Category: Political Consulting


Georgia Politics, Campaigns and Elections for January 2, 2014

Welcome to 2014. We are now 4 months and 18 days (138 days) from the 2014 Primary Elections and 10 months, 2 days (306 days) from the 2014 General Elections.

No day of the year better illustrates the duality of Georgia’s place in American history than January Second. On January 2, 1788, delegates to a convention in Augusta voted unanimously and Georgia became the fourth state to ratify the Constitution of the United States of America. On January 2, 1861, Georgia voters went to the polls to elect delegates to the Secession Convention to be held January 16th in Milledgeville, then Georgia’s Capital.

On January 2, 1916, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court Joseph R. Lamar died in Washington, DC. Lamar was born in Ruckersville, Georgia and grew up next door to best friend Woodrow Wilson, who served  Lamar attended the University of Georgia, received his BA from Bethany College and his law degree from Washington & Lee University School of Law. Lamar served in the Georgia House of Representatives and on the Georgia Supreme Court before being nominated to the United State Supreme Court by  President William Taft (R-Ohio).

Old Georgia Capitol1

Polls are open in HD 2 and 22 Special Elections

Check the Secretary of State’s website for information on where and when you can vote in the Special Elections for House District 2 (Catoosa, Walker, and Whitfield Counties) and House District 22 (Cobb, Forsyth, and Fulton Counties).

Speaking of Secretary of State Brian Kemp, his official website has a new design, one that’s responsive to screen size and should work well on tablets and smartphones.

New Kemp Website

One thing I would note is that it looks like his photo was taken by the same guy who shot David Perdue’s early headshots, as well as some for Donna Sheldon and Barry Loudermilk. I’d bet the shots were taken with a Nikon D4, D800, D800E, or D600. It’s easy to correct in the camera, and if you’ve already taken shots with a green cast, you can correct it in Photoshop.

Campaign Disclosure system like

With the New Year came new reporting and registration requirements for lobbyists, and it appears that the Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission online system may not be up to the task. Last night, we saw numerous reports of lobbyists registering for this year but not receiving a promised email to confirm their registration.

We also heard over the weekend that the campaign disclosure system was having a problem where it won’t allow the download of .pdfs of working files. So if you want to double-check your work, you may be out of luck.

According to the State Ethics Commission website, here are the upcoming deadlines for state campaigns.

2013 Year End Report Grace Period ends January 8, 2014.

2014 First Report covering the period through January 31, 2014, Grace Period ends February 7, 2014.

So, for the first time under the new law, candidates with elections this year have an extra disclosure due at the end of January.

Here’s my advice for anyone with reports due in the coming days. First, file early, even if it means that you might need to amend later, because you get fined for filing late, not for amending a timely-filed report. Second, if you do find the disclosure system bogging down and throwing errors, document it, document it, document it. Screenshots are your friend here, as are emails to the Commission’s help center.

Other new laws now effective in effect

Last year’s Lobbying Reform push, which brought us the new January 31 disclosure designed to capture last-minute fundraising in advance of the legislative session, we also have new limits on lobbyist gifts to legislators.

While the ethics laws set the first state limits on how much a lobbyist can spend, there remain considerable loopholes and questions about how the laws will be enforced. The state ethics commission, which has been dealing with various investigations and federal subpoenas, is tasked with interpreting the new laws and creating rules for compliance. That process could take weeks or months.

Under the new laws, lobbyists will not be able to spend more than $75 at a time. Previously, lobbyists could spend as much as they wanted as long as it was noted on disclosure reports filed with the state.

Potential loopholes exist. For instance, lobbyists can still spend more to host group events where all members of the General Assembly or all members of a smaller group, such as a caucus, are invited. In addition, the $75 cap is on lobbyists, not lawmakers, so it’s conceivable that more than one lobbyist might join forces and split the cost so each doesn’t exceed the limit.

Also notable about the Lobbying legislation is a new definition of “Lobbyist” that broadens who must register with the State Ethics Commission, and zeroes out the registration fee for lobbyists to allow unpaid or modestly paid citizen-lobbyists to register without a financial burden.

All new employees in childcare facilities must be cleared through a national fingerprint background check.

Juvenile Justice Reform, passed with the support of Gov. Nathan Deal as the sequel to justice reform for adult offenders and enhances the flexibility of judges to sentence juveniles to programs other than traditional youth detention centers.

“Currently, if we take a child and put them into a called ‘secure detention,’ that child is going to cost the state over $90,000 a year. You could put children through the finest college in this country for less cost than that,” said Rep. Wendell Willard, (R) Sandy Springs, the bill’s primary sponsor.

That high price tag is attributed to the cost of educating a child while he or she is incarcerated. Instead, the community-based programs will keep youth offenders at home with their families and at their regular schools, greatly reducing the cost to the state.

Legislation to address concussions in youth sports, called the “Return to Play Act,” also goes into effect today.

Georgia’s Return to Play Act of 2013 requires coaches to pull kids displaying signs of concussions off the fields for medical evaluation.

The law will keep children who’ve suffered head injuries from playing until they’re cleared by a doctor.  Some say it sounds good, but others worry it won’t work.  The players dashing down the field each game now have extra protection.

“It’s always in the back of your mind when any of your children play sports that, you know, there’s always a chance that it could happen,” said Larry Smith, Parent.

A new state law requires coaches to pull players who may have suffered a concussion out of the game.

“Basically, what it does it makes people aware of what they are and what dangers it could lead to,” said Dr. Mike Busman, Family Medicine and Sports Medicine Physician.

Busman said recognizing concussions can be tricky.  He said removing injured players from games is essential before they get hit again.

“It could cause loss of consciousness, bleeds on the brain, swelling on the brain, and could lead to death,” he said.

Doctors said concussions are fairly common among younger athletes, especially in high contact sports like football and soccer.  They said younger athletes are also more prone to second impact syndrome, leading to more serious complications.

There’s a burning Mercedes in your yard

State Senator Brandon Beach had an unexpected visitor in the form of a flaming Mercedes that his a brick wall feet from his house.

“We heard a loud noise, ‘boom,'” said Sen. Brandon Beach, whose home sits just on the other side of the wall. “I thought a transformer blew or something.”

Beach told Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik his son looked out the window and saw Cobb’s Mercedes in flames.

“It would have (hit) my car if that hadn’t stopped him,” he said of the wall that curtailed the car’s momentum.

Neighbor Theresa Lynch said she also heard the impact and ran outside to investigate.

“I saw fireball, ran back, got the phone, called 911,” she said. “That fire licked up about 4 feet in a short time.”

Bob Bar drops the “I Bomb”

That’s several letters more serious than the “F Bomb.” From Barr’s column that ran in Town Hall:

December 19th marked the fifteenth anniversary of the impeachment of then- President Bill Clinton by the House of Representatives. As the first member of Congress to file an official impeachment document and one of the 13 House members who prosecuted Clinton’s subsequent trial in the Senate, I was intimately involved with — and in — that process. Not only was the 1998 impeachment a powerful and necessary response to the gauntlet throw at the feet of Congress by the Clinton Administration, it was an important exercise employing a mechanism purposefully incorporated in our Constitution by our Founding Fathers.

Today, talk of impeachment is once again growing, but the lessons from previous impeachment proceedings must not be ignored. As was the case with President Richard Nixon in 1974 and Clinton in 1998, there is growing evidence President Barack Obama has engaged in “serious offenses” that “subvert” our government and “undermine the integrity of office.” It is interesting to note (as I did in an April 25, 1997 opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal) that such terminology was used in a February 1974 report written by the staff of the Nixon impeachment inquiry, outlining the “constitutional grounds for presidential impeachment” – a report a young lawyer named Hillary Clinton helped draft.

Even a passive observer of the machinations of the Obama Administration would be hard pressed to deny that such damning language is applicable today as it was to Bill Clinton and before him to Richard Nixon. Like his predecessors, Obama ascribes to the philosophy blatantly articulated by Richard Nixon a generation ago, that “[w]hen the president does it, that means it is not illegal.” It is for this very reason why the impeachment process exists, and why Republicans should never consider impeachment “off the table” in addressing the misconduct of President Obama who is, as Hamilton declares for us, a “public man” abusing the “public trust.”

Such an inquiry is needed today. Republicans should only fear impeachment if they abuse the process by letting politics guide their inquiry, rather than the pursuit of objective truth. And, Democrats should only fear impeachment if they care more for the health of their party than the health of the nation.

