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Has Hot Senate Race Led To Exaggerated Claims And Embellished Credentials?
When Dan Moody of Johns Creek said he would not run for re-election to the state Senate in District 56 this year, it touched off a hot political scramble for the coveted seat in the legislature. It now appears that one of the candidates, John Albers of Roswell, may have tried too hard to win the seat by. . .
By John Fredericks / Staff and D. Jefferson Bean / Staff
When Dan Moody of Johns Creek said he would not run for re-election to the state Senate in District 56 this year, it touched off a hot political scramble for the coveted seat in the legislature.
It now appears that one of the candidates, John Albers of Roswell, may have tried too hard to win the seat by embellishing his resume and making exaggerated claims.
On his Facebook page, Albers lists "University of Louisville '90" under "Education," and in an interview with Appen Newspapers in May, Albers claimed to be a graduate of Louisville, according to the newspaper.
D-56 Republican State Senate Candidate may have embellished his credentials.
Albers gives his birth date as August 18, 1972, which means he would have been 17 years old at the time of his graduation.
University of Louisville spokesman Mark Hebert confirmed that Albers attended UL from 1990-92, but said he did not graduate.
Colin Braithwaite, a former business partner of Albers from the national consulting firm Dalco, told The Beacon that Albers routinely misrepresented his academic credentials to potential clients during presentations. Braithwaite said he worried that the embellishments could be used as a basis to void contracts.
"Albers represented a lot of half-truths," Braithwaite said.
Braithwaite and his two remaining partners in Dalco filed a civil suit against Albers in Fulton Superior Court, alleging breach of fiduciary duty, computer and trade secret theft, and defamation. Albers counter-sued, alleging breach of fiduciary duty and conspiracy to defraud. The suits were settled out of court.
Albers and Braithwaite’s partners declined to be interviewed for this story. Braithwaite said he was willing to go on the record because "it’s the right thing to do."
"The voters of North Fulton County deserve to know the truth about John Albers before they make their decision," Braithwaite said. "If they vote for Albers, they should know they are voting for a wolf in sheep's clothing clothing.”
Albers left Dalco in 2007 and went to work for Ronald Blue and Company, which had a $15,000-a-month contract with Dalco that ran through 2008, Braithwaite said. Ronald Blue withdrew from the agreement with Dalco after Albers joined them in 2007, and Dalco maintained in its suit that Albers improperly "induced" Ronald Blue to cut ties with Dalco.
"When Albers left the company, we could not locate a copy of the [Ronald Blue] contract, so we could not enforce it for their final year," Braithwaite said. "We continued to bill them, but they disputed the terms of the contract and we could never locate it."
Joe Solana, COO and president of General Solutions Associates, worked with Albers when Dalco and his Alpharetta telecom consulting firm formed a strategic partnership. That relationship ended poorly. Said Solana: "I would not be in business with him [Albers] again."
WORK CLAIM DISPUTED
|AT&T Senior Executive Dick Anderson says he has never heard of Albers.|
During a Chattahoochee Republican Women's Club candidate forum in Roswell in March, Albers said he once ran a $5 billion division of AT&T. Seated in the audience was Dick Anderson of Roswell, who happened to have been the Group President of Global Business Services of AT&T. Anderson said he never heard of Albers, in either AT&T or in the community, and doubted the validity of his claims.
"I have talked to several present and former executives of AT&T, BellSouth, Nortel and other telecom companies, and they had not heard of John Albers either," Anderson said.
When questioned about his AT&T claim at a subsequent candidates' debate sponsored by The Beacon in April, Albers back-pedaled and said he had been responsible for "large parts of a $5 billion organization." He noted that AT&T is a huge conglomerate and that it‘s no surprise he and Anderson were not acquainted.
Anderson scoffed at the notion. He said he would have known any executive in Atlanta running a $5 billion telecom division or business.
"I have been in the telecom industry for close to 30 years and in Atlanta since 1993, and know all of the telecom executives -- and John Albers is not one of them," Anderson said. "If somebody in my organization ran a $5 billion dollar division, I'd know the person.”
Albers later said he had a high-level internet technology managerial responsibilities for Lucent Technologies, a spin-off of AT&T.
"Being responsible for setting up a division's intranet and email system is a far cry from having profit and loss accountability for a $5 billion division, which his statement [at the forum] implied," Anderson said.
ALBERS' EMAIL BLAST: "NO FORUM"
A local conservative organization called "Alpharetta 912 Project" sponsored a District 56 state senate candidates' forum on June 5. Albers, along with GOP primary rivals Brandon Beach and David Belle Isle were invited on May 18. Beach and Belle Isle accepted, but Albers declined the invitation.
On the afternoon before the forum, the Albers campaign sent out an email blast to supporters that implied the event was canceled. The headline of the email read: "NO FORUM JUNE 5TH" The body of the email added: "A candidate forum was scheduled with very short notice this Saturday … However, I have commitments to other voters throughout the district.”
Forum organizer Lori Wexler said Albers' explanation was misleading. She said the invitations went out to each candidate in mid-May, nearly three weeks in advance of the gathering.
Wexler said she had to send a subsequent email-blast, saying, "our forum is NOT CANCELED."
|Conservative Activist Lori Wexler was forced to clarify a misleading John Albers email.|
"I wanted to clarify to recipients of Mr. Albers communication that even though he stated 'no forum', the forum was not canceled."
Wexler says organization members who got Albers' email and thought the event was scrapped had contacted her. "Albers' email was confusing and it made me do damage control to explain to potential attendees that the forum was still on," Wexler said.
HOW MANY VOLUNTEERS?
Albers has for months said his campaign has 600 active volunteers with a "goal of 1,000," but there is very little evidence of that.
After a Roswell event last month, the Albers campaign sent out an email claiming they had over 100 active volunteers at "Alive at Five." This newspaper had a reporter at the event who said they had less then 20, mostly adolescents. When questioned, Albers' campaign operative Wes McCall said they were actually "supporters" and not "volunteers" but they would soon become volunteers.
At the outset of his campaign, Albers said he would finance the bulk of his own candidacy with about $200,000 of his own money. Financial disclosures show he has put in about $92,000 to date -- and he has twice withdrawn around half the money after he deposits it in his campaign account, and then re-deposits the money again before the next disclosure deadline, giving the appearance on paper of a bigger campaign war chest. When questioned about it, Albers said he withdraws the money to invest it at a higher return, and then puts it back in before filing deadline. He says it's a common campaign practice.
During The Beacon debate, Albers was asked about a statement he made to this newspaper for an article published July 11, 2009. In the piece, Albers said his plan was to "cut state spending by $10 billion and implement the Fair Tax, while scrapping the state income tax." When questioned at the debate about what he would cut to reach the $10 billion figure, Albers said that the quote was "taken out of context." Yet this newspaper verified Albers' position on the $10 billion in expense cuts, both during and shortly after the interview and prior to its being published, because the figure represents nearly half of the state's annual operating budget.
In the same article, when asked why he was running, Albers said he was "called by God to do this. He lined it up for me."
Albers was made aware of the ethical issues being raised in this story, but through a campaign spokesperson declined to be interviewed and refused to answer questions. George Snow, the communications director for Albers’ campaign, sent The Beacon an email saying, “We have decided to no longer respond to questions from The Beacon as our answers have been consistently distorted and The Beacon has taken a blatantly biased position in this election."
When asked to provide examples of any bias or distortion, Snow offered none.
Maggie Lee contributed to this story