Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 11, 2014


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 11, 2014

Coming Soon – GaPundit Pro App for iPhone/iPad 2.0 and for Android

The elves in the workshop are working on developing Version 2.0 of our iPhone/iPad app and the first-ever Android version. It combines a cool directory of your State Senators and Representatives with tools to help get in touch with them, and delivery of the latest political news right to your smartphone.

We’re committed to keeping the free version available for our readers, and we have sponsorship opportunities to help keep it free – email me if you’re interested in sponsoring our App. It’s great for political junkies and professionals alike, as well as associations with active memberships who are involved in the political process.

We’re also interested in hearing what kind of features you’d like to see integrated into the latest version of Georgia’s Power Tool for Politics.

Georgia and American History

On December 11, 1777, during their movement to Valley Forge for the winter, Washington’s colonial forces engaged British troops under General Cornwallis as the Americans were crossing the Schuylkill River.

Indiana became the 19th State on December 11, 1816.

Governor Charles McDonald signed legislation on December 11, 1841 to prevent a person from having his or her testimony excluded in court because of the individual’s religious beliefs.

The first use of nitrous oxide as a dental anesthetic took place on December 11, 1844.

On December 11, 1872, Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback took office in Louisiana as the first black Governor in the United States.

A memorial service for Jefferson Davis, former President of the Confederate States of America, was held in the Georgia State Capitol on December 11, 1889 while his funeral was that day in New Orleans.

On December 11, 1941, Germany declared war on the United States.

On December 11, 1960, a civil rights demonstration including 8000 African-American citizens was held in Atlanta as part of the movement to boycott stores that remained segregated.

The Libertarian Party was founded on December 11, 1971 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Tonight at 7 PM at North Avenue Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Senator Renee Unterman (R-Buford) will lead a candlelight vigil in support of “Safe Harbor” legislation for victims of sex trafficking. in conjunction with Street Grace, Wellspring Living, youthSpark and Georgia Cares.

Candlelight Vigil

This morning, Sen. Unterman will pre-file legislation in the Georgia Senate to further the protection of child victims. The “safe harbor” legislation will address inconsistencies in the prosecution of human trafficking cases at the state level, impose harsher punishments on those convicted of this terrible crime, and create a funding mechanism to provide for the care and rehabilitation of child sex trafficking victims.

“It has been a long four-year journey of advocacy, education, and sincere determination explaining to Georgia citizens exactly what is happening to vulnerable children in the child sex trafficking trade. House Bill 200, authored by former state Rep. Ed Lindsey, was a historic change to Georgia law that punishes criminals who prey on children by selling them for profit in the sex trade. This bill increased criminal penalties with prison terms and fines, as well as allowed confiscation of assets and affirmative defense,” said Sen. Unterman.

Current state law fails to recognize that victims are not ready or conditioned to not identify their traffickers. This leads to a problematic situation where human trafficking victims are punished because prosecuting attorneys do not realize the depth of the case. The legislation proposed by Sen. Unterman would offer immunity to minors who are forced into human trafficking, as well as proper medical treatment, counseling, and other assistance programs for victims. The legislation will add requirements that are compatible with HB 200.

According to Shared Hope, an advocacy group, Georgia is currently ranked with a “B” letter grade in its protections against child sex trafficking. The pre-filed legislation reflects pro-active measures that recognize children as victims and not criminals, creates a therapeutic safety net system of care and bridges the gap of public/private partnerships with community non-profits. The legislation will also incorporate required Federal guidelines outlined in HR 4980, the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, passed by Congress earlier this year.

“Georgia is a state that deeply cares about the children who are being sold for a profit in the sex trade industry. This legislation is meant to send a strong and clear message that we do not tolerate these actions and believe in severe punishments for profiteers. We are a state that recognizes societal problems, and Georgia should strive for nothing less than an “A” letter grade in the protection of its children,” said Sen. Unterman.

Suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis will be re-tried on charges of official corruption beginning June 1, 2015.

Ellis’ first trial, which lasted six weeks, ended without a resolution in October when a jury couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict on any of the 13 counts against him after 11 days of deliberations.

