BoE chair Terri Smith makes $12.2 million ‘oops’ on campaign form

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If you were to examine the state-required financial disclosure statements filed 10 months apart in 2008 by Fayette County Board of Education Chair Terri Smith, you would discover a difference.

A $12.2 million difference.

Smith chalked the discrepancies up to “paperwork error.”

Smith said the state financial disclosure statement filed in January 2008 was amended in November of that year after she read a column in The Citizen by former Peachtree City Mayor Steve Brown.

“I did the amendment after I read Steve Brown’s column. It was a mistake on my part,” Smith said. “So when I found the errors I amended (the financial disclosure statement). It was purely a paperwork error and the amendments were done to make the corrections. There was never any attempt to deceive.”

At issue were sections II, V and VIII of the financial disclosure statement that had been amended in November.

Pertaining to Section II (fiduciary positions), Smith in the January 2008 filing noted no fiduciary positions in any business, while the November amendment noted her position as corporate secretary for Action Plumbing in Tyrone. As with the January filing, Smith on the November amendment said she received no monetary fee or honorarium.

Smith on Monday said she had not been aware that she had been made secretary of the corporation. That appointment came after the deaths of her husband’s father and sister.

The January 2008 paperwork for section V (spouse’s direct ownership interests in real property) declared no ownership interests by her husband — a developer — with a fair market value of more than $10,000.

The amended statement in November declared ownership and partial ownership in 35 properties in Georgia, Alabama and Florida with a total estimated worth of $20.515 million. Her husband’s share of those interests, with ownership ranging from 33 percent to 100 percent, totaled $12.247 million.

The final portion of the disclosure that was amended in November was section VIII (known business or investment interests of spouse and dependent children). In her January filing, Smith listed seven businesses while on the November filing she listed 14.

“I’m happy to be held responsible for my mistakes,” Smith said Monday, reiterating that the omissions on the January were mistakes. “I don’t work for or with my husband, so I don’t know who owns what land. In hindsight I should have been more careful.”

Smith went further in her comments to The Citizen. Smith said she would be happy to personally answer questions that anyone might have pertaining to the November 2008 amended financial disclosure. Terri Smith can be reached at 770-542-8273.

Smith was first elected in 2000 and her current term ends in 2012.