Jason Carter goes Copart on Nathan Deal

Democrat Jason Carter's campaign let loose one of the most scathing attacks yet in the governor's race with a 30-second ad that questions Gov. Nathan Deal's financial turnaround in the four years since his election.

The ad, which begins airing this week, claims the "middle class has fallen further behind" as the governor revived his personal bank account. Deal came into office facing millions in debt, but has paid much of it off while increasing his net worth by about $1 million.

Much of that revival can be linked to his sale of a 2013 sale of a salvage yard he co-owned to Texas-based Copart, a firm that is locked in a dispute with the state over as much as $74 million in back taxes.

Intones the ad: "Nathan Deal: Putting money in his pocket. Not ours."

Deal placed his assets in a blind trust and said he had no knowledge of Copart’s tax woes. The governor has called for the tax dispute to be resolved by an independent judge. But aides to Carter, who has also criticized the sale on the campaign trail, have accused Deal of doing business with a "tax cheat."

It's the sharpest attack yet from Carter's campaign, which has until now mostly relied on positive spots or contrasts pieces to make his case to voters. Carter has been pummeled by attack ads from Deal and the Republican Governors Association, which is pouring resources and treasure into the race.

"Georgians deserve to know how Gov. Deal made millions in office while the average family's income has dropped," said Carter spokesman Bryan Thomas. "You have to ask, who is Gov. Deal looking out for?"

Deal's top aide Chris Riley said in a Twitter post the ad was a mark of Carter's "Chicago style politics." He added: "It's what desperate candidates do when they know they are not going to win, they lie."

Carter, meanwhile, isn't expecting significant help from outside groups like the Democratic Governors Association, which is primarily focused on protecting incumbents.

"We're in a very strong position," Carter said at a campaign stop yesterday. "And we're not waiting for any cavalry to come. We're going to solve the problems here in Georgia."

Here's the transcript of the 30-second spot, called "How?"

"He came into the office with millions in personal debt. Now after four years as governor, Nathan Deal's worth millions.

How did he get rich? Deal sold his salvage yard for over $3 million to a company that owes the state of Georgia $74 million in back taxes.

Nathan Deal made $3 million. The company still owes $74 million. And the middle class has fallen further behind.

Nathan Deal: Putting money in his pocket. Not ours."

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.