The retrial go forward unless Ellis agrees to a plea deal or District Attorney Robert James drops the charges.

Carlton Fletcher writes in the Columbus Ledger-Enqiurer that the media portrayed this year’s elections as being closer than they actually were in order to make more money from advertising.

As one Republican political expert pointed out — rather smugly, I might add — in the aftermath of the state primaries, “It’s all in the numbers. Even with a lot of Republican voters crossing over in the primaries to vote in races that involved only Democrats, the number of Republicans who voted in the state far outnumbered Democrats.”

The No. 1 reason so many admitted to surprise at the ease with which Nathan Deal and David Perdue won their respective gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races is that a large number of media outlets kept up a steady barrage of “Polls show Nunn leading Perdue” and “Carter even with Deal in governor’s race” headlines…. he idea was to keep the public thinking that these races weren’t going to be the blowouts that they turned out to be.

Why, you may ask.

Money, I will answer.

As anyone who even remotely follows politics these days will attest, it’s not about where candidates stand on the issues, it’s about how much money they spend on ridiculous ad campaigns. Because if the typical Georgia voter sees a campaign ad that even hints that Candidate A is going to “go after my guns” or is “soft on immigration,” well, that’ll get ‘em out of the Barcalounger on election day.

I think that in many cases it’s simpler than that: I think that individual reporters got caught up in the idea that they might have something more interesting to write about this year’s elections than, “it’s 2010 all over again and nobody will be surprised on election day.” After all, as far as I know, reporters don’t make more money if their outlets sell more advertising. Who does make more money when advertising spending goes up? Political consultants and media consultants and state party employees.

Bundy Cobb, who was made to doff his National Rifle Association hat in order to vote, is suing in federal court.

The Southeastern Legal Foundation is representing Cobb and filed the civil rights lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Atlanta on Monday.

Douglas County, the Board of Elections and Registration, including members Sylvanus Burney, Bob Camp, Meredith Hendricks, Ingrid Landis-Davis and John Lawrence, Elections Supervisor Laurie Fulton, Voter Registration Clerk Constance Bowen and Director of Communications and Community Relations Wes Tallon are all listed as defendants in the lawsuit.

According to Cobb, he was told by elections officials that “the NRA is perceived to be associated with the Republicans” and was therefore illegal “campaign” material under law. Cobb opted to remove his hat in order to vote. Cobb could have been subject to arrest, imprisonment, and a fine under Georgia electioneering laws if he had not complied.

The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the alleged policy and the actions of the poll worker in forcing Cobb to remove his hat to vote.

Click here to see a copy of the lawsuit.

While I don’t approve of the actions taken by poll workers in this case, you shouldn’t wear hats indoors anyway.

The Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission approved a consent order that includes the first instance of a filer of an ethics charge being ordered to pay attorney fees to the subject of the complaint.

A consent order, which the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission approved on Wednesday, calls for Dr. James Burnham to pay Better Georgia’s attorney Jeremy Berry of McKenna, Long & Aldridge $500 within 15 days for filing a frivolous complaint.

Better Georgia, a left-leaning, nonprofit social welfare organization, said this is the first time that a defendant in an ethics case has been awarded attorney fees. State statute gives the ethics commission the ability to award fees but does not state specifically how much.

In his June complaint, Burnham accused Better Georgia of making political statements in emails to subscribers without properly registering as an independent committee with the ethics commission or submitting required reports to the commission.

Burnham’s attorney, Bert Guy, said Burnham “felt that Better Georgia was not complying with state election law.”

What do craft beer, Tesla Motors, and car rides have in common?

In a piece published yesterday in TownHall,com, I wrote that Georgia still maintains what might be outdated regulatory models for alcohol sales, auto sales, and catching a ride.

A new Georgia Craft Brewers Guild is ramping up to challenge the state’s three-tier alcohol distribution system, which prevents brewers from selling directly to consumers. Neighboring states without this restriction have seen a booming microbrewery industry while the Brewers Guild says Georgia is lagging behind.