As in 1998, the integrity of the office of the presidency hangs in the balance; and our Founding Fathers watch us still.

Matt Towery:

In his national column, this week titled “US Chamber Vow to Take on Tea Party a Stupid, Divisive Move,” InsiderAdvantage CEO Matt Towery writes:

The most likely nominee for the GOP Senate nomination is longtime Republican Congressman Jack Kingston.

Make of it what you will.

Event Calendar

9th District GOP: A Visit with Governor Nathan Deal

January 2, 2014 from 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Achasta Club House Grille, 639 Birch River Drive, Dahlonega, GA 30533

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9th District GOP of Georgia Save the date for a visit with Governor Nathan Deal on Thursday, January 2, 2014, at 7 PM, at the Achasta Club House Grille in Dahlonega, 639 Birch River Drive. This intimate gathering around the fire with refreshments is being co hosted by the Dawson County Republican Party, Lumpkin County Republican Party and Foothills Republican Women.

Find out more »

Buckhead YR: Happy Hour

January 2, 2014 from 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Twin Peaks Buckhead, 3365 Piedmont Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30305

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Twin Peaks? Really, Bro? Is that before or after the gender sensitivity training session?

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Spalding GOP: Meeting with David Pennington

January 2, 2014 from 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM

J. Henry’s, 110 W. College St., Griffin, GA 30224

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Come join us for our regularly scheduled monthly meeting and start off the New Year right! The meeting will be Thursday, January 2nd at J. Henry’s. Those wishing to socialize and purchase dinner should arrive at 6 PM, with meeting starting at 7 PM. Our guest speaker will be David Pennington. David is running for Governor of Georgia. He is a small business owner and Mayor of Dalton. Please make every effort to attend this meeting and be an informed…

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Gwinnett GOP: Breakfast with David Pennington, Karen Handel, Nancy Jester, & Dahlys Hamilton

January 4, 2014 from 8:30 AM – 10:00 AM

550 Trackside, 550 North Clayton Street, Lawrenceville, GA 30046

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Join us for our first breakfast of 2014, when our speakers will be candidate for Governor David Pennington, Senate candidate Karen Handel, State School Superintendent candidate Nancy Jester and House 97 candidate Dahlys Hamilton. Doors open at 7:45 AM for breakfast, and the meeting starts at 8:30. You can order a full buffet breakfast for $10, juice and coffee for $5, or pay a $3 door charge. Make your reservations for breakfast before January 3rd.

Find out more »

Fayette County GOP: Meeting with John Barge, David Perdue, & Richard Woods

January 4, 2014 from 8:30 AM – 9:30 AM

Fayette GOP HQ, 174 Glynn St. N (GA Hwy 85), Fayetteville, GA 30214

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Three Republican Speakers: John Barge – GA Gubernatorial Candidate Richard Woods -Candidate for State School Supertintendent  David Perdue –  Candidate for US Senate

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Jack Kingston: Grand Opening New Campaign HQ

January 5, 2014 from 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Jack Kingston Senate HQ, 3360 Satellite Blvd Duluth, GA 30096

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Jack Kingston is having a Grand Opening kickoff party for the new headquarters of his US Senate campaign. The party is open to all– volunteers, supporters and anyone else who can make it out to meet Jack, and your invitation is attached. Please come, bring any guests you would like, and welcome the Kingston for Senate campaign to the neighborhood!

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Downton Abbey – Season 4 Premier

January 5, 2014 from 9:00 PM – 10:00 PM

Glynn GOP: US Senate Candidate Forum with Rep. Jack Kingston

January 6, 2014 from 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM

Christian Renewal Church, 4265 Norwich St Ext (aka Hwy 341), Brunswick, GA 31520

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Jack Kingston, US House Representative for Dist 1 and US Senate Candidate for GA, is appearing in the fourth of our US Senate candidate forums We are expecting a large crowd so come early to get your seat and to spend time talking with Rep Kingston before the program begins. Short candidate speech followed by questions posed by our panel Please bring a friend, neighbor, spouse – or even a stranger – who is interested in learning more about candidates…

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Campaign Fundraiser for State Rep. Mike Jacobs

January 7, 2014 from 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Olde Blind Dog Irish Pub, 705 Town Boulevard, Brookhaven, GA 30319

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Please join Speaker David Ralston, Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones, Majority Leader Larry O’Neal, Brookhaven Mayor J Max Davis, Chamblee Mayor Eric Clarkson and Dunwoody Mayor Mike Davis at a campaign fundraiser for State Rep. Mike Jacobs. With Ron Paul inspired primary opposition set to formally announce after the start of the legislative session, we need your help now. Olde Blind Dog is located in Town Brookhaven, off of Peachtree Road just south of Oglethorpe University.

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Fundraiser for Senator Judson Hill

January 7, 2014 from 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM

The Georgian Club, 100 Galleria Parkway, Atlanta, GA 30339

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You are Invited to a Reception for Senator Judson Hill, Vice Chairman of the Republican Senate Caucus, Chairman Senate Finance Committee. Suggested Contribution $250    Contributions may be made payable to Friends of Judson Hill, 3102 Raines Court, Marietta, GA 30062. In lieu of your appearance, please consider making an online contribution at

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This should get Matt Laughridge’s attention


Perhaps apropos of that, I was forwarded in the last couple of days an email that purportedly was from Matt Laughridge’s consultant in his failed bid for Senate District 14. Here it is with the alleged sender’s name redacted. I have no way of knowing of this is genuine or a hoax, so make of it what you will:

Dear Suppliers,

I want to let each of you know how much I have appreciated your patience with me these last few weeks. I have never been in such a difficult situation with a client in all of my twenty three years of political consulting. I have provided the Matt Laughridge Campaign with everything they have requested in an effort to secure payment. I have made numerous attempts to meet with them, and/or simply just talk over the phone, but there has been no direct communication with Matt except for some text messaging since the campaign. Matt has refused to talk to me and directed me to his attorney. I therefore have had to get an attorney involved as well. My attorney has been encouraging and believes there will eventually be a positive outcome.

The decision of the Laughridge Campaign to withhold payment has been devastating to me both personally and professionally. It is hard to understand how anyone would do this to people especially during the holidays. I have always taken care of my vendors in a very timely manner. As the sole breadwinner for me and my family, you can imagine that this has been a true nightmare. It is a week before Christmas. The one charge card I use is tied up with unpaid campaign debt. Last year was the first Christmas without my husband, my children’s father. This season is difficult enough for us. This added unnecessary stress on me is making this year virtually intolerable.

I want you all to know that I am doing all that I can to honor my obligations in a timely manner. There are no words to express how sorry I am for this delay and how much I appreciate your patience. I will update you as soon as I have any information.

[name redacted]


Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for December 2, 2013

Top Stories

1. Accusations fly in Senate District 14 Runoff Election
2. North Georgia key in Senate election
3. Jason Carter throws Nathan Deal into briar patch

Economic Disaster Day observed

December 2d shall henceforth be known as National Economic Disaster Day. On December 2, 1939, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was born in Searchlight, Nevada. On this date in 1970, the federal Environmental Protection Agency began operating. Five years ago today, then-newly elected President Barack Obama said he would act swiftly on an economic plan “to solve this crisis and to ease the burden on our states.” Americans still wait for action on that item. Also on this date in 2008, Senator Saxby Chambliss was re-elected in a runoff victory over Democrat Jim Martin.

The Georgia Pundit Telethon

We here at Georgia Pundit believe that December is a great time of year to renew our commitment to serving God and His people. It’s also convenient that it falls in the time of year that typically has very little political activity. So this is our month of service, and for me, that means it’s a month of personally begging you to open your hearts and your wallets.

My House is a home for children whom the system and their families have failed. They provide a loving home, 24-hour medical care, and the highest quality of rehabilitiation for broken and discarded children. The children at My House are in DFCS custody, having been abandoned by, or taken from, their birth families. Generally speaking, the cause for most kids there currently is gross physical abuse.

The children who have the greatest medical needs are not well-served by a state system that can barely keep up with the healthy ones, let alone those who need hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of specialized care and 24-hour nursing assistance.

In my fourteen year association with My House, I have seen battered and neglected children given a second chance at the lives they deserve to live. And they need your help. It costs roughly $30,000 per month above and beyond the per diem they receive for each child they care for. Earlier this year, My House weathered a financial crisis and is steadier but still rebuilding their fundraising and volunteer base.

