Mr. Cagle said that improvements made to each of his real estate investments accounted for the increased valuations on his disclosure reports. But he could not explain why, in the case of the Landmark condo, his valuations remained high even after its appraised value plummeted.
The lieutenant governor said he bought the apartment to house his three sons as they attended nearby Georgia State University. He said he liked the Landmark’s location, posted a notice in the lobby and got a response from Mr. Hobbs. “He said he had a unit, take a look at it,” Mr. Cagle said. “I did and I said, ‘What’s your price?’ He said, ‘’97,000,’ and I said, ‘I’ll take it.’”
The apartment had been appraised for four years at $127,800 by the Fulton County Board of Tax Assessors, according to county records. It remained at that level in 2009 even as the recession battered Georgia real estate.
There were not many sales in the building during the period, but Mr. Cagle paid less per square foot than other buyers — $95.57 versus an average of $139.60 for the four other qualified sales between 2007 and 2009. The Board of Assessors labeled his purchase “unqualified” for appraisal purposes, meaning the price suggested it may have been influenced by factors other than market value.
Mr. Cagle pointed to other one-bedroom apartments that had sold for $2,000 less and $11,500 more than his. “I am well within the range of what the value was,” he said. But property records reveal that those units are much smaller.
Campaign finance records show that Mr. Hobbs has donated about $240,000 to Georgia candidates, including nearly $12,000 to Mr. Cagle and $1,700 to Mr. Kemp. In 2008, shortly before selling the Landmark condo to Mr. Cagle, he reported spending $1,500 during the three-month legislative session to stock a “hospitality room” there for legislators.
Lobbyists and corporate interests have given generously to the lieutenant governor’s political committees, and an outside nonprofit group supporting his campaign, Citizens for Georgia’s Future, is led by two longtime Capitol lobbyists.