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Deal has $2.85M in business loan debt
Candidates loans were left off disclosure form
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Elections Guide

Coming this weekend

Saturday, the Georgia Newspaper Partnership, of which The Times is a member, releases a poll showing who’s ahead in the races for governor and lieutenant governor. On Sunday, a look at the key issues for voters in statewide races.

Shortly after admitting to serious financial trouble, gubernatorial candidate Nathan Deal acknowledged that two active loans for his Gainesville Salvage and Disposal business on Athens Highway were left out of a financial disclosure form.

The Associated Press reported that the Republican from Gainesville and his business partner, Ken Cronan, owe a combined $2.85 million on loans from two local banks in 2009.

The loans did not appear on the financial disclosure Deal filed with the State Ethics Commission when he announced he was running for governor.

Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said the loans were listed on Deal’s federal disclosure form and were accidentally left off the state form.

“That was a mistake. It’s been amended, it’s been corrected and it’s up to date now,” Robinson said.

Robinson said the business loans for Gainesville Salvage and Disposal are completely unrelated to his personal finances.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that Deal owes roughly $2 million on loans that come due in February.

“This is proactive business expansion on the part of the company,” Robinson said. “The company’s assets are greater than the value of the loans. The loans are for business expansion, which creates jobs.”

One loan for $2.5 million is from Branch Banking and Trust Co. in Gainesville. A $350,000 loan is from Verity Bank in Winder. Robinson said the loans were taken out to fund construction of a new building on the Gainesville Salvage and Disposal property.

“It’s not bad debt. There’s a huge difference here,” Robinson said.

In 2005, Deal and his wife, Sandra, invested the money in Wilder Outdoors, an outdoor sporting goods store started by their daughter and son-in-law, Carrie and Clint Wilder.

The Deals also signed on as guarantors for a series of business loans for the store as the business struggled in subsequent years.

In 2009, Wilder Outdoors closed and the Wilders filed for bankruptcy shortly afterward, leaving the Deals with the debt of the failed business.

Deal said he is prepared to pay the roughly $2 million he owes, making it clear that declaring bankruptcy is not an option.

Robinson said Deal is optimistic that the sale of the Wilder Outdoors commercial property near Alto, valued at $700,000, and the sale of his Gainesville home, listed for sale at $985,000, will go a long way toward covering the obligations.

Deal’s Democratic opponent, Roy Barnes, has for months pressured Deal to release his personal tax information, but his campaign has declined to comment on the recent reports.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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