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Rep. Williams faces questions about Sailor

POSTED: June 11, 2008 5:00 a.m.
A South Georgia lawmaker said Thursday that federal investigators have interviewed him about former House colleague and convicted money launderer Ron Sailor and a controversial bill they supported.
The lawmaker, state Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway, said federal investigators interviewed three or four other state legislators about Sailor, but he refused to identify them or discuss his conversation with the authorities.
"I've talked to them (federal authorities) because everybody who had anything to say to Ron Sailor got talked to," said Williams, chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus.
Williams discussed the Sailor investigation shortly after the State Ethics Commission launched an investigation of Williams' campaign finances.
The ethics panel is investigating whether Williams inflated figures to reimburse himself $4,200 for mileage.
Ethics officials also want to know why he failed to disclose other campaign donations and details of his personal finances, as is required by state law.
Sailor pleaded guilty to money laundering charges and resigned his House seat March 18. Federal prosecutors have said Sailor is cooperating in a wider public corruption probe. They have refused to discuss what the investigation is about.
Patrick Crosby, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, refused to comment Thursday on Williams' remarks.
Williams acknowledged investigators asked him about a 2007 bill to legalize payday lending in Georgia.
Payday loans are advances on a worker's next paycheck that often come with triple-digit interest rates. Williams co-sponsored the bill, and Sailor was a strong supporter. Most Democrats opposed the bill; however, Williams and Sailor were among 11 Democrats who crossed party lines to vote for the bill, which failed.
"Eleven Democrats voted for this thing," Williams said. "I couldn't understand why they (federal investigators) weren't asking about the 70 Republicans who voted for it."
Williams said he was unprepared to discuss the unrelated ethics probe of his campaign finances.
"I have no idea what they are talking about," Williams said.
 

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