So the greatest gift you could give me this Christmas is to open your wallet, get out your credit or debit card, and make an online donation right now. If you’ve been blessed and can afford it, please consider signing up for a monthly recurring donation. Any amount will help, as a donor has generously agreed to pay all the credit card processing fees from online donations. That helps your five-dollar donation go further.

Peachtree Road Christmas

We are blessed to worship at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church, which has for years been a strong supporter of My House. It’s a beautiful church, especially when decorated for Christmas, but the beauty of our sanctuary is secondary to our year-round mission.

While the public spaces are beautiful, far more impressive are the ground floor rooms that are filled with brand new winter coats and Christmas toys in preparation for Christmas Kindness, open from December 7th through the 11th.

Christmas Kindness is when we open a store for underprivileged members of our community to shop for gifts. Each client we serve is given a personal shopper who helps them choose gifts for each member of their family along with Christmas treats and the respect that every individual deserves. There is no better Christmas gift you can give yourself than helping someone else make a blessed Christmas for their children.

If you’re in Atlanta and have some free time and would like to help, email me and I’ll put you in touch.

Runoff Elections tomorrow

Tuesday, December 3d holds runoff elections in a couple of state legislative districts, and local races.

In the runoff for Senate District 14, Bruce Thompson is the adult in the race and we encourage everyone who is eligible to go vote for him tomorrow.

State Rep. Scot Turner (R-Cherokee) has endorsed and gone door-to-door with Bruce Thompson, supporting him in the runoff election.

Bruce Thompson Chuck Hufstetler

Bruce has also received support from State Senator Chuck Hufstetler, who joined him on the campaign trail, knocking on doors yesterday.Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for November 27, 2013

Happy Hannukah

Tonight begins the eight-day Hannukah festival for our Jewish friends and family. Happy Hannukah. I think I’m going to head over to Bagel Palace today.

Cobb County Commission approves Braves Stadium

The vote was 4-1 with Commissioner Lisa Cupid the only dissenting vote. Chairman Tim Lee joined Commissioners Bob Ott, Helen Goreham, and JoAnn Birrell in favor. To me, the most surprising thing was the ability of people who are otherwise conservative Republicans to suspend everything we know about government in the rush to pass the stadium financing. It will come back to bite at least one of the Commissioners who voted for the financing.

As a conservative, I believe that government is a poor tool to use for just about anything except building roads and defending the nation. My objection to Obamacare is not that I don’t want everyone to have affordable health care, but that the government is a tragically-bad vehicle for providing it. Likewise, the Braves stadium. I suspect that over the coming years, the costs, both in terms of taxation and quality of life for areas surrounding the stadium will be greater than anticipated, and the “extension” of a property tax surcharge will come to be seen as the property tax increase it is.

But as a conservative, I also believe in the right of people to raise their own taxes and spend the money on things with which I disagree. Here are the most interesting quotes I’ve seen. From the Marietta Daily Journal article:

“It gives us progressive things but not only for presently now but for the future,” said Don Wilson of Marietta, District 11 chairman for Democratic Party of Georgia.

atricia Hay, of Mableton, urged commissioners to delay a vote for at least 60 days.
“This deal is happening too fast. It’s been two weeks, and we spent two years discussing whether or not we could have chickens in the back yards,” Hay said, receiving applause referring to heated conversations the county had about whether or not Cobb is an appropriate place for farm animals.

Dr. Bill Hudson, a retired dentist and former board member of the Georgia Tea Party, accused the majority Republican commission of being “country club Republicans.”

All members of the commission are Republicans with the exception of Cupid, southwest Cobb commissioner who opposed Tuesday’s Braves vote.

“Chamber of Commerce Republicans are very different from conservatives,” Hudson said, pointing to the pro-business nonprofit that has lobbied in favor of the deal from the beginning.

And from a separate story in the MDJ:

[Commissioner Lisa] Cupid said it wasn’t that she opposed the Braves moving to Cobb County, but that she was being asked to make a decision much too quickly given the size and complexity of the deal.

“I just have a very difficult time reasoning through the rush when we spend more time speaking about zoning matters that impact a fraction, a minute fraction of the public than what the stadium will impact, and we can delay and delay to make sure we don’t have enough houses in a particular subdivision, or that people don’t have to look at a certain thing in somebody else’s backyard, and we can’t delay this vote?” Cupid said. “It frightens me, to be honest, the number of threats I’ve received. If you want a 5-0 vote, you could have gotten it, it could have been easy, but I will not ever be bullied into sacrificing my commitment to the people that put me into this position.”

Commissioner Bob Ott said he reviewed the information over the last few weeks and was satisfied.

“At this time I do not think that a 60-day delay (is needed); there is no more information that needs to be put out there about what we have to vote on,” Ott said.

Debbie Dooley wrote on Facebook that at least two candidates will challenge Commissioner Helen Goreham when she is next up for election. The candidate she named is Neva Lent, President of Cobb Regional Republican Women.

Phil Kent on Sandy Springs Runoff Election December 3d

Phil Kent sends his thoughts on the runoff election for Sandy Springs City Council District 6.

The lone Dec. 3 runoff for Sandy Springs City Council is heating up in District 6 between candidates Andy Bauman and John Stoj. Bauman, in a recent email, blasts “the partisan politics of my opponent” and piously pledges to run a “positive campaign.”

The problem for Bauman? Several prominent GOP legislators including state Sens. Hunter Hill and Judson Hill have endorsed Stoj (Pronounced “Stoy”) because their man proudly notes that he is philosophically a Republican who believes in fiscal conservatism. Isn’t that helpful information to voters who are studying the candidates?

Yet it is too much for Bauman,  especially since a Stoj mailer revealed that Bauman voted for a Democrat in the Feb. 5 2008 presidential primary– either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama!. So Bauman continues to whine that Stoj is engaging in “partisanship” and that, by contrast, he is running a “positive” campaign.

A thought: District 6 (full disclosure: I live there) is a predominantly Republican area– so, in fact, is Sandy Springs. So why is it somehow “negative” for Stoj to simply point out he is– gasp!– a Republican?. Why doesn’t Bauman just say he is a Republican, too? Well, could it be because he isn’t one?

Let’s hope the District doesn’t elect a crypto-Democrat and thus give them a foothold on the Sandy Springs City Council.

Senator George Hooks joins RTA Strategy Group

Our friends at RTA Strategy Group send along the following news:

RTA Strategy, a political management group founded by the former Executive Secretary of the Georgia Ethics Commission, Rick Thompson, announces a partnership with former Georgia State Senator and Board of Regent, George Hooks.

“Since my arrival in Georgia almost a decade ago, Senator Hooks has been a confident, reliable voice of wisdom to me; from my time as a regulator through private practice. I’m honored to have the Senator as a strategic partner in our firm,” says Rick Thompson, RTA’s founder and President. “Senator Hooks is transitioning from lawmaker and Regent to advocate, and RTA is fortunate to be in a position to collaborate with him on strategic client matters,” Thompson adds.

George Hooks, a lifelong Democrat, served five terms in the Georgia House of Representatives from 1980 to 1990. In 1991 then Representative Hooks was elected to Georgia’s 14th District Senate seat, the seat held by former President Jimmy Carter, where he served until his resignation in January 2013. Governor Nathan Deal appointed Hooks to the Georgia Board of Regents after his retirement from the post as Dean of the Senate. The former Senator announced he was stepping down from the Regent post last month citing his “lifelong passion involving historic preservation.”

Jason Boles, Partner and Chief Operating Officer, stated, “Senator Hooks will serve in an official capacity here as Senior Government Affairs Advisor. We are tremendously excited to have his insight. He will further improve the value to existing clients and will open the door to untapped relationships.” Hooks will be lobbying for his own firm as well. “We recognize Senator Hooks’ priority is lobbying for historic preservation measures and that Americus is his base of operations and home. We appreciate that he will be involved and are excited to see him around our office,” adds Boles.

Organized in 2009, RTA Strategy/ R. Thompson & Associates is a political management group providing an array of strategic enterprise services to candidates, campaigns, lobbyist, PACs and corporations. The cornerstone of its services is disclosure-reporting consultation.

Paul Broun claims Georgia Right to Life endorsement

Congressman Paul Broun sent an email claiming that he is endorsed by Georgia Right to Life in his campaign for United States Senate. I say “claiming” not because I have any reason to doubt it, but I consider such statements to be unverified claims until I see the statement by Georgia Right to Life PAC on their own website.

If you are a Pro-Life voter in Senate District 14, House District 104 or the City of Canton, check out the Georgia Right to Life PAC endorsements in those elections, and for goodness’ sake, in any case, go vote today!

