• When Do PAC Campaign Contributions Lead To A Conflict of Interest?

    October 11, 2018
    1 Comment

    by Zane Edge.

    Dagmar Sands, the majority landowner and outspoken applicant for Johns Creek rezoning cases RZ-18-006 and RZ-18-007 (State Bridge Road near JCHS), is listed as a paying member of the real estate association that made PAC campaign contributions to two sitting City Council members.

    When Do PAC Campaign Contributions Lead To A Conflict of Interest?

    In the last Johns Creek City Council election cycle this past November/2017, two sitting Council members accepted relatively substantial campaign contributions from the Atlanta REALTORS® Political Action Committee. The two sitting members are Michael Bodker in the amount of $2,600 and Lenny Zaprowski in the amount of $750. This is public information that can be found in Campaign Contribution Disclosure Reports required by the Georgia Campaign Finance Act for all government elections in Georgia.

    The Atlanta REALTORS® Political Action Committee (ARPAC) is the governmental affairs focal point of the Atlanta REALTORS® Association (ARA), also dba Atlanta REALTORS®. The local Atlanta street address for the ARA exactly matches the two campaign contributions mentioned above. The ARA consists of realtor and partner members who pay membership fees and/or make financial contributions. The annual realtor membership fee is $450 according to the ARA website. The ARPAC is the local Atlanta arm of the national RPAC.

    Below are statements on the ARA website that are targeted to ARA members and partners:

    • Your membership in the Atlanta REALTORS® Association makes you part of one of the most powerful and influential grassroots lobbying efforts in the country. Volunteer leaders and staff are constantly working with lawmakers and regulators at all levels of government to represent our industry and protect your best interests as a real estate professional.
    • RPAC provides you with the opportunity to have a collective impact on the election of officials who will shape legislation that affects your livelihood and the way real estate professionals do business.
    • REALTORS® fight and win battles every day that protect your profitability.

    Back to Johns Creek, one of the requirements for submitting a rezoning application request to the city is to complete a Disclosure Report Form asking whether the applicant has made a City Council political campaign contribution aggregating to $250 or more. All of the parties involved in the aforementioned rezoning applications have said NO on this form, including Dagmar Sands. But does this really satisfy the spirit of disclosure and transparency in light of PAC contributions and how these organizations operate?

    In the past, the city attorney for Johns Creek has interrupted zoning meetings to ask City Council members specific conflict-of-interest legal questions when a rezoning applicant disclosed a significant campaign contribution on the Disclosure Report Form. Therefore, when Do PAC Campaign Contributions Lead To A Conflict of Interest?

    Should these legal questions be asked of Mayor Bodker and Councilmember Zaproswki before they vote on RZ-18-006/7?

    Should Mayor Bodker and Councilmember Zaprowski recuse themselves from voting on these rezoning cases?

    Should the City of Johns Creek enact higher standards of disclosure and transparency with regard to campaign contributions and the rezoning process?




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    An informed resident

    Concerned residents should keep the following in mind. Campaign finance disclosure documents report that, for their most recent election, members of Council received total contributions from realtors and developers as follows:

    Jay Lin - $10,900
    Mike Bodker - $7,800
    Steve Broadbent - $1,500
    Lenny Zaprowski - $1,000
    John Bradberry - $0
    Chris Coughlin - $0
    Stephanie Endres - $0

    Jay Lin is a real estate developer himself, and Steve Broadbent is a member of the Fulton County Development Authority, which hands out property tax discounts to developers.

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