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“To surround me with good people who have ability, judgement and knowledge, but above all, a passion for service” – Sonny Perdue (2017). The gentleman who made this statement is the United States Secretary of Agriculture under President Trump. Sonny has held this position since March 30, 2017. He was selected for this position by Trump and then was transferred over to the US Senate. The United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry with a 19-1 voice vote. With Sonny Perdue was born George Ervin “Sonny” Perdue III December 20, 1946.
He was born to a school teacher Mrs. Ophie Holt and a farmer Mr. George Evin Perdue Jr. in Perry, Georgia. Sonny recalls how his father’s farm was diverse as it grew wheat, corn, peanuts and cotton. . “My philosophy of leadership is to surround myself with good people who have ability, judgement and knowledge, but above all, a passion for service” – Sonny Perdue (2017)
Mr. Perdue resides today is the same city he grew up in Bonaire, GA.
The city of Bonaire, Ga is in Houston County. He While In school Perdue was a quarterback on his high school team and a walk-on at the University of Georgia. He was also a member of the fraternity, Beta-Lambda of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity. While in attending University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine he received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. Sonny then went on to becoming a small business owner but only after working as a veterinarian.
Perdue or Sonny as he prefers to be called, even signs official documents and was sworn in under Sonny, had quite an extensive career.
He was discharged from the U.S. Air Force after achieving the rank of Captain. While serving in the nations military he earned instrument, flight instructor and multi-engine ratings. He still maintains his pilot’s license for 30 plus years and owns a single-engine airplane. During his time serving he worked as a vet. He was enlisted after graduating from UGA and served till 1971.
There were several different positions of government office positions in leadership. With encouragement from friends he went from serving on the Houston County Planning and Zoning Board during the 1980’s to running for state Senate. Once a state Senate he was selected to become Democratic majority lead. However, in 1998 is when he decided to switch parties. At this point he became a traitor to the democrats and was unable to sway influence over the parties lines. Rather than risk defeat when running for Senate he resigned and ran for Governor. As the Governor of Georgia, he passed many tough laws dealing with methamphetamines and worked to improve the disaster preparedness for Georgia. He ran 2 terms as Governor and was followed by Mr. Nathan Deal in 2011.
In 2017, critics started to point fingers at Sonny and call him out for failing to honor the ethics pledge he had taken while in his Governor position. The criticism was based off the fact that he was Governor and that he owned or help family business ventures. This conflict of interest had caused him to be one of the last elected in to Trump’s cabinet. While serving as Governor 13 complaints had 13 complaints with the State Ethics Commission. He was found to be guilty of violating state law ethics twice. “When you are a public official you are supposed to be acting entirely on behalf of the public and not for self-gain,” said Yasha Heidari,(NYTimes.com). He was found to have collected at least $25,000 worth of gifts or benefits while in office as Governor according to a 2010 report by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. The spokesman for Sonny had stated, “the gifts were to the state not the governor”.
The spokesperson also stated “trips were for official state business and were perfectly acceptable as saving taxpayer funds.” This was not the only issue Sonny has run into with concerns of accepting gifts. He was fined in 2005 when it was found that he had taken campaign contributions that exceeded the state limits from many sources, including One of the sources being a political action committee ran by SunTrust. There was another time in 2004 when the controversy involving him included the purchase of a piece of property and was allowed to defer paying federal capital gains taxes on a separate piece of property. He then signed a bill the following year eliminating state tax obligations. When faced with all the allegations brought against him a spokesperson had stated that it was because it had been 135 years since Georgia had a Republican Governor. Although a Republican now there was a time that he was part of the Democratic party.
When he changed parties he stated it was due to Democrats losing focus of their family values. The most current of challenges that Sonny is facing is the plan he announced to move 700 employees of Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. This idea was made with hopes of reducing employees cost of living and to boost recruitment from regions that are farm based. (dsc Ag). While some stress that a conflict of interest may potentially arise from such move Sonny has responded stating ‘We are committed to retaining the necessary staff from each agency in the D.C. area to continue to fulfill these important roles.’ The decision to move office was made without consulting Congress or stakeholders and partners of the USDA.
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