From Monday’s Congressional Hearing in Gainesville

Woodall Collins Kingston Jack Kingston on Committee2

From “Your Honor” to “the inmate”

Former Crawford County Chief Magistrate Andrea Peterman was sentenced to ten years probation and 160-180 days to serve in state custody.

In a plea deal, Peterman agreed to plead guilty to a count of fiduciary theft from Crawford County Probate Court and a count of violating her oath of office as the county’s elected chief magistrate judge.

As part of the plea agreement, Cooke agreed not to prosecute a charge that Peterman stole from Magistrate Court. Cooke told reporters she took money multiple times from each of the courts and typically tried to pay it back on payday. That’s not legal.

“Any time someone involved in public trust violates public trust, they’re going to do time,” Cooke said.

According to the indictment, the Probate Court theft occurred in February 2012.

Other terms of the agreement include paying back $12,717.62 to cover the costs of a forensic audit of Magistrate Court. A Probate Court audit was not performed.

Though now a convicted felon, Peterman also agreed not to seek or hold public office as part of the plea agreement.

She also had agreed not to seek a judicial office in a separate agreement with the Judicial Qualifications Commission.

On the death of Ray Newman

Today at 10 AM, friends and family will gather at Union Baptist Church, 527 Union Church Road in Winder to mark the earthly death of Ray Newman. Ray was a preacher, serving most recently at Macedonia Baptist Church in Oakwood, GA and represented the Georgia Baptist Convention at the state capitol.

Ray Newman was a friend, but above all else I will remember him for living a life that so embodied the Good News that his friends and family rejoice at his passing, assured in the knowledge that Ray joins our Father.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for November 5, 2013

Voting Today 7 AM to 7 PM

Voting will be held today for Mayor and City Council in municipalities across Georgia, as well as a number of SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) referenda and local issues such as bond issues (Marietta) or Sunday Sales of alcohol.

Visit the Secretary of State’s website and use the MVP tool to check your voting information.

Today also happens to be Bob Barr’s birthday. The birthday party is from 5:30 to 7 PM at the Red Hare Brewing Company in Marietta.

Special Election Watch

We will have at least two Special Elections coming up.

In State House District 2, a vacancy has been created by the hiring of Rep. Jay Neal for a job in the Department of Corrections.

Crystal Springs Tarvin

This photo was taken the same day that news of Rep. Neal’s hiring was released, so we assume this means Steve Tarvin, who challenged Neal in 2012, will be a candidate. Facebook posts by Tarvin in the past three hours suggest he’s likely to announce for the seat.

“I will need your help in the District 2 House race, It will get started soon. I need you to get everyone you know on board with us as soon as possible. Private message me if you are willing to help. I will return you message as quickly as I get to them. Thanks”

State House District 22 is also vacant upon the death of State Rep. Calvin Hill, for whom a memorial service is being held today.

Georgia Ranked #1 State for Business

Deal Site Selection Announcement

Photo by Gov. Deal’s Press Office

Governor Nathan Deal held a press conference yesterday to which he invited members of the legislature to join him on the podium to announce that Georgia has been named the #1 state for business in the rankings by Site Selection magazine.

“Making Georgia the premier state in the nation for business has been a strategic goal from day one of my administration,” said Deal. “We have worked hard to stay ahead of the curve and anticipate business needs not only today, but in the future. Achieving this national recognition means we are on the right track and reminds us of the importance of continuing to strive for excellence in all we do.”

“Georgia is a regular top finisher in our annual analysis of state business climates, with five Top Ten placements in the last five years,” said Site Selection Editor in Chief Mark Arend. “Executives at companies investing there regularly point to its many logistics advantages, cutting-edge workforce training programs, particularly Quick Start, and proactive economic developers on the state and local levels who understand the business requirements of today’s capital investors.”

The magazine releases its annual rankings each November, bases its research partially on a survey of corporate real estate executives and in part by an index of tax burden criteria according to the Tax Foundation and KPMG’s Location Matters analysis and the states’ performance in Conway Data’s New Plant Database, which tracks new and expanded business facility activity.

Georgia has ranked among the top 10 states in Site Selection’s business climate rankings over the last 10 years, and moves up from No. 4 last year. The Peach State makes frequent appearances on national “Top 10” lists for business, including No. 2 in Area Development’s 2013 rankings and No. 8 in CNBC’s annual rankings.

“Our top-ranking business climate would not be possible without the efforts of our partners across the state who have long worked to position Georgia as a global economic powerhouse,” said Chris Carr, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “Rankings like these serve as a great calling card for site selectors, and then it’s up to us to follow up and give them deeper insight into our vast resources for business.”

Photo by Gov. Deal's Press Office

Photo by Gov. Deal’s Press Office

Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer released a statement:

ATLANTA (November 4, 2013) – Senate President Pro Tempore David Shafer (R – Duluth) today offered his congratulations on the announcement by Governor Nathan Deal that Georgia has been named the number one state to do business by Site Selection magazine, a prominent national economic development trade publication.

“The best social program has always been a good paying job,” Shafer said. “Our top legislative priority has been to create an environment where business flourishes and business leaders have the confidence to take risks, invest money and create jobs.”

The magazine’s rankings are based on a survey of corporate real estate executives, an index of tax burden criteria according to the Tax Foundation and KPMG’s Location Matters analysis, and performance in Conway Data’s New Plant Database, which tracks new and expanded business facility activity.

“I congratulate the Governor and pledge our continued support for his jobs creation agenda,” Shafer said.

Loeffler not a candidate for Senate 2014

Martha Zoller grabbed the scoop that Kelly Loeffler will not be a candidate for United States Senate in 2014.

The bottom line is the closing for her company’s deal for the stock exchange has been delayed again and she feels she can’t navigate that and run for office effectively, so she’s deferring, for now. Loeffler won’t be running in 2014, but she will be a force to be reckoned with in the Republican Party of Georgia as they seek to maintain their majority and become a more diverse party.  She’s already shown she can raise money and candidates will be vying for her support.


Votes I would cast today

Today, I won’t be voting because none of the incumbents on Brookhaven City Council are being challenged, but if I lived elsewhere, here are the candidates for whom I would be voting.

Senate District 14 – Bruce Thompson – I’ve already voted for Bruce before, as he was the winning candidate for the Republican Leadership for Georgia 2013 Class Vice President. I personally know him to be a man of integrity, a strong conservative and family man, and the kind of successful businessperson whose leadership will help Georgia retain our top ranking for business. He has my highest personal endorsement. Additionally, he is the only candidate in the race endorsed by Georgia Right to Life PAC, and he is also endorsed by Senator Josh McKoon.

One of Thompson’s opponents, Matt Laughridge, should be rejected by the voters of Senate District 14 because his campaign advertising has shown his character and truthfulness lacking.

Sandy Springs City Council – Gabriel Sterling – Despite more than 20 years in the political trenches, Gabriel has not lost his sense of community service. If anything, that experience allows him to know that there is no glory in serving on a City Council, only sacrifice and hard work. He is a credit to the voters who have elected him in the past and will continue to make them proud. My highest personal endorsement.

For Johns Creek Mayor – Bev Miller – for City Council Randall Johnson and Karen Richardson. The allegations against Mayor Mike Bodker are damning enough, but his Nixon-esque dodging, stonewalling and systematic evasion of the Open Records Act make him unfit for office. If an elected official uses a personal cell phone to conduct public business, the records for that cell phone become susceptible to Open Records Act disclosure.

Under the Open Records Act §51-8-70(b)

(2) ‘Public record’ means all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, computer based or generated information, data, data fields, or similar material prepared and maintained or received by an agency or by a private person or entity in the performance of a service or function for or on behalf of an agency or when such documents have been transferred to a private person or entity by an agency for storage or future governmental use.
Mayor of Warner Robins – Chuck Chalk – I like Chalk mainly because his campaign has shown an innovative approach to problem-solving, which bodes well for how he would serve as Mayor. This is his campaign’s finest moment:
That’s a consumer-grade flat-screen television running a PowerPoint presentation and powered by a generator. Someone who comes up with this idea will come up with great, money-saving ideas as Mayor.
[Disclaimer: The three candidates in Johns Creek and Chuck Chalk either are currently or have been clients of my political consulting practice. I do not work for people I wouldn’t vote for.]

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for September 3, 2013

Americans for Prosperity Defending the Dream 2013

This weekend I attended the AFP Defending the Dream and RightOnline conferences in Orlando and will be discussing them a little bit this week.

