Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 18, 2020


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 18, 2020

The United States government took out its first loan on September 18, 1789, the proceeds of which were used to pay the salaries of the President, and First Congress. Was that the first payday loan? On the same day, future President Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to E. Rutledge in which he requested that a shipment of olive trees be sent via Baltimore.

President George Washington laid the cornerstone of the United States Capitol on September 18, 1793.

We know from that newspaper article, and from Masonic ritual, that Washington placed an inscribed silver plate under the cornerstone at the southeast corner of this building. However, we do not know whether that meant the southeast corner of the Senate wing, the first section of the building to be completed, or the southeast corner of the whole building as intended, which would locate it over on the House side. Two centuries later, the Architect of the Capitol is still searching for that cornerstone. Metal detectors have failed to locate the silver plate.

President George Washington gave his farewell address on September 19, 1796.

The period for a new election of a Citizen, to Administer the Executive government of the United States, being not far distant, and the time actually arrived, when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person, who is to be cloathed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those, out of whom a choice is to be made.

I beg you, at the sametime, to do me the justice to be assured, that this resolution has not been taken, without a strict regard to all the considerations appertaining to the relation, which binds a dutiful Citizen to his country–and that, in withdrawing the tender of service which silence in my Situation might imply, I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest, no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness; but am supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with both.

President Millard Fillmore signed the Fugitive Slave Act on September 18, 1850, requiring that slaves be returned to their owners even if they were in a free state.

General Robert E. Lee retreated from Antietam Creek on September 18, 1862, following the bloodiest day of fighting in the Civil War.

On September 19, 1863, the Battle of Chickamauga was joined between the federal Army of the Cumberland under Maj. Gen. William Rosecrans and the Confederate Army of Tennessee under Gen. Braxton Bragg. On September 20, 1863, the Confederate Army of the Tennessee under General Braxton Bragg repelled Union forces under General William Rosencrans at the Battle of Chickamauga. After Gettysburg, Chickamauga is generally considered the second-bloodiest battle of the Civil War, with 18,500 Confederate casualties and 16,100 Union dead.

Thirteen marchers were shot and killed and forty more wounded in Camilla, Georgia at the Camilla Massacre on September 19, 1868 as marchers to a Republican Party rally were gunned down.

President James Garfield died on September 19, 1881, of wounds sustained on July 2d of that year. Garfield is one of seven Presidents born in Ohio – he and William McKinley were both killed by assassins.

Chickamauga National Battlefield was dedicated September 19, 1895.

The first classes at Oglethorpe University under it’s current non-denominational charter were held on September 20, 1916. Happy 104st Anniversary to the Stormy Petrels. The university was originally affiliated with the Presbyterian Church and located in Midway, Georgia. In 1870, after a period of closure during the Civil War they relocated to the Atlanta area.

On September 18, 1973, Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter filed a report claiming that he saw an Unidentified Flying Object in the sky above Leary, Georgia in 1969.

Carter was preparing to give a speech at a Lions Club meeting. At about 7:15 p.m (EST), one of the guests called his attention to a strange object that was visible about 30 degrees above the horizon to the west of where he was standing. Carter described the object as being bright white and as being about as bright as the moon. It was said to have appeared to have closed in on where he was standing but to have stopped beyond a stand of pine trees some distance from him. The object is then said to have changed color, first to blue, then to red, then back to white, before appearing to recede into the distance. Carter felt that the object was self-luminous, but not a solid in nature. Carter’s report indicates that it was witnessed by about ten or twelve other people, and was in view for ten to twelve minutes before it passed out of sight.

Click here to view a copy of the report, allegedly on file at the Carter Center.

On September 20, 1976, Playboy magazine released an interview with Jimmy Carter, then a candidate for President.

The Georgia General Assembly approved a new state Constitution on September 18, 1981, which was placed on the 1982 ballot and after approval by voters, went into effect in 1983.

On September 18, 1990, Atlanta was announced as the location for the 1996 Summer Olympic games.

Ted Turner announced on September 18, 1997 his intent to donate $1 billion to the United Nations.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp yesterday announced that Tim Fleming will leave as Chief of Staff at the end of the month. From the press release:

Governor Brian P. Kemp announced that his Chief of Staff and longtime advisor, Tim Fleming, is departing his administration to pursue new opportunities in the private sector.

