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A Deficit of Decency, indeed

Zell's $80,000 going-away present

Former governor and U.S. Sen. Zell Miller apparently left the Governor's Mansion with a handsome going-away present. The born-again Bush booster grabbed up more than $60,000 from the Governor's Mansion fund allowance, and $20,000 in unused leave when he left office in 1999. Experts say he wasn't entitled to all that money.

Miller, who spun his Democrat-bashing into a new book, Deficit of Decency (Stroud & Hall), got nailed for the alleged misdeeds last week by WSB/Channel 2 investigative reporter Dale Cardwell.

Every living ex-governor and current Gov. Sonny Perdue told Cardwell they wouldn't have kept the money from the Governor's Mansion fund, an account provided by Georgia taxpayers for operation of the West Paces Ferry home. They said they would have left the balance for their successor.

Miller sent Cardwell a statement saying, "Upon taking office, we were told that the Mansion fund was ours to use as we chose: use it up or live cheaply and pay personal taxes on what was left."

A Common Cause spokesman told Cardwell that anyone who took such funds should repay the state.

Cardwell also reported that Miller took $20,000 for leave that state law says no governor can accrue. Georgia's constitutional officers, including the governor, cannot cash in their unused leave. But Miller did.

Miller repaid the unused leave to the state after Cardwell started asking questions. As for repaying the mansion fund, Miller's lawyer told the reporter, "If the state tells us there was a mistake, Senator Miller is going to do whatever it takes to correct the mistake."??



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