But Sen. Carter, who called the findings “disturbing,” said, “Just because it has been done that way in the past doesn’t make it right.”
Carter said Deal’s first act as governor was to appoint his campaign chairman, Philip Wilheit, a major donor, to the Board of Regents.
“What it goes to show is what comes first to the governor is his campaign donors, his wealthy friends, and what comes second or last is average Georgians,” Carter said.
Carter said donations shouldn’t be a primary reason someone is appointed to a key board. And he promised, if elected, to disclose whether appointees are donors, when appointments are made.
Brian Robinson, spokesman for the Deal campaign, noted that Carter didn’t pledge not to appoint big donors.
“He’s going to do exactly what Gov. Deal has done, what President Obama has done, what President Carter did and what every governor in the state has done,” Robinson said. “And that is to appoint people who agree with your view on how government should run, people who want to carry out your vision for the state so much that they want to donate to your campaign to keep you in office and donate their time to the state.”
Robinson also pointed out that Carter, as a state senator, voted to approve Deal’s board appointments in 2011, 2012 and 2013. He voted against them in 2014 when he was running for governor.
Robinson compared that to Carter’s stance on education: the Democrat has attacked Deal for pushing state budgets that included billions of dollars in austerity cuts to K12 education. But Carter voted for budgets that included those cuts until this year.
“That is the basest and silliest of politics,” Robinson said.
Carter said it is the governor’s prerogative to make board appointments, and he expects the Senate to approve them. He didn’t explain why he voted against them in 2014.