“Tim has served my administrations for more than a decade,” said Governor Kemp. “I am grateful for his service and hard work, and I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

In 2002, Fleming worked on Kemp’s successful race for State Senate, and in 2010, managed the campaign for Kemp’s successful election as Georgia’s second Republican Secretary of State. Fleming went on to serve as Kemp’s Chief of Staff and then as Deputy Secretary of State before managing Kemp’s campaign for Governor. Fleming was named Chief of Staff for then Governor-elect Kemp in November of 2018.

During his tenure as Chief of Staff to the Governor, the state funded historic pay raises for teachers, cracked down on gangs and human trafficking, maintained a triple-A bond rating, and earned the distinction for being the “Top State for Doing Business” for the seventh consecutive year.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve this great state and champion the agenda of its 83rd Governor,” said Tim Fleming. “I truly appreciate the opportunities that Governor Kemp and his family have provided me over the years, and I look forward to beginning this new and exciting journey in the private sector.”

Fleming’s last day in the Governor’s office will be September 30, 2020.

Caylee Noggle, Georgia’s Chief Management Officer, will assume the duties as interim Chief of Staff as Fleming transitions out of the office. Noggle will be the first woman to serve in the role of Chief of Staff to Georgia’s Governor.

Before joining the Kemp administration in January 2020, Noggle served as President, Interim President, Chief Operating Officer, and Chief Financial Officer for the Georgia Student Finance Commission. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Millikin University and master’s degree in College Student Affairs from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock where she served as a financial aid officer before moving to Georgia.

Noggle has previously served as Director of the Physical and Economic Development Division in the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget where she handled budget and policy oversight for more than twenty state agencies. She also served as Coordinator of First Year and Academic Support Programs at the University of West Georgia. She is a past recipient of GASFAA’s Outstanding Service to Students Award and NASPA’s Graduate and Professional Student Award.

“I am honored and humbled by the responsibility of leading Governor Kemp’s administration through this transition,” said Caylee Noggle. “I look forward to serving Governor Kemp and the State of Georgia in this role.”

From the AJC:

Tim Fleming is set to join the newly-formed Georgia United Victory PAC, a free-spending outside group that promotes U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s campaign, ahead of her November special election against 20 challengers.

Fleming comes from a family accustomed to the political glare. His grandfather was a Pierce County Commission chairman, his father was a Newton County commissioner and Fleming won a narrow 2008 vote to serve one term on the Newton County commission.

He will soon join the pro-Loeffler PAC – an acronym for GUV – to help the Kemp appointee’s bid against U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, a four-term Republican congressman who casts himself as the authentic conservative in the free-for-all special election.

The governor’s advisers say Fleming is also likely to play a prominent role in Kemp’s bid for a second term early next year, a reflection of how the Republican is already preparing for another challenge by Abrams.

The Democratic Party of Georgia is going to ask the Secretary of State to allow them to break the law. From Fox5Atlanta:

The Democratic Party of Georgia hopes to convince the Secretary of State to give them one more chance to compete in the 14th Congressional district race this November.

Last week Democrat Kevin Van Ausdal announced he would be stepping down and moving out of state for family reasons. That leaves Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene as the only remaining candidate in the race.

“The ball is in the Secretary’s court and it’s up to him” said Sachin Varghese, the party’s general counsel. “He can choose to give Marjorie Greene a free pass to Congress or he can do his job and ensure that only qualified candidates are on the ballot.”

Under Georgia code, a candidate who withdraws from the race with less than 60 days until the election cannot be replaced.

The law does allow a party to choose a replacement if a candidate is disqualified within that 60-day window, but the Secretary of State’s Office is unlikely to do that.

National Democrats plan to spend $6 million dollars for Get-Out-The-Vote operations to support candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, according to the AJC.

A group aligned with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer unveiled a $6 million effort in Georgia geared toward mobilizing voters of color to back Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.

Majority Forward said Thursday it plans to partner with America Votes and national and local left-leaning organizations for a “sustained and integrated mobilization program” for the two candidates challenging Republican U.S. Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler.

The program will finance digital, direct mail and radio spots to urge left-leaning voters to devise a voting plan for the November election. It’s aimed at strengthening a framework ahead of a likely January runoff in one – and possibly both – of the races.

The development came on the same day that groups tied to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said they would spend another $3.2 million on the Georgia races.