Tesla Motors is currently locked in a battle with the existing franchise auto dealers over whether Tesla can sell cars directly to consumers. Franchise auto dealers say they protect consumers, while Tesla argues that only a manufacturer can build out the infrastructure, like specialized fast-charging stations, and train the staff to sell and service a new kind of auto.

Finally, rambunctious upstarts Uber and Lyft are challenging the existing taxi cab licensing structure and appear to have found a powerful ally in Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

But a game changer may have occurred in the automotive fights, courtesy of a company led by local business legend Don Panoz.

If you’d like to do me a favor, please, click that button right there and share my article on Facebook.

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The CRomnibus Cometh

The “CRomnibus” tag has been applied to legislation by the United States House of Representatives that combines a “CR” or Continuing Resolution and an “Omnibus” bill to keep the federal government operating. Here’s what The Wall Street Journal wrote:

Much like a Cronut combines a croissant and a doughnut, the cromnibus merges two types of spending bills: a continuing resolution, or CR, and an omnibus.

Incoming House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R., Ga.) is credited with coming up with the idea for funding most of the government through September 2015 by passing 11 of the 12 spending bills Congress tries to approve each year. (Passing all 12 would be an omnibus.) Lawmakers like these bills because they enable Congress to make changes in spending levels, unlike a continuing resolution, or CR, which generally just extends current funding without alterations.

This year GOP leaders hope to pass a measure tying together 11 bills keeping the government running until next October, while extending current funding just until early 2015 for the Homeland Security Department, which oversees immigration-related activities. That last piece is the CR part of the cromnibus. Republicans angry over Mr. Obama’s plan to bypass Congress and shield millions of illegal immigrants from deportation want to try to stop him next year, when they control both chambers of Congress.

The Washington Post breaks down some of what is contained in the 1603-page document.

$1.2 billion for agencies to deal with the influx of undocumented children crossing the Southern border. $5.4 billion to fight Ebola in West Africa. $521 billion in military spending and an additional $64 billion for the fight against the Islamic State, which doesn’t count against budget caps. A 1 percent pay raise for military service members and federal employees.

A Republican provision restricts the Clean Water Act, though Democrats blocked riders restricting EPA actions on greenhouse gases. (Roll Call) The bill allocates $73 million to strengthen a federal database aimed at blocking gun sales to the mentally ill and other prohibited buyers. It also extends the ban on state sales taxes on internet sales. (The Hill).

The Hyde Amendment blocking federal funding for most abortions is in the bill.

The IRS will take a $345.6 million budget cut. The EPA’s budget goes down $60 million. (Washington Post) A rider striking school lunch standards backed by First Lady Michelle Obama didn’t make it, though a compromise giving school districts more flexibility made it in. (Politico)

A rider limiting D.C.’s legalized marijuana law made it into the bill. The rider will allow legalized possession of marijuana, but it will prohibit District officials from creating the regulatory system for legal sales and taxation of the drug. (Washington Post) Another rider would allow individuals to give three times the annual cap on donations to national political party committees for conventions, building expenses and recounts. That means a donor who gives, say, the DNC or RNC the maximum $32,400 this year would be able to donate a total of $324,000 on top of that, for a total of almost $1.3 million per couple over the next two years. (Washington Post).

At least one Tea Party group has taken to the streets to express its dissatisfaction with everything the legislation,

On Wednesday, representatives from the Gwinnett Tea Party, the Georgia Grassroots Coalition and CitizensBWise visited the 7th Congressional District representative’s Lawrenceville office to express their concerns regarding the $1.014 trillion spending bill released Tuesday.

The bill, according to Gwinnett Tea Party co-chair David Hancock, will provide President Obama with the funding he needs to “get his amnesty program going.”

“We are hoping we can get the Congressman to not vote for any funding bill that includes money to support this amnesty program,” he said.

Additionally, Hancock would like Woodall to promise not to vote for any bill that has been published less than 72 hours. Hancock said it is not feasible to expect lawmakers to read and analyze the 1,600-page spending bill before Thursday when the vote is expected to take place.