I’d say the best-received of the politicians who spoke in the main sessions was Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). Here’s an excerpt of the section of his speech dealing with defunding ObamaCare.

This Saturday, AFP Georgia will hold their 2013 Metro Atlanta Georgia Freedom Conference including sessions on Surviving Obamacare and Fighting Common Core. I’ll be attending at least part of the conference and hope you can make it too.

What I learned about Facebook at RightOnline

For me, the best of the breakout sessions was called “Building Your Clout: Upping Your Social Media Impact,” and featured speakers from Facebook and a digital political consulting firm.

rsz_img_4844Facebook had some nifty giveaways, and I grabbed a set for a lucky reader. Simply “Like” Doug Everett’s PSC reelection page on Facebook and I’ll send the goodies to one person from that page on Friday.

Doug Everett PSC GaPundit FB BannerHere are two interesting facts I learned about social media this weekend.

First, Facebook now has more users on mobile devices than on desktops. So if Facebook is important to your business, organizations, or campaign, give some thought to how mobile users are experiencing your page, posts, and videos, and make sure it’s useful for mobile users too.

Second, on Facebook, only a percentages of your friends and followers will see any given post. This doesn’t mean that the answer is to triple the amount you post on Facebook. Rather, understand that how many of your posts your friends and followers will see depends on the level of interaction they have with your posts. The more people like or comment on your posts, the more likely they are to be seen by more people. And when someone interacts with you on Facebook, by commenting on a post, for instance, the more likely that individual is to see your posts.

From this perspective, is appears that the most interesting thing I do on Facebook is eating at The Varsity.

Georgia Pols may change fundraising rules

Leadership in both the State Senate and House indicated they may be open to changing the rules on campaign fundraising while the legislature is in session. The impetus for changing the ban on session-fundraising comes from the prospective shift of primary elections to May 20, closer to the session than ever before. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, said he expects nearly unanimous support from lawmakers for moving the state primaries up to May 20, too. And he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he supported “having a vigorous discussion” about the ban because, with the changes to the elections calendar, “the whole landscape changes.”

State law says no elected state official — including legislators, the governor and others who face statewide election — may raise money while the General Assembly is in session starting in January. That includes legislators running for Congress.

In normal years, that has led to a rush of fundraising by incumbents immediately before and immediately after the session, which lasts up to 40 non-consecutive days. Moving state primaries from July to May 20 would severely limit incumbents’ time to solicit contributions.

Ralston would not rule out also extending the ban on fundraising to challengers.

“There’s a fairness argument there,” he said. “I’m not prepared to say I support it, but it looks different under the primary calendar.”

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who presides over the Senate, framed the anticipated discussion as a way to improve Georgia’s ethics laws and strengthen public trust in government.

Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer, R-Duluth, called the ban “sound public policy,” and said “all candidates, whether they are incumbents or not, would benefit from a ‘cooling off period’ during which the focus is on issues, ideas and talking directly with voters, not endless fundraising.”

Contrary to what the writers of the AJC article state, the state ban on legislators raising funds to run for federal office does not in fact limit the ability of state legislators to raise money for a federal campaign while the General Assembly is in session. A 1996 decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that state law could not ban fundraising for a federal campaign because federal law preempts state law.

Some qualified to run for office, others not so much

One of the most interesting campaign qualifications last week was Mary Norwood qualifying to run for City Council. In 2009, Norwood ran against Kasim Reed for Mayor of Atlanta and lost the runoff by 700 votes; now her sights are on incumbent City Council member Aaron Watson in Post 2, which is elected at-large.

It will be interesting to see if and how Norwood’s appointment by the Fulton County Republican Party to the county elections board is framed by both Norwood and her opponent.

Pablo Picazo was booted from the ballot after he failed to collect enough signatures to turn in with his Pauper’s Affidavit, which if accepted would have allowed him to qualify for Gainesville City Council without paying the usual fee. From the Gainesville Times.

Pablo Picazo, a student, filed to run for Ward 1 as a pauper, meaning he needed 110 signatures from qualified and registered voters in the city. He got 146 signatures, but Hall County Elections Director Charlotte Sosebee said only 65 could be verified.

Pro-tip: if you’re collecting signatures to get yourself or a referendum on the ballot, aim for at least twice as many signatures as are required. Historically, large numbers of signatures collected for candidacies and ballot measures are found invalid by the local elections offices, which must verify that each accepted signature represents a qualified voter in the district in question, as well as that some other paperwork rules were followed. Even if Pablo Picaso had gotten twice as many as needed here, he would have fallen short, as less than 45% of his signatures were accepted as valid.

Also filed under pro-tips: generally speaking, you have to actually live and be registered to vote in the district you seek to represent, unless you’re running for United States Congress. From the same Gainesville Times article:

Albert Reeves did not qualify for Ward 4 because the Elections Office determined he was not a registered and qualified voter in the city of Gainesville, something required under the city charter.

Dems elect DuBose Porter as state party Chair

The Democratic Party of Georgia elected this weekend former State Rep. and failed 2010 Gubernatorial candidate DuBose Porter as their new state party chair. In the State House, Porter introduced legislation to return the 1956 Georgia flag, featuring the Confederate flag prominently, over the State Capitol twice each year, and voted twice to ban gay marriage in Georgia. Neither of those facts appear to have been touted during his candidacy for Chair.

Tea Party at the Georgia State Capitol today

This morning at 9:30, leaders of Tea Party Patriots are holding an Exempt America from Obamacare rally and press conference at the Gold Dome. Among the speakers will be ea Party Patriots founder Jenny Beth Martin, Media Research Center’s Brent Bozell, Atlanta Tea Party Co-Chair Debbie Dooley, and Atlanta Tea Party Co-Chair and Georgia Republican Assembly President Julianne Thompson.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for May 22, 2003

Election Law Update

United States District Judge Timothy Batten, Sr. found that at-large voting for Fayette County Commission seats violates the voting rights act and struck down the voting plan, asking the County to present a remedial plan for this year’s elections by June 25th.


Batten’s Tuesday order grants summary judgment to the individual plaintiffs in the case along with the state conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, who had argued that the county’s district voting process precluded black candidates from winning a seat on the county commission and board of education.

The judge’s order grants the plaintiff’s wish to create a district voting scenario, which is markedly different than the current at-large voting process. Currently, all Fayette voters are allowed to vote on all five seats on the county commission and board of education.

Under district voting, voters will be limited to choosing just one person for each governing body, depending on where each voter lives.

In his order, Batten determined that the current at-large voting process “essentially guarantees that no African-American will be elected to either board.”

Whether the plan submitted by the County will include a majority-minority district is unclear, according to the AJC.

[Fayette County Commission Chair Steve] Brown said [Judge] Batten conceded in his ruling that he would be hard-pressed to create a majority-minority district — a point the county’s own demographers said would be hard to achieve. At best, a district would yield 47 percent minority voting power, Brown said.

“He (Batten) literally admitted in the opinion that he could not come up with a majority-minority district. It was kind of odd because it’s very clear what you need to prove to show that you have any kind of discriminatory activity. That was never proven.”

Getting rid of at-large voting is by-and-large a cleanup operation now, dealing with individual situations where it remains. Bigger changes to Georgia’s voting laws may be on the way from another federal District Court, where Judge Steve C. Jones has found that Georgia’s runoff elections violate the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act of 1986 (“UOCAVA”).

The Court found that Georgia cannot comply with the UOCAVA requirement that ballots be transmitted to overseas voters at least 45 days to a federal election

The forty-five day deadline and transmittal period established in the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act of 1986 (“UOCAVA”), as amended, specifically 42 U.S.C. § 1973ff-1(a)(8)(A), applies to all federal runoff elections.

The additional requirement for runoff elections set forth in § 1973ff-1(a)(9) does not alter the forty-five day deadline established for runoff elections in § 1973ff-1(a)(8).

Defendants’ inability under Georgia’s current electoral system to transmit absentee ballots (that standing alone allow the voter to cast a meaningful vote) in future federal runoff elections to qualified military and overseas voters (i.e., UOCAVA voters) who have requested them by the forty-fifth day before such an election violates § 1973ff-1(a)(8)(A) of UOCAVA.

As to the matter of relief, the Court rules as follows. Within twenty days (20) of the issuance of this order, Defendants shall confer with Plaintiff and thereafter submit to the Court written proposed changes to Georgia’s election laws that show full compliance with UOCAVA as to all future federal runoff elections.

