Kingston leaves fundraising blunder in the past

Credit: Chris Joyner

Credit: Chris Joyner

The Georgia Republican Party has a new chief fundraiser in former U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, something hard to fathom a year ago when Kingston was making headlines for raking in donations from questionable sources at a lavish fundraiser.

For those who don't remember, here's a quick version:

In late 2013, when Kingston was still a top contender for Georgia's open U.S. Senate seat, the longtime congressman attended a big fundraiser at Chateau Elan, taking in at least $80,000 in contributions. The hitch? The donations came from people associated with Khalid Satary, a Gwinnett County entrepreneur and Palestinian national.

Satary also happens to be a convicted felon who did time in prison for orchestrating a massive CD piracy business. Satary is under a federal deportation order, and official sources said the only thing that keeps him in the United States is that no country in his home region will accept him.

The donations came from business associates, family members and friends of Satary. A confidential source told the AJC that Satary wanted a close relationship with Georgia's next senator in hopes of lifting the deportation order.

For his part, Kingston said he was unaware of Satary's past and said he did not really know the contributors. His campaign returned the money, but David Perdue, who ultimately won the seat, hammered Kingston over the fundraiser in a televised debate.

(For more, you can read the original story here.)

Credit: Chris Joyner

Credit: Chris Joyner

Flash forward and the Georgia GOP is hailing Kingston's ability to raise cash.

"Kingston brings a wealth of fundraising experience, a Rolodex like few others, and a well-known penchant for frugality," according to a party press release.

The Chateau Elan fundraiser attracted the interest of federal investigators, but that interest quickly waned after Kingston lost in a primary runoff with Perdue. There was no indication that Kingston knew Satary, although after the fundraiser, the campaign paid attention to his family and business associates.

As of today, Kingston is chairman of the Georgia Republican Party Foundation, the fundraising arm of the state party. It's a volunteer position.

Earlier this year, Kingston joined Washington lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs.

Gov. Nathan Deal said Kingston will help the party with its two major goals: Re-electing Sen. Johnny Isakson and supporting the eventual Republican presidential candidate.

"With my longtime friend and colleague Jack Kingston chairing the Georgia Republican Party Foundation, we have the right leader in place to ensure we have the resources we need to win," Deal said in a statement.

The Georgia Republican Party raised nearly $8 million last year, about twice what the Democratic Party raised.