At a minimum, Hancock explained, he would like a rider attached to the spending bill — also known as the “Cromnibus” (continuing resolution plus omnibus) — which would prevent any funds from being spent to enforce Obama’s executive actions pertaining to immigration.

Steve Ramey, Gwinnett Tea Party co-chair, agreed and added he wants Woodall to represent his constituents.

“What we have done in this ‘Cromnibus’ is cement a lot of good policy for the remainder of the fiscal year — like preventing a bailout for the Obamacare risk corridor program, reining in regulatory overreach, preventing any new spending for Obamacare, and much more — while only funding the Department of Homeland Security for the short-term,” Woodall explained. “This enables us to narrow the funding conversation in February to this one department, and the House, with a willing partner in the Senate having been sworn in, can stop this President’s actions the right way.”

Woodall added he understands the frustrations voiced by the activists who visited his office.

“As conservatives, we have all been very frustrated by what we’ve seen from the Obama Administration,” he said. “There is a misconception, however, that if the government shuts down it takes away his ability to act in these ways. It doesn’t. His actions are funded with money that he raises through fees, and until we are able to pass a bill that the president signs in order to change the way that he uses those fees, he will continue down this road.”

“We want him to represent not what he thinks is right, but what we stand for,” he said. “He was elected for that reason. He was elected as a Republican to represent us.”

Daniel Malloy at the AJC breaks down what Georgia’s congressmen have said about the Cromnibus.

U.S. Rep. David Scott, an Atlanta Democrat, said he was unsure how he was going to vote because he needed to review the derivatives language.

His fellow Atlanta Democrat, U.S. Rep. John Lewis, was a firm no: “It’s not a good bill.”

U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, an Athens Republican, opposed the bill well before the groups weighed in, as he remains a burr in Republican leaders’ saddle in his final days in Congress.

“I can’t vote for the” spending bill, Broun said. “It’s a tremendous compilation of bigger government, more intrusion in people’s lives, creating more debt, depriving people of their freedom and liberty.”

U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, a Coweta County Republican, said he was in favor, and U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, a Savannah Republican, said he is leaning toward yes.

Members such as U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, a Gainesville Republican, face difficult choices. Collins, finishing his freshman term, is a conservative who sometimes breaks to the right against party leaders but bucked the pressure groups to vote for an omnibus spending bill in January.

Collins said Tuesday that he was still working through the decision. Among the pros: restrictions on what the EPA can declare as federally regulated waterways.

But there were cons as well.

“It’s certainly not everything I would like to see,” Collins said. “But at this point of time, we have to face some of the realities of the numbers in the Senate and the House. And that will be what we look at over the next 24 hours.”

2016 Presidential Election

Rick Santorum appears to be spooling up his campaign for President to make another run at the top job in 2016.

“America loves an underdog. We’re definitely the underdog in this race,” he said in an interview Tuesday. Santorum added that being underestimated — again — “has given me a lot of latitude.”

Where he had to build his operation from the ground up in 2012, Santorum now has a grass-roots operation called Patriot Voices, which boasts 150,000 activists across the country. Its current push, an online petition drive to oppose President Obama’s recent executive action on immigration, has generated what Santorum strategist John Brabender says are “30,000 new e-mail relationships.”

Whether Santorum can raise the money he needs is another question. Foster Friess, the benefactor who ponied up $2.1 million to a pro-Santorum super PAC in 2012, says he would support him again. The former senator is sounding out other deep-pocketed donors, whom he declined to identify.

He is retooling his message, hoping to appeal beyond his socially conservative base and reach blue-collar voters who are being left behind in the economy.

At the same time, Santorum is likely to have more competition for the support of social conservatives than he did in the last campaign. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who won the Iowa caucuses in 2008 and retains a strong reservoir of support among evangelical voters, is considering another White House bid.

Reflecting on how a presidential campaign could be different this time around, Santorum said: “We’re just obviously in a better place right now. Our message will be a lot more focused this time than it was last time.”

Santorum is running again. The question is whether, as the race heads to new terrain, he’ll still be able to keep the pace.


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