Some $36 million has already been spent or reserved on TV and radio ads in the race for Loeffler’s seat, a November special election featuring Warnock and 19 other challengers, according to a tally by veteran media guru Rick Dent.

And roughly $91 million has already been spent or reserved for TV and radio spots in the contest for Perdue’s seat, Dent said. Pro-Perdue forces are spending $51 million, while Ossoff and his allies have amassed $40 million worth of ads.

All told, more than $127 million in Georgia has been spent or booked on U.S. Senate races alone this cycle.



Donald Trump, Jr. spoke to a crowd of supporters in Savannah, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Some 500 area supporters, including local elected officials, attended the Trump Victory event at the Savannah Convention Center. The gathering was the largest at the facility since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with attendees bringing full-throated cheers as Trump Jr. delivered numerous gibes at Joe Biden and menacing warnings about Democrats.

Face masks were provided by the campaign and their use was encouraged by facility signage, but about half of the crowd chose not to wear them.

Local leaders in attendance included Georgia House Representatives Jesse Petrea and Ron Stephens, as well as Chatham County Commissioner Pat Farrell; all three of them eschewed the use of face masks during much of the rally.

Unemployment fell two points in August, according to the Albany Herald.

Unemployment in Georgia fell by 2 percentage points last month to 5.6%, the state Department of Labor reported Thursday. That’s well below the national unemployment rate for August of 8.4% and less than half the 12.6% state jobless rate back in April.

“We anticipated a drop in the unemployment rate, as we have seen many businesses reengaging in the economy and bringing employees back to work,” Georgia Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler said.

“We have recovered more than 65% of the jobs lost since the pandemic began in mid-March,” Butler said. “After the substantial decline in employment in April, these types of increases are exactly what we need to get us back on course.”

The State House Governmental Affairs Committee released a report on the June 9, 2020 elections, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Rome News Tribune.

A state House committee probing issues that occurred during the June 9 primary elections in Georgia released a report Thursday outlining stumbles with absentee ballots and the state’s new voting machines that prompted long lines and steep concerns ahead of the Nov. 3 general election.

More than 1.6 million Georgians applied for absentee ballots ahead of the primary after state officials decided to send every registered voter an application form for the primary, which led to a historically huge number of mail-in votes.

But many voters testified to not receiving their absentee ballots at all after requesting them, according to the House report. In some cases, applications were sent to deceased voters or to incorrect addresses.

Voters who applied for absentee ballots but chose to vote in-person on Election Day also contributed to long lines since they had to formally cancel their mail-in ballots prior to voting at a polling place, the report noted.

Raffensperger’s office has repeatedly attributed the brunt of absentee-ballot issues to Fulton County election officials who were overwhelmed with a wave of mail-in requests and struggled to process ballots on Election Day.

According to the House report, insufficient training for poll workers on the new machines ahead of the election led to issues involving delays with troubleshooting the machines and “a lack of clear instruction for machine usage” during the primary.

Former Atlanta Chief Financial Officer James Beard pled not guilty to federal charges of fraud and other offenses, according to the AJC.

The indictment accuses Jim Beard of abusing his city-issued credit card to make personal purchases, including luxury travel, and using city funds to obtain a pair of automatic rifles.

The other charges Beard faces include two counts of federal program theft, false entry on an application or record, and obstructing Internal Revenue laws related to an audit of his tax return from 2013.

The indictment, handed down Tuesday and unsealed Wednesday, alleges Beard used his city purchasing card for personal expenses such as business-class airfare and limousine services. Other charges include more than $1,300 for a stay at the posh St. Regis Hotel in Buckhead, which featured “rose-petal turndown service,” prosecutors said.

Prosecutors allege Beard used more than $2,000 in city funds to acquire two automatic rifles, claiming the guns were for the Atlanta Police Department.

Federal prosecutors subpoenaed City Hall for travel and spending records related to Beard following reports on his purchasing card spending in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The AJC found Beard spent lavishly with his city credit card, including a more than $10,000 stay at a Paris hotel, which Beard later repaid after the AJC sought his spending records.

In Macon-Bibb County, evictions are resuming, according to the Macon Telegraph.

While Gov. Brian Kemp never issued a statewide eviction ban, some Georgians received protection from evictions under the CARES Act. From late March to July 25, tenants who participated in federal housing assistance programs or who lived in property with federally backed mortgages could not be forced from their homes.

