Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has sold property that housed a failed family sporting goods business, helping him chip away at personal debt of more than $1 million.
Deal's accountant Jimmy Allen told The Associated Press on Thursday that the governor sold the Habersham County property to a California businessman for $750,000. The sale closed on Monday.
Allen said the buyer paid 20 percent down, or $150,000. The remaining $600,000 is being financed at 6 percent interest over 10 years.
Deal's finances became a flashpoint during last year's race for governor when it emerged that the Republican was on the hook for more than $2 million after his daughter and son-in-law declared bankruptcy. Deal and his wife, Sandra, had co-signed the loan for the Wilder Outdoors property in North Georgia. The sporting goods venture failed in 2009. When Carrie and Clint Wilder declared bankruptcy in 2010, the debt transferred to Deal.
Deal's Democratic opponent, Roy Barnes, argued during last year's heated campaign that Deal could not be trusted to run the state's business when he had trouble managing his own finances.
But Deal pledged he would make good on the money he owed and ruled out declaring bankruptcy. He has since liquidated his retirement savings to pay down the debt, which once stood at $2.4 million. His Gainesville, Ga., home is also on the market for just under $1 million.
The money from the sale will help Allen pay down $1.3 million remaining on the debt. Deal placed most of his assets in a blind trust when he became governor but he kept the Wilder property and his Gainesville home out of the trust since they were for sale. Allen serves as the trustee of Deal's holdings but also negotiated the sale of the Wilder property.
Allen said the buyer is Steve Diamond, a businessman from Santa Maria, Calif.
Diamond has not contributed to Deal, according to state campaign finance records.
"It's a real good situation because it's nobody who donated to the governor and he doesn't have political connections to him," Allen said.
It was not immediately clear what Diamond planned to do with the North Georgia property