Our network

Georgia Southern and Staton Co-Owned Company Still At Odds | News

Title (Max 100 Characters)

Georgia Southern and Staton Co-Owned Company Still At Odds

After more than a year, a company co-owned by state senator Cecil Staton's family and Georgia Southern University still disagree over money.

The university says it sent their $53,000 dispute to a collection agency, but the company's lawyer says they may send it to court.

Staton is majority whip of the Georgia Senate.

He is also president and CEO of a company called Georgia Eagle Media.

One year ago this week, we first reported that Georgia Southern claims the company owes them more than $50,000.

The school ended its relationship with Georgia Eagle Media over what they call a "breach of contract".

Georgia Eagle Media ran their sports radio network and shared advertising revenue.

Letters and e-mails show that Georgia Southern and Georgia Eagle Media couldn't reach an agreement.

The school said the company owed it $53,239.55.

13WMAZ obtained letters through open records requests to Georgia Southern that showed Staton never directly acknowledged the debt. In those letters and e-mails, Staton argued that his business was facing a bad economy and asked the university to extend the contract with the company.

Georgia Southern denied that request and ended their contract July 1st 2011.

The university said Georgia Eagle Media later tried to make a partial payment of $24,804, but the unversity sent their check back.

University spokesman Christian Flathman says that was their last communication with Georgia Eagle Media, and they turned the debt over to a collections agency.

In an e-mail to 13WMAZ this week Flathman wrote, "Once it is submitted to collections, there is a process, and it is outside of Georgia Southern's control. If the collection agency does not collect the funds, per University of Georgia Board of Regents' policy, the unversity's next step is to submit to the State Accounting Office for approval to reserve the debt."

Essentially, that means the state could collect the debt or give the university permission to write it off as a noncollectable debt.

Flathman says there is not timetable for when that could happen.

Last year, Staton did not respond to 13WMAZ's requests for an interview on this matter.

13WMAZ tried to reach Senator Staton by phone, email and at his place of business, asking for an interview to get his side of the story. His assistant said he was not available, and would e-mail us a statement.

His company's statement says Staton's family "owns 50-percent of the company, but not a controlling interest."

According to the Georgia Secretary of State's website, it lists Cecil Staton as the registered agent for Georgia Eagle Media, Inc.

He is listed as the CEO. His wife as the CFO and Joe Sam Robinson is listed as the company's secretary.

Staton's most recent state financial disclosure lists himself as the company's president and board member. Under the section where elected officials must list payments from the State of Georgia, Staton reported that Georgia Eagle Media recieved $38,500 from advertisers on the Georgia Southern Radio Network.

All the correspondence from Georgia Eagle Media to Georgia Southern about this dispute has come from Staton.

Georgia Eagle's statement calls the disagreement a "contract dispute" with Georgia Southern University "not connected personally or individually with Cecil Staton."

The company added, "Were it not the case that Mr. Staton is state senator and in a contested primary election in five weeks, we are confident this legal dispute between two business entities would not warrant the attention of Georgia Eagle Media, Inc's media competitors."

That last phrase refers to Georgia Eagle Media's television and radio operation, WRWR, in Warner Robins.

The statement referred questions to Macon attorney Wendell Horne. He told 13WMAZ that Georgia Eagle Media may go to court to let a jury decide how much the company owes.

Horne said the company is confident that they will prevail.

An Upson County doctor, Spencer Price is challenging Staton in the July 31st primary for the 18th District State Senate seat.

Records from the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission show Price owes a $125 fine to the state. It says he filed a campaign finance disclosure form late.


Robins Businesses