Plaintiff shall file a response within twenty (20) days of Defendants’ filing. In the event that the Defendants fail to present a proposal that fully complies with all UOCAVA requirements, the Court will order an appropriate remedy that will govern all of Georgia’s future runoff elections unless and until there is an enactment of changes to Georgia’s election laws that fully comply with all UOCAVA requirements, as determined by this Court.

So what does this mean? Very likely the end of runoff elections as we know them in Georgia, at least as far as federal elections are concerned. Whether we end up with a longer runoff period, or dispense with the greatest invention in political consulting democracy remains to be seen. It is possible that the state will retain the current runoff election structure for state elections, but it’s also possible that a federal court will end up deciding what some future elections look like in the Peach State.

Continue Reading..


Political Consultant Brian Laurens lied


So childish baby-faced Political Consultant Brian Laurens has accused me of breaking the telecommunications laws and falsely using his Caller ID in making robocalls against Senator Chip Rogers. Brian Laurens is the owner of Brikel Communications/Laurens Direct Mail and he’s threatening to use my cell phone number the same way.

Let me go on the record saying I did not do those calls and was not engaged by Brandon Beach’s campaign to do any robocalls until after they were made. I will stake my professional reputation on this and am calling on Brian Laurens to retract his statement and apologize.

I wrote about the robocalls on July 25th of this year. Note that date, it’ll be important soon.

Brian Laurens, a political consultant to Senator Rogers, accuses Beach of sending out robocalls and transmitting Laurens’s cell phone number as the Caller ID number.

I quoted an article in the Cherokee Tribune that quoted Brian Laurens about the alleged robocalls:

A Holly Springs political consultant who works for Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) is accusing Senate District 21 challenger Brandon Beach of pirating his number and using it to make robo calls on Sunday.

Beach on Monday said his campaign had nothing to do with the robo call and labeled the calls as dirty politics as usual.

Brian Laurens, owner of Brikel Communications and Consulting, is accusing Beach of using his cell phone number to call voters.

Laurens said he discovered the alleged robo calls were made when he returned home from church on Sunday.

The Holly Springs resident said the calls began to pour in around 2 p.m. and went through 8 p.m. Sunday.

“The call said something about Chip Rogers being for the TSPLOST and voting for it and was portrayed as coming from a registered LLC, (the) Grassroots Conservatives of Cherokee County,” he said.

But there are a couple of holes in Brian Laurens‘s story.

Brian says he knows that I did the robocalls in question because Brandon Beach’s disclosure with the Georgia Campaign Finance Commission shows that I did some calls for Beach in his Senate campaign against Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, who is a client of Brian Laurens and Brikel Communications.

Sure enough, there’s my company on Beach’s disclosure for a payment received 9/26/2012 for Automated Calls. I surely did do some calls for Brandon Beach. I don’t deny it. But I do deny doing the calls that Brian Laurens complained about on July 25th, and I deny ever having falsely used somebody else’s Caller ID to put out robocalls in any election campaign ever. Note that date: July 25th.

Washington Political Group, another Georgia company that does robocalls is also on that disclosure for payments as follows:

7/13/2012 $14,032.56
7/16/2012 $13,924.18
7/18/2012 $16,191.58
7/26/2012 $15,908.72
8/06/2012 $2358.59

Washington Political Group also appears on Beach’s earlier disclosure for payments of:

5/21/2012 $10,650.00
6/25/2012 $10,876.89

So that’s more than $80,000 that Beach’s campaign paid to Washington Political Group, who is known to do robocalls. I’m not saying that they did the calls; doing so presents several problems. First, it assumes that Brian Laurens was telling the truth when he complained about the anonymous robocalls. Second, it assumes that Brandon Beach’s campaign did the phone calls, and there is no evidence to that effect. Third, it assumes that Beach’s campaign would be stupid enough to pay for illegal robocalls breaking federal law, but then would comply with Georgia law in order to disclose the payment. Pretty goofy, if you ask me.

Also problematic for Brian Laurens’s claim is the fact that the payment to my company was made two months after the calls he claims went out. If Brandon Beach’s campaign were breaking federal law by transmitting fraudulent Caller ID information, they would have been required to disclose it before the date of any calls I did for them.

But let’s deal with that first issue: whether Brian Laurens can be trusted to tell the truth when it comes to politics. Or whether in fact, Brian Laurens has a documented history of lying about politics. This is really Brian’s problem: his reputation in Georgia politics.

People have asked whether Brian Laurens is truthful or a liar in the political arena before. We’ll be discussing that over the coming days.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 17, 2012

This young female English Setter mix might be a great bird dog. She might also be a couch potato. Either way, she’s available for adoption today from Gwinnett County Animal Shelter. Her ID is 26571 and she is located in pen 139.

This puppy is described as a baby lab, but I’ve never seen a lab with markings like those. She is a large, playful and friendly puppy with ID #26454 and is in pen 214, waiting at Gwinnett County Animal Shelter for her new home and family.

I’d already compiled this morning’s featured dogs when I saw this photo and couldn’t resist. She is a young Siberian Husky available for adoption today from Gwinnett County Animal Shelter. Large and friendly, she was surrendered by her owner and does not like cats.

GPB has the first of a three-part series of advice and stories about adopting dogs.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Former State Rep. Johnny Floyd of Cordele, who switched parties to become a Republican in 2006, has been elected Chairman of the Georgia Department of Transportation Board. Former State Rep. Jay Shaw was elected Vice Chair.

State Senator Don Balfour settled a complaint by the Senate Ethics Committee alleging the Rules Committee Chairman submitted inaccurate reimbursement claims.

The committee concluded that “Sen. Balfour failed to maintain accurate records of his travel and consequently submitted inaccurate vouchers to the Legislative Fiscal Office,” according to its report, which was released late Thursday afternoon.

Veteran lawmakers said it was the first time the Senate Ethics Committee voted to punish one of the chamber’s members.

Balfour, chairman of the Rules Committee, was accused of billing the state for mileage while out of town on lobbyist-funded trips, and for failing to create a subcommittee to audit all senators’ reimbursement vouchers.

On Thursday, Balfour acknowledged making “some inadvertent mistakes and I’ve said that all along” and admitted he had not created an audit subcommittee — but neither had previous chairmen. He did not speak to reporters after the report was released.

Balfour has subsequently amended his reimbursements and will repay $350 to the state plus a $5000 fine. His chairmanship presumably will be subject to the Committee on Assignments.

Senator Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) was not amused.

“While I strongly agree with the Committee’s determination of guilt, I disagree with the penalty, which will not deter future serious breaches of Georgia law and is not as strong as penalties imposed when similar offenses have been committed in the past.”

“I will be preparing a minority report in the days to come which I will forward on to appropriate parties for consideration which will address these matters in much greater detail. Suffice it to say that the action taken today, in my opinion, further undermines public confidence in state government and reinforces the anything goes culture at the Capitol.”

Also not amused? Debbie Dooley, who I would argue is the most influential woman in Georgia politics at the moment.

Dooley called the penalties “a slap on the wrist” agreed to in a “backroom deal.”

“The attitude of the voters and the grass roots is that the Senate chamber is a good old boy network that actually takes care of their own and covers for their own,” she said.

The committee, Dooley said, is “rubber-stamping unethical behavior from Sen. Balfour.”

Dooley vowed to press Attorney General Sam Olens and Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard to investigate Balfour’s actions.

She said her organization also will pressure Senate leaders to strip Balfour of his committee chairmanship. The Rules Committee decides which bills make it to the Senate floor, and as chairman, Balfour has great power to influence those decisions.

Richmond County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Scott Peebles and County School System Public Safety Lt. Richard Roundtree will meet in the runoff for Sheriff on Tuesday.

Manure has become the metaphor of choice in the 12th Congressional District Republican Primary Runoff between State Rep. Lee Anderson and Rick Allen. Lee Anderson hit the air with an ad accusing Rick Allen of bringing out the manure spreader and visuals of Rick Allen getting what is presumably manure flung on his face.

Now, the Augusta Chronicle suggests that Anderson is mailing out the manure himself.

Mud – or in Grovetown state Rep. Lee Anderson’s case – manure – continues to fly in the 12th Congressional District race as Tuesday’s Republican primary runoff between Anderson and Augusta businessman Rick W. Allen grows closer.

A mailer from Lee Anderson for Congress goes too far in accusing Allen of contributing money to incumbent Democrat John Barrow, said Allen’s campaign manager, Scott Paradise.

