John Nathan Deal is a native of Millen, Georgia. He earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Mercer University in Macon, before joining the US Army. He served as a Democratic Georgia state senator from 1981 to 1993, before being elected to the US House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1992.
After the landslide Republican victory in 1994, Deal says that he became uncomfortable being the most conservative Democrat in the Georgia congressional delegation. In April 1995, four months after beginning his second congressional term, Deal changed parties and became a Republican. He served continually as a congressional Republican until he resigned to run for governor. Deal announced his resignation on March 1, 2010, but delayed leaving office in order to vote against President Obama’s health care reform bill.
At the time of his resignation, Deal was under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for using his influence as a congressman to preserve a no-bid contract for his salvage business. Deal was accused of using his congressional email account to discuss personal business with officials of the Georgia senate and Department of Revenue. Deal was concerned with changes that Revenue Commissioner Bart Graham had proposed to a program that earned Deal’s company an estimated $300,000 per year. Deal’s company had worked with the state for twenty years (http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/Scandal-surrounding-Rep-Nathan-Deal-R-Ga-79319837.html ). After his resignation, the Office of Congressional Ethics released a report that said Deal may have exceeded congressional limits on outside income and used his US House office and staff to preserve a private stream of money coming from a no bid state contract (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0310/35154.html).
Deal has placed his complete side of the story on his campaign website. You can read his version of events here: http://www.dealforgovernor.com/the_real_story.php.
Deal has said that the deal was not improper and that he had reported it each year to the House Ethics Committee. Deal also says that the report is incomplete because neither Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle nor Revenue Commissioner Graham cooperated with investigators. Cagle refused to cooperate and Graham said that he could not provide the information requested by the investigators without a subpoena. Since Deal resigned, the matter never went to the next level, which would have been the House’s Committee on Standards. Deal is also facing a state ethics investigation over the use of campaign funds to pay some of his legal fees from his federal ethics investigation (http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/nation/ethics-commission-investigating-deal-complaint-95978069.html).
More recently, Deal also came under fire for failing to report $2.85 million in business loans on state election disclosure forms (http://www.ajc.com/news/deal-failed-to-disclose-615412.html). He also took out loans to invest in his daughter’s sporting goods business, which went out of business in 2009. Deal and his wife owe $2.3 million, which is greater than the current market value of their home. There is a possibility that Deal will have to file bankruptcy, but he has vowed to avoid that step.
Here are some of Deal’s positions on prominent issues:
Life: Deal is endorsed by Georgia Right to Life. He is rated 100% by National Right to Life and 0% by NARAL. He also earned a 93% rating from the Christian Coalition.
Gun Rights: Deal has an A rating from the National Rifle Association.
Jobs and Economy: Deal is rated 93% by the US Chamber of Commerce. This indicates a pro-business voting record. His rating by the AFL-CIO was 20%. He would like to fuel growth in biotech and medical services through private lending and state capital investment company. He would also like the UGA’s Small Business Development Centers to offer technical and advisory assistance to complement venture capital investment. Deal wants to eliminate wasteful items from the budget and focus on education, transportation, public safety, and healthcare.
Education: Deal is rated 17% by the NEA. This indicates a voting record against the education establishment. He would develop charter schools to focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and fund universal pre-k and the Hope Scholarship. Deal would like to give local school districts more flexibility, while holding them accountable for results. He wants to eliminate forced teacher furloughs, while giving teachers the opportunity to help solve the education crisis. He would like students to be able to move on when ready, rather than having allotted times that must be fulfilled.
Taxes: Deal was rated 69% by the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), which they consider a satisfactory rating. He would like to cut Georgia’s corporate tax rate, the corporate “net worth” tax, and allow exemptions for business inventory. He would also exempt businesses from taxes in their first ten years. For individuals, Deal would enact a 6% flat tax, exempting those who earn $7,000 or less. He would also eliminate the marriage penalty. Deal supports the federal Fair Tax and is endorsed by John Linder. Finally, Deal has signed the Americans for Tax Reform’s pledge to not raise taxes.
Immigration: Deal has said that he would work to pass legislation in Georgia similar to Arizona’s immigration law. On the federal level, Deal would like to close the “anchor baby” loophole, in which children born in the US are automatically granted citizenship, even if they are here illegally.
Transportation: Deal supports a regional approach that allows communities to prioritize and fund their own transportation needs. He wants to find alternative east-west routes to relieve congestion in Atlanta.
Healthcare: Deal supports medical malpractice reform and will continue to oppose Obamacare.
My Two Cents: Deal may be a crook… then again he might not be. It’s hard to tell what the truth is with both sides so willing to lie and misrepresent the issues. At the very least, he is guilty of bad judgment and not paying close enough attention to his filings. That is not a good thing in a candidate for governor.
Regardless, Deal’s platform most closely resembles my own beliefs. He proclaims a belief in small government, individual liberty, free markets, and low taxes. What’s more, his congressional voting record backs up his claims.
His website contains the most comprehensive plans for his administration of any of the three gubernatorial candidates. Most of his ideas are good ones that reflect conservative principles. Beyond the attack ads, this election is going to be about whether Georgians will have free markets or centralized planning and government stimulus on the state level.
Corruption in elected officials is never good. Deal was not my first (or second choice) in the primary. Nevertheless, corrupt officials can still be effective administrators. I don’t like voting for someone whose record is as questionable as Deal, but given the alternative, I think that he is the best choice for the state.