White House refuses to clarify Deal remark

Nathan Deal said Thursday that he doesn't know if the White House plans to become involved in his bid to be the next governor of Georgia.

Deal, the Republican gubernatorial nominee, said he just heard about comments made the day before by President Barack Obama's press secretary, Robert Gibbs, suggesting Deal could have more ethics trouble ahead.

Meanwhile, the White House refused to clarify what Gibbs meant, with a spokesman saying there would be no further comment.

But during a brief news conference with Gov. Sonny Perdue in the governor's office, Deal said he did not know if Gibbs was sending a message.

"I guess we'll have to wait and see," Deal said. "It's very unusual for that happen. Certainly, there's no question they would prefer I not be the next governor of Georgia, but they don't get a say so."

A reporter on Wednesday asked Gibbs about Deal's victory in the GOP runoff. Specifically, the reporter, who is not identified in transcripts of the briefing, asked Gibbs about Deal's position as one who has questioned Obama's citizenship.

In response, Gibbs said Deal's stance on the president's background "might be some of the least of (Deal's) concerns -- in terms of some ethics investigations that are currently ongoing."

Deal was investigated by a congressional ethics panel after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last year that he and an aide personally intervened with state officials to protect a state program that earned his company $300,000 a year. The Office of Congressional Ethics issued a report this year saying it appears Deal violated several House and federal ethics rules.

Because Deal resigned his congressional seat in March, his case was never considered by congressional authorities. The AJC also reported last month that a federal grand jury had subpoenaed a state official and ordered him to appear and turn over records in relation to Deal's business arrangement with the state.

Deal's attorney said he spoke with the U.S. attorney's office and was told Deal is not currently a target of an investigation. The U.S. attorney's office and the FBI, which was involved in the investigation, have refused to comment.