Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 9, 2015

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 9, 2015

Georgia and American History

The Continental Congress renamed their new nation the United States of America, from the previously used “United Colonies.”

On September 9, 1933, WSB Radio in Atlanta was upgraded to broadcasting via 50,000 watt transmitter. The first broadcast included Will Rogers and a letter from President Roosevelt.

On September 9, 1939, an audience at the Fox Theater in Riverside, California watched a preview of Gone With the Wind.

The first actual computer bug was identified on September 9, 1947, when Grace Hopper removed a moth from an electrical relay in the Harvard Mark II computer. Hopper received her Ph.D. in Mathematics from Yale in 1934 and attained the rank of Rear Admiral, Lower Half in the United Stated Navy. USS Hopper (DDG-70) was named after her.

On September 9, 1954, Marvin Griffin won the Democratic Primary election over Melvin Thompson.

Elvis Presley first appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show on September 9, 1956.

Today, Queen Elizabeth II becomes the longest-serving monarch in British history, surpassing the record set by her great-grandmother Queen Victoria.

Happy 72d birthday to former Congressman John Linder. Linder served in the State House from 1974-1980 and 1982-90. In 1990 he ran unsuccessfully for Congress against incumbent Democrat Ben Jones; in 1992, after redistricting, Linder was elected to Congress from the 7th District and served until his retirement after the 2010 election.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Candidates for the November 3, 2015 Special Election to fill the House District 122 seat vacated by former State Rep. Ben Harbin and the Special Election to fill the Senate seat formerly held by now-Judge Ronald Ramsey will qualify next week.

Tuesday, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced receipt of Governor Nathan Deal’s Writ of Election setting Tuesday, November 3rd as the date for the special elections to fill the vacancies in State Senate District 43 and State House District 122.

Kemp set candidate qualifying for Monday, September 14th through Wednesday, September 16th. Qualifying on Monday will run from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.; on Tuesday from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.; and on Wednesday from 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon.

Candidates will qualify in the Elections Division of the Office of Secretary of State, located at 802 West Tower, 2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, in Atlanta. The qualifying fee is $400.

The election for Georgia Senate District 43 will occur in portions of DeKalb County, Rockdale County, and Newton County to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Ronald Ramsey. The election for Georgia House of Representatives District 122 will occur in Columbia County to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Ben Harbin.

Run-off elections, if needed, will be held Tuesday, December 1, 2015.

Virginia-based political consultant Brett O’Donnell pled guilty to federal charges of making false statements in relation to an investigation by the Office of Congressional Ethics and may serve up to five years and be fined up to $250,000. From the Macon Telegraph,

Brett O’Donnell, of Virginia-based O’Donnell & Associates, pleaded guilty to an information — a charging document used in lieu of an indictment — in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia.

The document alleges that the OCE launched an investigation in March 2014 into whether a congressman’s office had improperly used congressionally appropriated funds to pay O’Donnell for campaign-related services.

The court documents don’t identify the congressman, other than to call him “Congressman A.”

When interviewed by OCE on June 23, 2014, O’Donnell made several false statements to “minimize and conceal” the nature and scope of his role in the congressman’s campaign and his interactions with the congressman’s chief of staff, according to the court documents.

A report released last year by the OCE included allegations that U.S. Rep. Paul Broun’s office had paid O’Donnell’s firm $43,750 between June 2012 and March 2014.

Allegations surfaced that O’Donnell was paid from Broun’s official congressional allowance for help with his campaigns.

Here’s the most interesting line from a Roll Call story on O’Donnell’s plea.

He will be sentenced in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia at a later date, and has agreed to cooperate with the government as part of the plea deal.

I don’t think you’re asked to cooperate with the government unless they’re seeking to charge someone else close to you.

Speaking of corruption, DeKalb County DA Robert James will hire additional investigators, according to MyAJC.com.

District Attorney Robert James, who has said he lacked adequate resources to fully investigate all the complaints, will soon hire more staff dedicated to the task.

The DeKalb Commission unanimously approved funding Tuesday for five employees — attorneys, investigators and paralegals — for James’ corruption-busting efforts. The $186,000 appropriation covers their salaries for the rest of the year. The positions will cost about $493,000 annually if the commission continues to fund them.

James said he’ll now be able to more aggressively investigate a flood of corruption accusations, including those contained in a special purpose grand jury’s report issued two years ago. That report recommended criminal investigations of 12 government contractors and officials, including suspended DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis.

