Airport lobbyists gave to Knight’s campaign

State rep’s filings with ethics commission show link

— Clayton County government and schools could lose a collective $12.6 million in ad valorem tax revenue from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. It may be unrelated, but the state representative whose bill may eliminate that revenue received a $10 lunch and nearly $5,000 in campaign contributions from lobbyists connected to airport concessionaires.

Filings with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission do not establish a direct link between House Bill 399’s author, state Rep. David Knight (R-Griffin), and the concessionaires. But, as the General Assembly’s 2013 legislative term nears its Thursday conclusion, the filings do indicate an indirect link via companies that donated to Knight’s last re-election campaign and lobbyists who announced they were representing a “Consortium of Atlanta Airport Concessionaires” Feb. 21.

Two days after HB 399 was first introduced, lobbyists John Bozeman, Arthur “Skin” Edge, John “Trip” Martin and Boyd Pettit filed paperwork to announce they would represent the “Consortium of Atlanta Airport Concessionaires.” They work for the Georgia Link Public Affairs Group in Atlanta.

The closest thing to a direct tie between Knight and the concessionaires might be a lunch.

Lobbyist records show Knight had been in contact with Bozeman before HB 399 was introduced. On Feb. 2 — 19 days before he registered as the concessionaires’ lobbyist — Bozeman bought Knight a $10.20 lunch, according to one lobbyist expenditure report filed with the ethics commission.

It shows the lunch was on behalf of Georgia Link Public Affairs Group.

Neither Knight or Bozeman could be reached for comment Tuesday.

The report does not explain where the lunch took place or what topics were discussed during the meeting. Lobbyist reports only show expenses made toward state officials, but offers no insight into what happened during the meetings. It also doesn’t show whether representatives and lobbyists have conversations in the halls of the Capitol, where no expenses are likely incurred.

But, Knight’s link to the concessionaires also exists within his campaign finance reports and then goes back to Bozeman, Edge, Martin and Pettit who serve as the tie to the airport vendors.

Eight companies and one trade association listed in Knight’s campaign reports have either retained at one time or still retain at least one of the four lobbyists. However, many of them retained all four lobbyists. They are among long lists of companies and groups which retain the four lobbyists to champion their interests at the Capitol.

However, those companies and the trade association are different from the group’s other clients. That’s because they collectively contributed a total of $4,900 to Knight’s most recent re-election campaign between 2011 and 2012.

The companies include Publix Super Market, Diageo, MAG Mutual Insurance, Swisher International, Turner Broadcasting, UPS, Koch Companies and Tenet Healthcare. The Outdoor Advertising Association of Georgia is also in that group.