy scene at City Hall document dump

A hazy scene at City Hall document dump

Reporters sorting 1.4 million pages of paper documents inside Atlanta’s old City Council chambers became mildly alarmed Friday morning when a sickening electrical smell turned into a smoky haze.
AJC Watchdog: Former lawmaker’s casino letter not ‘lobbying’

AJC Watchdog: Former lawmaker’s casino letter not ‘lobbying’

State law prohibits former government officials from lobbying for a year after leaving office , but one recently retired state representative points out there is nothing prohibiting him from consulting on legislation. In a letter written to casino industry lobbyists last month, former Rep. Rusty Kidd, I-Milledgeville, offered that he had been talking to lawmakers about...
Bundy follower from Georgia facing trial for wildlife refuge takeover

Bundy follower from Georgia facing trial for wildlife refuge takeover

Jason Patrick of Bonaire made a name for himself in Georgia, at least among some members of law enforcement. Now, the Georgia man is going on trial in Oregon for the armed occupation of a national bird sanctuary. Patrick was one of the last people to leave the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge after the group’s original leader, Ammon Bundy, called on followers to go home. While Bundy and six...
UPDATE: Bickers subpoena among bribery probe documents

UPDATE: Bickers subpoena among bribery probe documents

5:00 p.m. Work continues as reporters go through boxes of documents at City Hall. News crews are setting up to get in their live shots before city officials will shoo journalists out for the day.
AJC Watchdog: Ga. Capitol culture rewards insiders, punishes outsiders

AJC Watchdog: Ga. Capitol culture rewards insiders, punishes outsiders

A letter circulating this session from a former state representative puts a fine point on the lawmaker-to-lobbyist pipeline at the Capitol. Just a week after the start of the session last month, former Rep. Rusty Kidd sent a letter to lobbyists working for the casino gaming industry assuring them he was on the case, despite a one-year ban on lobbying activity for former lawmakers. “I can...

Fulton DA won’t prosecute mystery man who bilked federal agency, report says

This just in: The federal Bureau of Land Management screwed up: It paid a vendor $20,720 to deliver eight backup power supply units. But it made the payment after receiving only one. Then BLM couldn’t contact the vendor to either collect the other seven units or get a refund. So it called in the watchdog of the U.S. Department of the Interior to investigate. The investigator eventually found...
Did ADHD make a Ga. banker commit fraud? And what is this doctor’s excuse? The sheriff’s?

Did ADHD make a Ga. banker commit fraud? And what is this doctor’s excuse? The sheriff’s?

A Georgia banker may suffer from “impaired executive functioning”, but he doesn’t deserve a new trial for defrauding his bank and helping drive it into insolvency, a federal appeals court has ruled. In appealing his conviction, William “Rusty” Beamon Jr. argued that after his trial he was found to suffer profound impairment in his executive functioning skills, which affected...
Contractor at heart of Atlanta City Hall bribery scheme made bank withdrawals close to billing city for contracts

Contractor at heart of Atlanta City Hall bribery scheme made bank withdrawals close to billing city for contracts

Elvin “E.R.” Mitchell Jr., the Atlanta contractor at the heart of a million-dollar City Hall bribery scandal, withdrew large sums of money to pay bribes in close proximity to billing the city for emergency contract work his firm was awarded without going through the competitive bidding process, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has found.
Former White House lawyer says Trump’s ethics chief has work to do

Former White House lawyer says Trump’s ethics chief has work to do

President Donald Trump’s new ethics lawyer has a tough job, made tougher by the president’s own example, according to the man who held the same job under President George W. Bush. “If he can’t persuade the president to divest his holdings, then he is in a situation of convincing everybody else they have to divest their holdings or recuse from official matters...
‘Made in USA’ claims by Alpharetta firm were phony, FTC says

‘Made in USA’ claims by Alpharetta firm were phony, FTC says

Alpharetta-based iSpring Water Systems proclaimed that its water filtration systems and parts are “Built in the USA, ” and “Proudly Built in the USA.” But in fact, those claims – published on its own website and in ads on the websites of Amazon, Sears, Home Depot and others – are false, the Federal Trade Commission alleged in a complaint. “In fact, in many...
AJC Watchdog: minefields await Trump’s new ethics chief

AJC Watchdog: minefields await Trump’s new ethics chief

When the White House announced last week President Donald Trump’s selection of Atlanta attorney Stefan Passantino to be his chief ethics lawyer, the choice was met with nods of appreciation by those who know him. “You couldn’t ask for anybody who is a more sincere or honest person,” said attorney Ben Keane, who co-authors Passantino’s “Pay to Play” blog...
FBI: With one email, Brookhaven man made off with $566,000

FBI: With one email, Brookhaven man made off with $566,000

With a single email, a Brookhaven man persuaded county government officials in Kansas to pay him more than half a million dollars that should have gone to a road contractor, federal prosecutors allege in a criminal complaint.
AJC named a finalist for national investigative reporting award

AJC named a finalist for national investigative reporting award

Another national contest has honored The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s series on doctors who sexually abuse their patients. On Monday, the series was chosen as one of six finalists for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting, the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy announced. The center, based at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, honors...
Tom Price, health nominee, belongs to group that calls Medicare ‘evil’

