Republican politicians, PACs fund Chuck Payne's Georgia senate campaign

Chuck Payne is a candidate for the Georgia state senate District 54.

About three-fourths of all money raised by Republican Chuck Payne for today's state senate race come from current politicians or political action committees, a Times Free Press analysis found.

Payne, who is competing with Debby Peppers in the Georgia State Senate District 54 race today, received about $90,100 for his campaign, according to contribution reports from his team. Of that money, about $66,700 came from current Republican politicians or PACs.

Payne's platform has been centered on keeping conservative values represented in northwest Georgia. District 54 covers Whitfield and Murray Counties, as well as eastern Gordon County and western Pickens County.

His opponent, Peppers, is running as an independent candidate. But she said she voted for Hillary Clinton in the presidential race last year and would caucus with Democrats in Atlanta if elected.

Forty-eight current Georgia politicians - most of them in the state House or Senate - gave Payne a combined $46,970, a Times Free Press analysis showed. His largest contributors were:

State Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga: $4,000

State Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville: $3,800

State Sen. Dean Burke. R-Bainbridge: $2,400

In addition to politicans, Payne received $1,300 from the Murray County Republican Party, $1,400 from the 14th Congressional District of Georgia and $150 from the Paulding County Republican Party.

Payne also received $19,700 from political action committees. The Restore Our Republic PAC and the Georgia Optometric Association PAC gave the most money, each donating $2,500 to Payne's campaign.

Peppers' campaign raised a total of $69,300, according to her disclosures. Her largest donors were herself (a $51,000 loan from herself to her campaign); her father, Smith Foster ($2,600); her brother, Michael Foster ($2,600); and her daughter, Allison Bourg ($1,300).

Payne's final disclosure before today's election came at 10:30 p.m. Monday, when his campaign submitted a year-end report. Last week, Peppers accused Payne for trying to hide the identity of his donors by interpreting the campaign contribution disclosure laws differently than she did.

Both candidates were asked to file three reports: one that covered donations through the end of November, one for the entire year of 2016, and one through Jan. 3. The one for all of 2016 wasn't due until after the one that covered through Jan. 3.

In the latter report, Peppers disclosed all of her donations. Payne, meanwhile, disclosed only donations from Jan. 1-Jan. 3. His campaign spokesman said Payne didn't have to disclose most December donations until Monday, when the end-of-the-year disclosure was due.

Peppers said Payne should have disclosed all of his donors last week. Payne said he followed the law.

Polls in Whitfield, Murray, Gordon and Pickens counties will be open today from 7 a.m.-7 p.m.