Washington (CNN) - Only hours after former Congressman Nathan Deal won a nail biter of a runoff election for Georgia's Republican gubernatorial nomination, the White House said the candidate will have to explain ethics questions raised during the campaign.
At the White House briefing Wednesday, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about the party nominating a candidate who had been linked to birther questions. Deal in January sent the White House a letter asking President Obama to answer more questions about this birthplace, after saying in an interview the documentation publicly available "leaves many things to be desired".
Gibbs from the podium responded, "I think if you look at what Nathan Deal is probably going to have to explain over the course of this (election), that may be some of the least of his concerns, in terms of some ethics investigations currently ongoing."
The Office of Congressional Ethics in a report in March said "Representative Deal's conduct may have violated House Rules and House Standards of Conduct". The report alleged Dean exceeded limits on outside income, and helped "preserve a purely state program..that had generated financial benefit for Representative Deal and his business partner". Questions centered on a state vehicle inspection program .
Deal in a statement after the report called it "a politically motivated witch hunt. I have done nothing wrong and am not going to let this tarnish my 30-year record of public service."
Campaign spokesman Brian Robinson told CNN after Gibbs' comments, "The White House knows as little about politics as it does about creating jobs. I would like to remind him that the Democratic nominee went into hiding when Obama came into town. (Roy) Barnes has to hide from his own toxic record, now he has to run from Mr. Obama's."
Barnes did not appear with President Obama during an August 2nd fundraiser and speech in Atlanta, choosing instead to campagn in another part of the state.
Gibbs said Deal's narrow margin of victory of less than 2500 votes shows "a very splintered party" for Republicans, saying "even as you're hoping to find a nominee, who have a very divided party with someone like Roy Barnes who has a track record Georgians can be proud of."
Robinson responded, "'Nathan Deal is going to be the next governor of Georgia because he is the most qualified. We are going to win with the wind at our back because Georgians are so angry about the Democrats' job-destroying policies."
– CNN's Frances Sanchez contributed to this report.
(Updated at 3:34 p.m. ET on Thursday)