On Sept. 4, the federal government through the CDC and Department of Health and Human Services issued a temporary halt on evictions through the end of the year in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19. However, the order only applies to people making less than $99,000 a year who would have no place to live or would be forced to live in close proximity with other people if evicted, and various jurisdictions are interpreting the order differently.

Tenants technically only need to file a declaration to halt eviction proceedings. Five temporary halts under the CDC’s order have been sought in Bibb County.

Cobb County public schools will reopen for in-person instruction in phases, according to the AJC.

The district will reopen classes on Oct. 5 to students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Some special education classes for kindergarten through 12th grade students will also have an in-person option in the first phase of the reopening.

[Superintendent Chris] Ragsdale said educators be teaching the same lessons to both groups of students at the same time. For the students learning remotely, the teachers will have laptops with cameras and equip themselves with Bluetooth microphones so students at home can see and hear them.

The district began the academic year with virtual-only classes on Aug. 17. Ragsdale said that the school district will continue to adapt and institute safety measures as long as the coronavirus pandemic is around.

Students and staff will be required to wear masks on buses and in buildings, including when they are in classes. Teachers will be asked to wear them whenever possible.

Some Fulton County teachers walked out over reopening issues, according to the AJC.

An unknown number of teachers walked out during their lunch breaks, so as to not disrupt teaching, to protest Fulton bringing back a quarter of students next Monday after being the first to stop face-to-face schooling due to COVID-19.

This is among the strongest actions the teachers can take because Georgia’s teachers don’t have access to unions in the traditional sense — state law prohibits collective bargaining and strikes by public employees. Teachers can join professional organizations that provide access to legal services, training opportunities and give them a more influential voice at the Capitol.

French teacher Brett Edeker said he and about 30 others walked outside of Riverwood High School in Sandy Springs to show they are afraid of returning everyone to classrooms. He said there were walkouts at Tri-Cities High School and other schools.

“Our teachers and employees should know data is driving is our decisions and the trends are favorable in Fulton County,” [Fulton County schools spokesperson Brian] Noyes said. ” … FCS has implemented a slow and cautious approach for returning to face-to-face instruction. Getting back to teaching exactly as it was before the coronavirus may not be possible, but we must recover and move forward in the best way we can.”

Closure of the D. Ray James Correctional Facility federal prison in Folkston has been delayed until at least next year, according to The Brunswick News.

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-1, announced the prison will remain open until at least early 2021.

“I am glad to confirm that we were able to secure a contract extension at D. Ray James Federal Corrections Facility in Folkston,” said Carter. “The facility is responsible for hundreds of jobs and is part of the backbone of the local economy. It would be devastating for the area if the facility shut down and the programs were moved elsewhere.

“During this contract extension, I am continuing to work on a long-term contract extension or alternative contracts.”

Closure of the GBI’s medical examiner’s office in Macon may affect local coroners, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The office in Macon, which is used by 37 coroners around the state, was originally scheduled to be closed in October, but the GBI announced this week plans to to keep it open until year’s end .

“It will impact us when they start sending the bodies to Atlanta and it adds 37 more counties to what they are already doing,” [Richmond County Coroner Mark] Bowen said. “If they add more counties, it is going to put us in more backlog.”

Whitfield County Commissioners approved new public safety vehicles and other spending, according to the Dalton Daily News.

The county received some $3.4 million in funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was signed into law by President Donald Trump. State officials who administer the program allowed the county to use that to cover the payroll of sheriff’s deputies, firefighters and others on the front lines of dealing with the new coronavirus (COVID-19).

That freed up an equivalent amount of money the county had budgeted for payroll, and commissioners decided whether they should use about $2.5 million of that money to fund new vehicles for the sheriff’s office and the fire department, as well as new technology for other departments.

The Port of Savannah notched its best month in Augusta, according to the Savannah Morning News.

During August the port handled 441,600 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) marking not only the best August on record, but the best overall month on record in the history of the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA).

Savannah will set another record on Friday as the largest container ship to ever dock on the east coast calls on the Port of Savannah. The CMA CGM Brazil is expected to make its way up the Savannah River front around 9 a.m.

“We were very pleased and surprised. I hate to say that, but we were not planning on this type of growth or any growth for that matter, but we were happy to see a record TEU count for August,” said GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch.

The Hall County Tax Commissioner sent out notices for 2020 property taxes, according to AccessWDUN.

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