Morgan, who is a lobbyist for American Federation for Children, a political action committee advocating school choice, is also a Democrat who lives in Austell.
In his complaint with the state ethics commission, Wilkerson points to a March 24 ad Morgan ran in the Journal that attacks Wilkerson for voting against House Resolution 1162, which would give the state power to create charter schools over the objection of local school boards.
Morgan’s PAC advocated in favor of the amendment, which voters will decide upon in November. When Wilkerson voted against it, Morgan’s PAC ran an ad claiming Wilkerson had turned his back on children and voted against restoring charter schools.
“Mr. Morgan has not properly reported this expenditure for the full page advertisement,” Wilkerson writes in the complaint, signed on Monday. “His lobbyist report covering this period was filed late, excluded the $2,500 plus cost of the ad, and has resulted in another late filing penalty for Mr. Morgan.”
Wilkerson goes on to report that Morgan already has ethics fines of more than $2,000 outstanding. Moreover, his employer, American Federation for Children, has not filed a disclosure report for the period ending March 31, he said.
“Mr. Morgan is in violation of reporting lobbying expenditures intended to both influence pending legislation as well as the election of a candidate,” Wilkerson writes.
An official with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission confirmed that she had received the complaint on Friday and said it was under investigation.
Morgan said he relies on his employer’s attorneys to determine the proper way to report expenditures.
“That’s something we leave in the hands our attorneys, and I’m going to leave it at that level, and I’m going to continue to do my job when I’m with American Federation for Children,” Morgan said.
Wilkerson said the Legislature doesn’t provide the Campaign Finance Commission with sufficient money to enforce fines.
“The ethics laws are not the most stringent here,” Wilkerson said. “There are fines, but they’re not necessarily enforced. What I am looking for is not necessarily to fine. What I’m looking for is just transparency. I am looking for the public to know that he is lobbying on behalf of an interest, which is fine, but he is running ads and attacking people when they vote their conscience. If you’re going to do these lobbying-type activities, and he has every right to do that, you just have to make sure that you disclose those so that the public fully understands who is advocating on behalf of a position.”