Back in June, then Republican candidate Darwin Carter of Alma, filed an ethics complaint against CEO/Lobbyist Gary Black for failure to disclose the use of his office as CEO/Lobbyist for the Georgia Agribusiness Council (not-for-profit) to run for Commissioner of Agriculture. Additionally, Carter charged that Black's lobbying firm, Georgia Agribusiness Council (GAC) is a nonprofit 501c6 corporation and according to the IRS, should pay taxes on their extensive partisan political work.
Carter said, "They have failed to do so…they are breaking the law. Besides filing this complaint, I have also notified the IRS of Black's violations."
Carter stated that he has spent the last six months filing letters of complaint to the governor, secretary of state, attorney general, and the state inspector general to no avail. Carter spoke with the governor’s attorney just to learn that ethics is not one of their top issues. Out of frustration, Carter filed an official complaint with the State Ethics Commission.
“Gary Black has violated the state ethics laws and no one is listening. I have tried to work within the family to resolve this matter, but now I feel I must take it public to expose what could happen to the citizens of Georgia. Gary Black has been the chief lobbyist for the last 20 years for big agricultural business and now he wants you to elect him to regulate the same big corporations that have been employing him as their lobbyist.
Gary Black, a registered lobbyist for Georgia Agribusiness Council for the last 20 years, ran unsuccessfully against legendary Democrat Ag Commissioner Tommy Irvin in 2006. Democrat Irvin beat Black by over 330,000 votes and is retiring after 48 years of public service.
Carter stated that a similar complaint was filed against Black by then Republican candidate, Deanne Strickland in 2006 which was never resolved by the State Ethics Commission. Governor Perdue appointee and candidate Brian Kemp, current Secretary of State was also a candidate in the 2006 Republican primary against Black.
The chairman of Black's non-compliant lobbying firm is David Skinner. He is seriously conflicted because he also serves as the highly paid executive director of the Georgia Development Authority.
“Governor Perdue has signed legislation and has issued executive orders to assure us that the work of our government will be transparent. His words on ethics have been pointed and frankly, inspiring. But with that said, what I don't accept is how a state employee is allowed to serve as chairman of Black's lobbying firm, a lobbying firm I might add, that is in total violation of the IRS tax code,” Carter said.
“This is a dirty little secret that the power brokers do not want the public to know about but they will not keep me silent. I served our greatest American president, Ronald Reagan in the United States Department of Agriculture and worked hand and hand with him and the first president Bush promoting agriculture worldwide. The public needs to know that Gary Black is just a “yes man” to the big agribusiness industries that want to run this regulatory office. Commissioner Irvin got it right in 2006…electing Gary Black would be like putting the fox in charge of the hen house or as a local farmer told me, allowing British Petroleum to be in charge of water purification in the Gulf,” Carter said.
“What is about to happen to Georgia’s food safety, by electing lobbyist Gary Black as Commissioner of Agriculture will make the peanut butter contamination incident look like child’s play…paid big corporate lobbyists have no place running our regulatory agencies and are part of our country’s problems today. Someone must let the public know of the big sham being played upon them.”