Tom Price, health nominee, belongs to group that calls Medicare ‘evil’

U.S. Rep. Tom Price, nominated as President Donald Trump’s health secretary, belongs to a doctors’ group that considers Medicare “evil” and physicians who accept it “immoral.” That is one of many controversial positions taken by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. The 3,000-member group represents a tiny fraction of American doctors but possesses...
Alpharetta couple defraud company of $1.4 million, sometimes a dollar at a time

Alpharetta couple defraud company of $1.4 million, sometimes a dollar at a time

An Alpharetta couple has admitted helping to defraud office supply company Staples of more than $1.4 million in a complex scheme involving customer loyalty rewards and rebates. John Douglas and a conspirator created more than 1,100 fake customer loyalty accounts using fictitious names, then John created a computer program to claim rewards for purchases they did not make, according to the U.S. Attorney&rsquo...
Update: VA exempts dozens of jobs from hiring freeze

Update: VA exempts dozens of jobs from hiring freeze

Update: VA will exempt almost 75 jobs from hiring freeze. If you’re job hunting, you can cross some Georgia openings off your list for now, because of the hiring freeze President Trump ordered.
Senate committee says no to transparency measure

Senate committee says no to transparency measure

The Rules Committee of the Georgia Senate this week struck down a proposal that would allow a single senator to request a recorded vote on amendments made from the chamber floor. Committee members said Senate Resolution 24, sponsored by Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, would slow down work and allow the minority Democrats to control the agenda by requesting a recorded vote on amendments. Under the...
AJC Watchdog: Ga. Senate rejects more transparency on votes

AJC Watchdog: Ga. Senate rejects more transparency on votes

Every citizen knows the baseline measure of political accountability is the vote. How you vote says something about your values, priorities and perspectives on society. And how our elected officials vote says the same about them, which is why over the years voters have demanded a greater ability to track their leaders’ moves. This week, the Senate Rules Committee declined to shed a little more...
Ominous message meant to silence Atlanta bribery suspect

Ominous message meant to silence Atlanta bribery suspect

A construction contractor with deep connections in the Atlanta government has been accused of paying more than $1 million in bribes to win city contracts. After his expected guilty plea, he could become federal prosecutors’ star witness in a corruption case now gripping City Hall, legal experts say. But 16 months ago, somebody wanted him to keep quiet, because he was already talking to the feds...
Atlanta Mayor Reed: City is cooperating with feds in bribery case

Atlanta Mayor Reed: City is cooperating with feds in bribery case

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed briefly addressed a federal bribery case involving city contracts Thursday, saying the city and its attorneys have been cooperating with federal investigators for months and will “let the facts go wherever they go.” E.R. Mitchell Jr., a prominent city contractor, is expected to plead guilty to bribery and money laundering charges before the end of the month, the...
AJC Watchdog: Atlanta sex-trafficking tour reveals ‘the hell of it’

AJC Watchdog: Atlanta sex-trafficking tour reveals ‘the hell of it’

The red-and-white charter bus slowed to a crawl, pausing by a shadowy parking lot wedged between a budget motel and several down-market strip clubs a block off Fulton Industrial Boulevard. The tour guide, former exotic dancer Kasey McClure, directed riders’ attention to several parked tractor trailers. McClure, founder of 4Sarah, a non-profit that does outreach in the world of adult entertainment...
Atlanta city contracts at center of federal bribery probe

Atlanta city contracts at center of federal bribery probe

Federal prosecutors expect the owner of a prominent construction company to plead guilty to his role in an alleged bribery scheme involving more than $1 million in payments to secure city of Atlanta contracts. The plea deal, expected before the end of the month, jarred City Hall with the revelation that for years, some lucrative city contracts may have been for sale. Legal experts said the deal and...
Strippers’ lawsuits challenging the industry

Strippers’ lawsuits challenging the industry

This week, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News published an explosive story about alleged sexual assaults inside midtown strip club The Cheetah, but the lawsuits filed by dancers against the club are part of a larger trend.
Watchdog: Georgia’s fees on electric cars highest in nation

Watchdog: Georgia’s fees on electric cars highest in nation

Electric vehicle purchases in Georgia have plummeted since the General Assembly revoked a $5,000 income tax credit in 2015 for buying one. Along with revoking the tax credit, lawmakers also slapped a $200 registration fee on the cars to make up for gas tax owners of those vehicles don’t pay. The result has been a 90 percent drop from pre-2015 levels, which some lawmakers...
Price would oversee doctor tracking system he sought to limit

Price would oversee doctor tracking system he sought to limit

You may have never heard of the National Practitioner Data Bank, but there’s a good chance your doctor has. It’s the only national database that tracks professionally disciplined doctors across the country, ensuring that they can’t hop from state-to-state to escape their troubled pasts. That unique role has also put the data bank in the crosshairs of physician advocacy groups...
Canada’s efforts to rein in predatory doctors offer lesson for U.S.

Canada’s efforts to rein in predatory doctors offer lesson for U.S.

