Monday, July 11, 2005

"Decent" Zell Miller, Turncoat Democrat, Stole from Taxpayers

From Bill Shipp's column. Kudos to WSB-TV's Dale Cardwell for uncovering this:

Miller has been caught with his hand in the taxpayers' cookie jar - sort of.

When this nationally famous figure left the governor's office in 1999, he pocketed more than $60,000 in taxpayer funds earmarked for entertainment and other expenses at the Governor's Mansion, WSB-TV investigative reporter Dale Cardwell revealed last week.

Miller also picked up a check for more than $20,000 for "unused leave"-a sum to which he was not entitled as a constitutional officer, Cardwell also reported.

At first blush, such stuff may sound shockingly sleazy. Bear with us. Miller has an explanation, contained in prepared statements issued through his attorney.

In essence, Miller says that he was technically eligible to take the mansion money as his own because no one said he could not. "When I retired from state government, I received only what I was advised was legal, ethical and traditional," his statement read, citing an attorney general's official opinion from 1969.

Never mind that every other living governor from Jimmy Carter to Sonny Perdue told reporter Caldwell that they did not consider the mansion money theirs-and that they would not have taken it. The cash was meant for use at the mansion, not for lining the occupants' pockets, they said.

Common Cause and other good-government sorts denounced Miller.

As for taking the "unused leave" money, Miller - who served as a constitutional officer from 1975 to 1999 - said he was unaware of the rules barring the state's highest elected officials from cashing out their leave. He paid the money back - six years later - when the Atlanta TV guy started asking questions.


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