ATLANTA — Gov. Nathan Deal has reduced his debt to $1.3 million after draining his retirement accounts to pay down a loan for his daughter's failed sporting goods venture, the governor's accountant said Thursday.
Details of Deal's finances were made public as he released his personal financial disclosure, which is required by Georgia law. The Republican's troubled finances were a flashpoint during last year's gubernatorial campaign after revelations that he was deeply in debt and had initially failed to disclose millions of dollars in business loans.
Jimmy Allen, who is overseeing Deal's business affairs, told The Associated Press and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Deal has drained more than $700,000 he had in retirement savings to chip away at the loan for Wilder Outdoors, which was owned by Deal's daughter, Carrie, and son-in-law Clint Wilder. The loan, at one point, totaled more than $2 million.
In addition, the governor received $98,000 from his chief of staff, Chris Riley, to settle an outstanding loan for property Riley purchased from Deal in Gainesville in 2003 and 2008. At the time, Deal was in Congress and Riley was his top aide. The $98,000 was used to pay down Deal's debt, Riley said.
Allen said Thursday that Deal's net worth is about $2.8 million, which is about the same as a year ago.
Income includes $80,000 to $90,000 a year from Gainesville Salvage Disposal, a company Deal co-owns with Gainesville businessman Ken Cronan, Allen said.
The auto salvage business and the property it sits on are being held in a blind trust operated by Allen while Deal is governor.
Four pieces of personal property remain outside the trust and in Deal's control while he is in the governor's mansion. Two of those properties — Wilder Outdoors and his Gainesville home — are on the market for about $1.8 million combined.
The Wilder property in Habersham County is under contract to be sold, which could further reduce Deal's debt. The governor's Gainesville home has yet to be sold.
Deal and his wife, Sandra, inherited the Wilder loan after their daughter and son-in-law declared bankruptcy. Nathan and Sandra Deal had co-signed for the loan.
Allen said the debt had been restructured in such a way that the Deals can still pay off the loan even if the properties don't sell.
Thursday's financial disclosure also showed Deal — through Gainesville Salvage and Disposal — had dropped his fractional ownership in an airplane and a helicopter that he'd used last year during the campaign. Deal had listed himself as a member of North Georgia Aviation LLC. He is no longer a member of the group, according to the disclosure.