Sam Caldwell


For seventeen years, Labor Commissioner Sam Caldwell treated underlings like serfs: Shaking them down for campaign donations. Extracting a TV, a new car, even cash to pay his taxes. Making them fix his boats, including one so rickety they dubbed it the “African Queen.” All this while making pleasure trips—including snorkeling in the Bahamas—on state time. A federal jury sent Caldwell to prison in 1984 for sinking a boat to collect the insurance money. He took several state workers to the slammer with him; a dozen others were charged with racketeering but never prosecuted.

History Repeats Caldwell won the job after accusing his predecessor of squeezing state workers to give time and money to his campaign. The UGA journalism grad escaped indictment in the 1970s, later speaking dismissively of critics: “Who are they going to complain to, the Lord? We just beat a federal grand jury investigation.”