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Following the money trail

January 11, 2019

Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, is headed into a new two-year term in the Georgia General Assembly with more than $160,000 in his campaign fund.

That’s after a contested election in a four-county district he won with 75.78 percent of the vote. The District 52 senate seat covers all of Floyd and parts of Chattooga, Gordon and Bartow counties.

Elected officials and candidates had until this week to file their year-end financial disclosures without a penalty. The period covers spending and donations between Oct. 26 and Dec. 31 of 2018.

Hufstetler’s Democratic opponent Evan Ross, a political newcomer, raised and spent just over $4,800 during the course of the campaign and closed out his account.

State lawmakers can’t accept contributions while the legislature is in session. The 40-day convocation starts Monday.

Major donors to Hufstetler in the waning months of the year included Independent Doctors of Georgia, $2,000; Capital Health Management for Quality Housing and Home Depot Inc., $1,500 each; and, at $1,000 each, Civil Justice PAC, Dish Network, Georgia Association of Convenience Stores, Georgia Amusement & Music Operators, International Paper and McGuire Woods Federal PAC in Richmond, Virginia.

He took in a total of $14,300 during the reporting period and spent $12,084. His expenses included a $3,900 donation to Republican Brad Raffensperger, who won the secretary of state seat in a December runoff. Republican Lt. Gov.-elect Geoff Duncan got $3,000.

Floyd County’s House delegates maintained five-figure accounts.

Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, reported a balance of $59,740 after taking in $10,850 and spending $8,651 during the year-end period.

Dempsey beat her Democratic challenger, John Burnette II, with 66.54 percent of the vote in state House District 13 covering Rome and part of unincorporated Floyd County.

Burnette, another political newcomer, reported raising and spending $2,928 before terminating his account.

Dempsey got a $1,500 boost from the campaign committee of former Rep. John Meadows of Calhoun, who died in November. A runoff for his seat is scheduled for Feb. 5.

Other major donors include Koch Industries in Wichita, Kansas, and Comcast Corp., at $1,000 each. Contributions of $500 each came from 10 different entities, ranging from Cancer Treatment Centers of America Global Inc. to Georgia Association of Realtors.

In addition to election expenses, Dempsey spent $608 to attend the House budget retreat and $2,100 a month for an apartment she keeps near the state capitol. Without interstate construction, it’s a nearly three-hour round trip between Rome and Atlanta.

Rep. Eddie Lumsden, R-Armuchee, reported $31,187 cash on hand after taking in $3,550 and spending $1,736 during the period. Lumsden was unopposed for re-election to the District 12 seat that covers parts of Floyd and Chattooga counties.

Among the six entities contributing $500 each were Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Allstate Insurance and the Civil Justice PAC for the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association.

Lumsden’s spending included a $500 donation to District 14 candidate Ken Coomer, who fell to Mitchell Scoggins, and $450 for an apartment in Atlanta he shares with another lawmaker.

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