Canada’s most populous province has long recognized the gravity of sexual misconduct by physicians. Two decades ago, Ontario passed laws mandating punishment for predatory doctors. But the reforms needed reforming, officials eventually decided. And that led to a long, tortured process that hasn’t left anyone completely satisfied. The complications experienced in Canada may serve as an...
Here’s why electric car sales are plummeting in Georgia

Here’s why electric car sales are plummeting in Georgia

Here’s a fact maybe not generally appreciated by commuters gazing at Atlanta’s smudgy, smoggy skyline: Georgia has the second most electric vehicles in the nation. Here’s another fact: Not for long. Georgia has about 25,000 electric cars on the road, mostly in metro Atlanta and largely funded by what was one of the most generous state tax incentives in the nation — a $5,000...

Is Georgia a haven for abusive debt collectors?

Getting threatened with arrest. Being called a dirt bag. Having your neighbor tell you that debt collectors want you to pay up. Such debt collection tactics are banned under federal law. In spite of the bans, various Georgia firms have been accused of employing such methods. And a new report shows that Georgians being harassed about debts are filing a record number of complaints with the Consumer...
Watchdog: Georgia elections among least competitive in nation

Watchdog: Georgia elections among least competitive in nation

Georgia is one of the least politically competitive states in the nation and money is a big part of it, according to the Institute on Money in State Politics. “Georgia is always at the bottom,” said Pete Quist, chief researcher for the Montana-based institute, which produces regular reports ranking competitiveness among states. According to their data, 81 percent of incumbents for...
Ga. lawmakers return with pockets full of PAC cash

Ga. lawmakers return with pockets full of PAC cash

The Georgia General Assembly convenes next week with virtually the same cast of characters who left the Gold Dome last March. In November all but four incumbents won their race to retain their seat, although “won” is a misleading term. According to the Center for Money on State Politics, Georgia was one of the least competitive states in the nation, with 81 percent of incumbents running...
Georgia bank socking customers with overdraft fees, consumer group says

Georgia bank socking customers with overdraft fees, consumer group says

A Georgia bank was the toughest in the nation when it comes to socking customers with overdraft fees, according to a analysis by a consumer group. Ameris Bank collected the most overdraft/insufficient fund fees per account of any U.S. bank, says the analysis, which is based on federal government data from the first three quarters of 2016. Ameris collected an average of about $176 per account, the...
Some moms accusing doctor of groping say he violated kids, too

Some moms accusing doctor of groping say he violated kids, too

Speaking little English and lacking immigration papers, they were the perfect prey. But when they found out they weren’t alone, one by one the women told police their stories of being sexually degraded by, of all people, their children’s pediatrician. They spoke to Chamblee detectives through translators, accusing Dr. José A. Rios of grabbing them from behind and groping them...
Former lawmakers find new careers as lobbyists

Former lawmakers find new careers as lobbyists

Georgia has a law requiring public officials to wait a year after leaving office before registering as lobbyists, but that doesn’t stop high-level lawmakers from landing plumb jobs in lobbying firms right away . “I support the idea of a one-year cooling off that limits former legislators access to the executive branch and former colleagues,” said former...
Lawmakers jump to lobbying firms despite year-long ban on advocacy

Lawmakers jump to lobbying firms despite year-long ban on advocacy

Heeding calls to “drain the swamp,” President-elect Donald Trump is requiring appointees to his administration to agree to a five-year ban on lobbying, a nod to the public’s distrust of the revolving door that allows former politicians to press their peers for legislative favors. In Georgia, the ban is one year for elected state officials and some appointees. But it doesn’t...
Georgia fraud scheme may have certified dangerous drivers, feds say

Georgia fraud scheme may have certified dangerous drivers, feds say

A fraud scheme operated out of Atlanta may have certified drivers with dangerous health conditions to drive tractor trailers, buses and other large commercial vehicles, officials say. To get commercial driver licenses, drivers are supposed to pass medical fitness tests to determine if they have lung diseases so severe or blood pressure so high that they may not be able to control the vehicles and...

Atlanta fraud scheme may have certified dangerous drivers, feds say

A fraud scheme operated out of Atlanta may have certified drivers with dangerous health conditions to drive tractor trailers, buses and other large commercial vehicles, officials say. State and federal officials hope to find those drivers and re-examine their fitness to be behind the wheel. To get commercial driver licenses, drivers are supposed to pass medical fitness tests to determine if they have...
Concern grows over unregistered lobbyists

Concern grows over unregistered lobbyists

Watchdogs at the State Capitol are concerned that a growing number of people who lobby for or against legislation are avoiding registering with the state and disclosing their activities. “There is nothing wrong with lobbying,” Stefan Ritter, state ethics commission executive director, said. “But the public should be able to look at who is lobbying.” State law is clear: Anyone...
Weak law keeps some Georgia lobbyists hidden

Weak law keeps some Georgia lobbyists hidden

State law requires lobbyists to register and report their spending on public officials, but many believe there is a hidden army of lawyers, business executives, issue advocates, and state government employees who work feverishly to pass, alter or kill bills but do so without registering as lobbyists. Stefan Ritter, executive director of the State Ethics Commission, said lobbyists perform an important...
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