With just days before the election, a former Republican gubernatorial candidate filed an ethics complaint against Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, saying he had an affair with a staffer and paid her money to keep it a secret.
Ray Boyd, a businessman who dropped out of the governor's race in June, turned in the complaint to the State Ethics Commission on Friday.
Boyd, who has publicly endorsed Cagle's Democratic opponent Carol Porter, said Cagle paid the female staffer, who was a high-ranking member of Cagle's campaign staff from 2006-2008, about $180,000 in campaign funds.
Boyd filed the complaint as a member of We the People Advocate LLC. In four sentences, Boyd said Cagle used campaign funds to pay the woman "in excess of the market rate for campaigning activities because Cagle has been having an affair" with her, which "has included at least one sexual encounter in his office at the capital." Boyd said the $25,000 bonus after the campaign is "far above the prevailing market rate for the campaign activities she performed."
Boyd's complaint offers no proof of the affair, which allegedly occurred around the time Cagle, then a state senator, was elected lieutenant governor in 2006.
"This is a desperate attempt to help (Democratic opponent Carol) Porter make up her percent in the polls. There's no other motive 96 hours before Election Day," said Ryan Cassin, Cagle's campaign manager. "He's approached a female (who Boyd think is a witness) and tried to bribe her into lying. She's undergoing chemotherapy, and they've offered to pay for her medical bills. They've tried to get her to meet with Porter for woman-to-woman talking. It's just insulting, and they've been trying to go down this road for more than a week now."
The complaint attaches documentation of the payments from April 2006 to June 2008, with 70 payments that include 48 bi-monthly payroll payments of around $2,000. About 14 are for campaign reimbursements for food, mileage and expenses, and six others include campaign commission payments of about $5,900 in July 2006, more than $5,500 in October 2006, about $4,000 in November 2006, about $1,300 in April 2007, about $5,000 in September 2007, more than $17,000 in August 2008 and the $25,000 bonus in November 2006.
"This was her payroll over three years of records, but there's a notion that it was a disproportionate amount," Cassin said. "Then he points out the $25,000 bonus for the campaign when several consultants earned $50,000 or $60,000 in bonuses,- nearly double or more of what she got."
Boyd declined to explain Friday night what he considered a "fair market" price for the campaign work. He said he filed the complaint Friday, four days before Election Day, because it was the first time he was able to gather the information.
"It's unfortunate timing that it worked out now. I wish I had more time. I admit it looks a little funny because it's the Friday before the election," he said. "Since I was kicked off the primary ballot, I've been drafting an ethics bill because we need transparency in government and just finished it up this week. I have to sleep occasionally and have to take a break occasionally, so I just now got it done."
After the complaint was revealed Friday evening, the campaigns released a flurry of statements.
"Mr. Boyd's allegation is absolutely false and deliberately hurtful to the lieutenant governor, his family and the staff who work for him. Carol Porter obviously wants someone else to spread lies on her behalf, and her willingness to spoon feed poison to an attention-seeking millionaire is despicable and pathetic," Cassin said. "We expect Carol's dirty tricks team to continue these kind of attacks over the next several days in a desperate attempt to erase a 20 point deficit."
Porter's campaign then denied connection to Boyd's actions.
"Casey Cagle's attacks are a false and desperate attempt to deflect from the situation. We had no knowledge of Mr. Boyd's ethics complaint until called by Lori Geary from WSB-TV. Mr. Boyd seems to be fed up with the corruption and as (University of Georgia political science professor) Charles Bullock has coined it, 'the fraternity boy antics' under the gold dome," Porter said in a statement. "The whole experience dealing with all of these allegations has been a distraction during my entire campaign. Nearly every reporter has asked me about these allegations since I entered the race. I have refused to publicly speak out because I can beat him on the issues."
The former female staffer also issued a statement, denying Boyd's complaint.
"Mr. Boyd's accusations are appalling and insulting. There is no truth to any of this whatsoever. As a private citizen, I'm shocked that he and others would bring me into their failing and desperate campaign."
In the complaint, Boyd listed five people who "have knowledge of the aforementioned allegations." One is a Capitol secretary, whom he alleges walked in on Cagle and the woman engaged in a sexual act in his office. Another is her attorney, state Sen. Seth Harp, who issued a statement on her behalf.
"The author of this ethics complaint, Ray Boyd, has harassed me and my family at home and at work over the past several weeks in an effort to coerce me into lying. Mr. Boyd, working directly with the Carol Porter campaign, has offered both high-paying jobs and full payment of my ongoing chemotherapy expenses in exchange for false testimony about events that never happened and I have denied dozens of times," the statement read.
Boyd burst onto the state political scenic in April when he put $2 million of his own money into a campaign account and said he would run for governor as a Republican. After refusing to sign the Republican loyalty oath, party leaders didn't allow him on the primary ballot. Boyd then began collecting thousands of signatures to qualify for the election as an independent but dropped from the gubernatorial race in June when it became too much of a challenge.
Boyd denied the involvement with Porter on contacting the witness but did say he talked to her on the phone.
"She didn't give me anything that I could call a smoking gun, but I could tell. The last thing she needs is the stress of something like this hanging over her head," Boyd said. "I'm tickled to death that the Cagle campaign is mad. I knew that if I could get this out there, they would be tripping over themselves to lie about it."