“He has a big job to do, and he needs the funding to do it,” said Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton, who pushed for the additional money.

Last night, the Cobb County Commission voted to pass the county government’s 2016 budget.

A divided Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 to approve the county’s $789.2 million budget for fiscal 2016 at its meeting Tuesday morning with some board members criticizing the way the county approaches the budget process.

Commissioners Bob Ott and Lisa Cupid voted against adopting the budget, but Commissioners JoAnn Birrell and Bob Weatherford also expressed concerns before voting in favor.

The Cobb County Board of Education will consider making permanent extending an existing E-SPLOST.

At this morning’s school board meeting, Cobb Superintendent Chris Ragsdale is expected to ask the board for permission to begin planning for a new 1 percent special purpose local option sales tax program once the existing program expires.

Voters approved SPLOST IV in March 2013. Tax collections began in January 2014 and expire at the end of December 2018, according to Brad Johnson, the district’s chief financial officer. The Cobb School District is projected to collect $717.8 million during that span, while Marietta City Schools is projected to collect $55.4 million, officials say.

Randy Scamihorn, Cobb school board chairman, believes a SPLOST V is needed.

“It’s something that’s needed for a number of reasons,” Scamihorn said, citing high expectations for education in the county, crowding at existing schools and the growth the county is expected to see in south Cobb.

Scamihorn said he expected a SPLOST V would go before voters sometime in 2017, and acknowledged the district was starting early in the planning process.

A bipartisan group examining criminal justice reform visited Georgia to learn about reforms undertaken under Gov. Nathan Deal.

The Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections is a nine-person, bipartisan group that is congressionally mandated to analyze data and make recommendations to tackle challenges in the federal corrections system. The members have been meeting this year with groups that would be affected and plan to finalize their suggestions in December and to release their final report in January.

In the public round table meeting at the Georgia Capitol, task force members heard from Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Michael Boggs and State Bar of Georgia director of governmental affairs Thomas Worthy, co-chairmen of the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice reform. The discussion was moderated by former state Rep. Jay Neal, the executive director of the Governor’s Office of Transition, Support and Reentry.

The Georgia initiative began in 2011 and has become a signature project for Republican Gov. Nathan Deal. It has led to the passage of comprehensive laws to overhaul the adult and juvenile criminal justice systems and to aid the re-entry of offenders into society once they are released.

Keys to success in Georgia included executive leadership from the governor, the will to get past politics and partisanship, collaboration, and inclusion of those affected, Boggs told the federal task force members.

Neal and Boggs stressed that simply looking at sentencing, probation and diversion programs isn’t enough, that meaningful efforts need to be made to help offenders while they are in prison so they are adequately prepared for their release.

SEC Primary

If the SEC Primary might raise the profile of conservatives in the Republican Presidential Primary, it might affect the Democratic nomination by enhancing the influence of African-American Democrats, who can dominate primary elections in the South. From the Charlotte Observer,

The New York Times reported this week that Clinton is banking on a Southern firewall. South Carolina Democrats vote Feb. 27. Democrats in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia hold an “SEC primary” on March 1.

North Carolina tentatively plans a March 15 vote.

To compete in those states, Sanders will have to do something he doesn’t have to do in Iowa or New Hampshire: Win African-American votes. In 2008, 55 percent of South Carolina’s Democratic primary voters were black.

“That demographic is not matched by the crowds at Bernie Sanders’ events,” said Scott Huffmon, a Winthrop political scientist. “The simple fact is in South Carolina, if you can’t make significant inroads with black primary voters, you’re just not going to have any success in the Democratic primary.”

Events

Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon kicks off his reelection campaign tomorrow night beginning at 6 PM at Taylor-Brawner Park.

Max Bacon Kickoff SM

On September 17, 2015, Bainbridge State College Honors Program and the Decatur County Board of Elections and Voter Registration will host a panel discussion with Bainbridge Mayor Edward Reynolds, Donalsonville Mayor (formerly State Rep.) Dan Ponder, former Secretary of State Cathy Cox, and former Libertarian Gubernatorial nominee John Monds.

The Georgia Republican Party will host Frank Luntz as the keynote speaker at their Chairman’s Dinner on Monday, October 5, 2015 in Atlanta.

GAGOP Chairmans Dinner

Later that month, on October 24, 2015,  GAGOP will host a Second Amendment Celebration at Wild Bill’s in Duluth.

GAGOP 2A

On October 19, 2015, the Cobb County Republican Party will host their first annual Cobb GOP Golf Tournament.

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