Georgia speaker of the House David Ralston has paid overdue property taxes after the Dawson County Tax Commissioner filed a lien against the land.

Records obtained by Channel 2’s Lori Geary show taxes were due on the property, owned by Ralston’s wife, on December 1. The tax commissioner filed the lien on June 14 for more than $1,300, including penalties and interest.

“It’s erosion of public trust,” said William Perry, with the political watch dog group Common Cause.

It’s not the first tax trouble for one of the most powerful Republicans in Georgia who paid taxes late on the Dawson County property each of the past four years.

In 2007, Ralston paid more than $400,000 to the federal government for unpaid taxes, interest and penalties, records showed. The speaker also had to pay almost $33,000 in unpaid Social Security taxes for employees at his law firm. Ralston blamed his bookkeeper who pleaded guilty to embezzlement, according to court documents. Ralston has also paid the state’s Department of Revenue tens of thousands of dollars in late payments on his personal income taxes, a search of records showed.

“As a public official, you need to be on top of those things. Especially if there have been late payments in the past,” Perry said. “When you think of somebody on probation or something, a minor offense is a minor offense but when it’s repeated then that shows it’s a sign of trouble,” Perry added.

Ralston would not speak to Geary but a spokesman released a statement that said, “it was an unfortunate oversight, but one that the speaker immediately addressed once he was made aware of the tax liability involving his wife’s family property. The speaker and his wife consider this matter resolved.”

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