“It’s a flat-out lie,” Paradise said. “This piece is a last-minute piece, and maybe they thought ‘let’s send it out and hope we don’t get caught.’ But they slipped up.”

I’ve got to wonder what the robocalls sound like in that campaign.

Also going negative in the runoff are State Senator Miriam Paris and her opponent David Lucas.

During a news conference Thursday, Lucas addressed a controversial campaign mailer that featured an unflattering picture of the former state representative who appears to be yawning. The mailer goes onto to say:

“We don’t need a sleeping senator. David Lucas falls asleep on the job. And when he wakes up, he’s a nightmare. David Lucas slept while thousands of jobs left Middle Georgia.”

Now Lucas is firing back. He’s says if anyone has been sleeping on the job it is Paris.

“The senator elect was asleep on the job when they did the consolidation bill that she could not explain,” Lucas said.

The ad was paid for by Georgia Forward, a group that describes itself as independent and non-partisan. Lucas believes that ad was paid for by republicans. He feels that negative campaigning is taking over the race but says he’s not the one behind it.

Both candidates deny negative campaigning.

Murray County Magistrate Judge Bryant Cochran has resigned under investigation by the Judicial Qualifications Commission for pre-signing blank arrest warrants for police officers.

The commission posted on Thursday Cochran’s resignation letter, a letter from Gov. Nathan Deal accepting his resignation and a copy of a consent order signed by Cochran agreeing to resign and to not seek any other elected or appointed judicial office.

A report accompanying those documents, also signed by Cochran, says the commission was investigating whether Cochran “allowed the prestige of his office to advance his private interests” and whether he “pre-signed blank arrest warrants for completion by law enforcement officers while he was absent from the office.”

Cochran was also recently accused of making advances toward a woman before him on methamphetamine charges.

Click Here

A political consulting firm called “Pirouette Companies” continues to cause controversy in the now-settled Fulton County election for State Court Judge.

An ethics complaint filed against Fulton Magistrate Judge Melynee Leftridge in the days before the July 31 primary will be investigated by the Georgia Government Transparency & Campaign Finance Commission to determine if any laws were violated.

The complaint was filed by Charlie Stadtlander, a gay voter. Leftridge faced off against open lesbian Jane Morrison in the non-partisan campaign for the open seat of Fulton State Judge. Morrison won with more than 60 percent of the vote.

Statdlander accused Leftridge in his complaint of an “apparent elaborate scheme to funnel some $18,500 to a company responsible for maintaining a” that features “pictures of scantly clad women.”

But here’s where the Pirouette Companies saga turns into more than just a remnant from a campaign that’s now finished:

Mitzi Bickers, a longtime political operative, said she consults for Piroutte Companies and started working for the company earlier this year.

The company has a youth program that includes teaching dance to young people, but the money Leftridge paid was to Piroutte Companies and not to a dance company, Bickers said.

“We have not done anything unethical,” she said.

Bickers, who is gay, took an unpaid leave of absence from working for Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration in May to work for Pirouette. Records show that Pirouette was paid more than $115,000 by Citizens for Transportation Mobility, which supported TSPLOST. Reed was a strong outspoken supporter of TSPLOST.

“I took an unpaid leave of absence so there would not be any conflict of interest with TSPLOST,” Bickers said.

Ends & Pieces

Atlantan Cassie Mitchell is headed to London to compete in the Paralympics in three wheelchair sports, the 100m and 200m sprint and the discus. I met Cassie when I volunteered at Shepherd Spinal Center with the Quad Rugby Program. She’s an amazing athlete and holds a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Georgia Tech, where she works.

Three members of the US Army marksmanship team who competed in the London Olympics have returned to Fort Benning where they are teaching junior rifle camp.

The Marksmanship Unit sent seven soldiers to the competition at the Royal Artillery Barracks, but Sgt. Vincent Hancock was the only one to strike gold in men’s skeet shooting. He’s on leave preparing for a big welcome home Saturday in Eatonton, Ga.

Sgt. 1st Class Josh Olson, the first active-duty soldier to ever qualify for a Paralympics, is the only member of the Marksmanship Unit left to compete in London. Olson, who lost his right leg after he was wounded in Iraq in 2003, will compete in the 10-meter air rifle Sept. 1 and the mixed 50-meter prone rifle Sept. 4.

As an instructor, [Sgt. 1st Class Eric] Uptagrafft said he’s teaching the 15-17-year-old shooters the basic fundamentals of firing a small bore .22-caliber rifle at a target less than the size of a dime 50 meters away.

“All the things you use to get to the Olympics are the things these kids are going to use hopefully to get there in eight or nine years,” he said.

Students had to apply to earn a spot at the five-day camp. Michael Garner, 16, of Celina, Texas, said it’s exciting to get help from world-class shooters and Olympians.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 27, 2012

Pen 231 at the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter holds this cute Lab mix, who has been misclassified as a “Pibble.” She’s accurately described as playful and friendly.

Tomorrow, a fundraiser will be held for the Society of Humane Friends, who run the spay/neuter clinic at the Gwinnett Animal Shelter and support the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Operation Second Chance Jail Dogs ProgramThe event is Saturday, July 28th from 10 AM to 3 PM at Gwinnett County Animal Control, located at 884 Winder Highway in Lawrenceville, and will feature a raffle, bouncy house for kids, hot dogs, hamburgers, and soft drinks. Saturday is also the last day for discounted adoptions at the Gwinnett Shelter.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Owners of convenience stores tied to illegal gambling have contributed thousands of dollars to the campaigns of Muscogee County District Attorney Julia Slater, Muscogee County Sheriff John T. Darr, Marshal Greg Countryman and Municipal Court Judge Steven D. Smith among other candidates.

The contributions have raised questions as employees and relatives of campaign supporters — and at least one contributor himself — have been ensnared in a broadening Columbus police crackdown on illegal cash payouts from electronic gaming machines.

Businesses raided for alleged gambling since 2008 have given at least $28,000 to local candidates over the past four years, including nearly $10,000 to Slater and about $6,000 to Darr, according to an analysis by the Ledger-Enquirer.

The officeholders said they had not considered returning any contributions after the gambling raids, noting the defendants haven’t been convicted. They insisted they have never given or been asked for preferential treatment in exchange for the contributions.

Atlanta Unfiltered writes that Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers is accused of working on mailings for casinos and phone-handicapping services after he was elected to the General Assembly.

Chris McClurg, soon to be unsuccessful candidate for Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge has been named as the biggest offender for political campaign signs in the rights-of-way.

Gwinnett code enforcement officers said the “biggest offender award” goes to Chris McClurg who is running for superior court judge.

Police said of the 150 illegal signs they picked up, 90 belonged to McClurg.

McClurg also has a voting record that includes 2004 Democratic Primary and Primary Runoff elections, and the 2008 Democratic Presidential Preference Primary.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp ruled that Augusta Juvenile Court Judge Willie Saunders is eligible to run for Superior Court.

A formal challenge to Saunders’ candidacy was filed in May by Augusta attorney Jack Long. Long claimed that Saunders should not be allowed to challenge Chief Superior Court Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet for his seat in the Augusta Circuit because state law bars anyone who has defaulted on tax obligations from holding office.

Kemp, who has the final say in such election challenges, decided to adopt Judge Michael M. Malihi’s July 16 ruling, which said although Saunders owes federal taxes, his plan to pay the IRS under a Chapter 13 bankruptcy settlement meets the standard for a payment plan required by state law.

SOS Kemp also announced that his agency’s website will feature a new elections return tool for the primary elections.

“Our Agency’s new ENR system is a great resource for Georgia voters,” said Kemp.  “Information will be distributed efficiently, be interactive, and be able to be broken down to the precinct level.”

Would-be state Senate candidate Garry Guan has dropped out of the race after his residency challenge. Senator Curt Thompson is now unopposed.

Kemp rejected residency challenges against Republican Carla Roberts in HD 81 and Brooke Siskin in HD 95, in both cases adopting the recommendations of the Administrative Law Judge who took evidence.

Ashley Fielding of the Gainesville Times writes about the Republican Primary in the Ninth Congressional District.

One calls herself a “firebrand.” Another repeats that he’s the only “consistent conservative.” And the third rarely sits down without mentioning the U.S. Constitution.

A seven-month campaign for the Republican nomination to run for the newest U.S. House seat in Georgia, which once drew five Republicans from three counties, culminates Tuesday with just three candidates on the Republican ballot.

