Delta SkyMiles has been in the news lately for granting elite status to several Georgia politicians. Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle and five other legislators received either Gold or Platinum Medallion status courtesy of Delta SkyMiles. And Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and his wife were granted Diamond Medallion status two weeks after signing legislation that gave the airline a partial exemption from the fuel sales tax, valued at $30 million. “This was obviously a thank you for signing that bill,” said William Perry, executive director of Common Cause Georgia, a government watchdog group.
But a spokesman for Deal says that the perks granted from Delta were part of an effort to promote economic development, not a personal gift to the governor and his wife, and the elite status will only be used for state business. “They will not be doing any personal leisure travel while he is governor. They spend their vacations in Georgia.”
After taking office, Deal signed an executive order extending a policy set by former Gov. Sonny Perdue that bans state officials from accepting gifts worth more than $25 from anyone with whom they conduct state business. But a spokesman for Deal said that limitation does not apply to the Delta perks because they were given to promote economic development, not as a personal gift.