Those left are a former state representative from Hall County, a retired principal from White County and a former conservative radio talk show host, also from Hall.

If neither Doug Collins, Roger Fitzpatrick nor Martha Zoller is able to garner more than 50 percent of the votes cast, the two with the most support will face off in an Aug. 21 runoff.

The winner of the election will face Democrat Jody Cooley of Gainesville in November’s general election to represent all or parts of 20 counties in Northeast Georgia in Congress.

Former Governor Zell Miller has endorsed the reelection of state Senator Cecil Staton, according to a website owned by Cecil Staton

Senator Miller said, “Shirley and I have known Catherine and Cecil Staton for many years. I don’t do this frequently, but I feel so strongly about this race that I wanted to let you know that I’m supporting Cecil Staton for re-­‐election. I know a conservative champion when I see one.

Don’t let anyone fool you. Senator Staton is pro-­‐life, pro-­‐family, and pro-­‐business. He is a tax-­‐cutter, a budget-­‐balancer, and a job-­‐creator. We need him to keep fighting for our conservative values under the gold dome. I encourage everyone in the six counties of the 18th district to join me in supporting your Senator-­‐-­‐Cecil Staton.

An ethics campaign finance complaint has been filed against Fulton Magistrate Judge Melynee Leftridge over campaign expenditures. According to the filer of the complain,

“The most troubling of these allegations is an apparent elaborate scheme to funnel campaign contributions to a company responsible for maintaining a website … the Pirouette Dance Company, whose name was changed to Pirouette Company with the Secretary of State in February 2012, currently maintains a website featuring pictures of scantly clad women and a current schedule of dates and fees,” [complainant Charlie] Statdlander said in a statement.

Other clients of Pirouette include DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis, Democratic State Rep. Pat Gardner, State House candidate Ronnie Mabra, Gail Davenport, DeKalb County State Court Judge Dax Lopez, and Citizens for Transportation Mobility. Sound like a legitimate political consulting practice to me, but that does give me some ideas for my website.

Chuck Eaton, running for reelection to the Public Service Commission, is supported by Charlie Harper, editor of Peach Pundit.

Much of the decisions that the PSC makes are handcuffed by Georgia law and an increasing appetite for  the General Assembly to regulate utilities via every more friendly regulations codified as state law.  Senate Bill 31 continues to resonate as an example, with the legislature, not the PSC, deciding to pre-fund Georgia Power’s return on investment for two new nuclear reactors at plant Vogtle.

One of Chuck Eaton’s strong points is that he is intellectually curious.  He is a person who is willing to admit he doesn’t have all of the answers, and solicits opinions regularly on topics that interest him.

He has a keen grasp on the various risks associated with coal as the EPA continues to push coal powered electric plants toward extinction.  He understands that while natural gas prices are at historic lows right now, the history of the fuel is one of price volatility which could lead to wide variances in power costs.  He understands that nuclear is cheap once the power plants are operational, but getting a plant built after 30 years since the last plant was built will present unique challenges.

Eaton prefers a balanced approach, with Georgia not putting all eggs in one basket.  He’s generally pragmatic about the needs of the state, and balances the needs of Georgians with the requirements that those the PSC regulates are entitled to earn a profit as defined in state law.

While not someone I always agree with, Eaton is someone who can explain and is willing to defend his positions based on fact and underlying law.  That’s a rarity in politics.

In short, I trust him.  That’s also rare.  He’s an incumbent that gets my vote.  That’s getting more rare.

Eaton is also supported by Governor Nathan Deal, Congressman Tom Graves, Attorney General Sam Olens, and numerous other Republicans.

T-SPLOST opponents outnumbered supporters at a debate over the sales tax hike last night at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center.

Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, said her displeasure with the proposal came last year when the toll lanes were activated along Interstate 85. She said her inquiries into the issue, which actually increased congestion, caused her to realize the problem with the bureaucracy.

And, as far as the project list is concerned, she added that a proposal to convert Gravel Springs Road to an interchange angered her Buford constituents.

While debates in the Legislature lingered for years before the current Transportation Investment Act was adopted, Unterman said leaders would be anxious to take on the issue again in January if voters say no to the proposal.

“That’s the risk,” she said of politics intervening in the Legislature, “but I still say that risk is better than dumping billions of dollars into a system that is not working.”

Also in Gwinnett, T-SPLOST opponents are questioning whether county funds are being used to support the T-SPLOST.

Partnership Gwinnett, funded by businesses and government agencies, has won national acclaim for efforts to attract jobs to metro Atlanta. But on Thursday citizens groups questioned whether taxpayers are getting their money’s worth.

They also were skeptical of claims the Chamber of Commerce hasn’t used public money to support the transportation sales tax measure on Tuesday’s ballot.

Some Hispanic leaders joined Mayor Kasim Reed in supporting the T-SPLOST; a group called “Georgia Hispanic Republicans” are unanimously opposed to T-SPLOST. Make of it what you will.

The American Communist Lawyers Civil Liberties Union seeks to intervene in a lawsuit over Sumter County Board of Education district lines.

The Georgia Ports Authority is seeking to intervene in the federal lawsuit challenging the dredging of the Savannah River to improve access to the Port of Savannah.

The Georgia Ports Authority wants to intervene in a federal lawsuit challenging the $650 million deepening of the Savannah River shipping channel saying its contractual and economic interests are at risk.

The authority also asked a judge to block South Carolina’s Savannah River Maritime Commission from entering the suit, saying that would expand the action and simply bring in extraneous issues.

The authority wants the river shipping channel deepened to handle larger ships that will be routinely calling when the Panama Canal is deepened in 2014. It filed the motions on Wednesday and U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel on Thursday gave the other parties in the case until Aug. 6 to respond.

The lawsuit filed by environmental groups contends the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers needs a South Carolina pollution permit before the deepening work can begin. The suit alleges toxic cadmium from river silt will be dumped in a dredge spoils area on the South Carolina side of the river.

The suit was brought by the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of the Savannah Riverkeeper, based in Augusta, Ga., as well as the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League and the South Carolina Wildlife Federation.

Forsyth County Elections

Senate district 27 pits Republican Senator Jack Murphy against Forsyth County Tea Party  founder Steve Voshall.

House district 26 is a contest between formers: former State Rep. Tom Knox and former Florida Marlins pitcher Geoff Duncan.

Walker Bramblett, the incumbent Chief Magistrate Judge meets former Chief Magistrate Barbara Cole. In 2008, Cole stepped down as she did not meet then-new requirements for years as a member of the State bar, but she now has enough time as a lawyer to mount a comeback.

The race for County Coroner features a retired medical examiner, a funeral director and a nurse, seeking to succeed Lauren McDonald, who is running for Sheriff.

The Republican primary for County Commission District 2 will decide whether incumbent Brian Tam or one of his challengers, Dennis Brown and Scott Padis, take a seat on the Commission, as no Democrat is running.

County Commission District 4 will also be decided in the Republican primary between incumbent Patrick Bell, and challengers Tim Hubbard, Charles Meagher, Cindy J. Mills and Bill Mulrooney.

One of those candidates for District 4, Cindy Mills, had an ethics complaint filed against her because she failed to list her role as an officer in the Forsyth County Parks Foundation on her Personal Financial Disclosure. She amended her PFD that day.

Holly LaBerge, spokeswoman for the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, said the complaint will not be pursued until after the July 31 election.

“If it was filed within 30 days of an election, we can’t do anything with it until the election is over by law,” LaBerge said.

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State Rep. Mark Hamilton (R-Forsyth) was appointed chair of the Jekyll Island State Park Oversight Committee, on which he currently serves as a member. Tough duty.

A former Forsyth County deputy who was terminated during his probationary period claims his firing was because he posted on Facebook that he supports Duane Piper, who is challenging Sheriff Ted Paxton in the Republican Primary.

Ends & Pieces

Rocky Creek Solar Farm in Upson County is the first facility of its type in Georgia, and is now producing up to 1 megawatt, enough to power 300 homes. Georgia Power purchases electricity produced at the facility, with an additional 18 megawatts under development.

Effingham County Sheriff’s Office took second place in its division in a national law enforcement highway safety challenge.

Rome-based Bubba will compete in dock diving at the Summer at the Rocks event in Stone Mountain this weekend. The event runs today through Sunday. Bubba is a four-year old chocolate Lab who enjoys food, licking himself, and belly rubs.

Model High School in Rome is holding it’s annual band camp. This is not a one time occurence, but annual.