Your morning jolt: Larry O’Neal says House speaker’s affair was ‘common knowledge’

This morning, Travis Fain of the Macon Telegraph has a piece on state Rep. Larry O’Neal’s entry into the race to replace House Speaker Glenn Richardson that contains at least two ah-ha! bits of intelligence worth your attention.

Here’s the gist:

“What we need the most right now is somebody to calm things down,” said O’Neal, chairman of the House’s tax-code-writing Ways and Means Committee. “We can’t have any distractions. We’re facing (an economic) situation I’ve not known in my lifetime, and I’m a pretty old guy.”

O’Neal, 60, promised a different style than Richardson’s boisterous and often confrontational ways.

He acknowledged that Richardson’s affair was common knowledge at the Capitol following the speaker’s divorce in early 2008. But he said it was the stunning interview Richardson’s ex-wife gave an Atlanta television station late last month that turned the problem into “too much of a distraction.”

Asked Wednesday if he was in the room the night Richardson, Burkhalter, House Majority Leader Jerry Keen and Gov. Sonny Perdue met to discuss Richardson’s future, O’Neal said he was.

“Several people (were) in that room, all very close to Glenn Richardson … all there for him, personally.”

O’Neal said no succession plan was put in place that night that he knew of, and he said he didn’t know why Burkhalter stepped away from the speakership.

He described himself as “a judge-not-and-I-won’t-be-judged kind of guy, as long as the work gets done.” The plan for House Republicans should be to “calm down, get a consensus, get back to work,” he said.

First, it is important that O’Neal admits that Richardson’s affair with a lobbyist was “common knowledge” before Susan Richardson went to WAGA. Claims of ignorance from other prominent House members have been drawing private hoots of derision from rank-and-file members of the GOP caucus. Credibility is important when seeking a leadership position.

The question is whether, politically, it’s better to pretend ignorance, or to acknowledge reality – and then be required to explain your own inaction in the matter.

Secondly, it is significant that O’Neal was one of a very small handful invited into the room when the very first discussions about replacing Richardson took place, in the home of Gov. Sonny Perdue. A spokesman for the governor says Perdue did not call the meeting. But so far, no one has been able to say who did issue the invitations, or who was on the closely held guest list.

O’Neal, a close Houston County associate of Perdue, is a new addition.

To quote the great Woody Allen, 90 percent of life is just showing up. The other 10 percent is knowing exactly where and when to do it.

In other tidbits surrounding House races for leadership positions:

– Bill Hembree of Villa Rica has declared his candidacy for the speakership, with a Facebook page and a message to his GOP colleagues that reads, in part:

“[A}s Georgians and as members of the Republican Caucus of the Georgia House of Representatives, we find ourselves at a crucial point and in need of strong, moral and ethical leadership.  Our constituents are looking to us to quickly elect a new Speaker who can bring about the real change expected of us.</blockquote>

– John Lunsford of McDonough is running for majority whip.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson was on the phone yesterday, talking about a confirmation timetable for David Adelman of Decatur, who’s been nominated to become the U.S. ambassador to Singapore.

Isakson mentioned something I hadn’t realized: The current debate in the Senate over health care reform is the longest sustained discussion in the chamber since the Civil Rights legislation of the 1960s.

“They’ve got just so many of these stenographers that have to do every word of every speech of every motion of every colloquy on the floor. And they’re working 18 hours a day, around the clock, 27 days a month. They are worn out,” he said.

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18 comments Add your comment

Peach P.

December 10th, 2009
10:03 am

Rep. O’Neal?

Isn’t he the individual who assisted Sonny in the Oaky Woods debacle a couple of years ago?

If memory serves, it was Larry O’Neal who formed the real estate company for Mrs. Sonny so they could purchase 100 acres adjacant to Oaky Woods. It was Larry O’Neal who serves on the board of the bank that loaned Sonny’s childhood friends the money to purchase the 19,000 acres after Sonny turned down the Nature Conservancy’s bid to protect that Wildlife Management Area, wasn’t it?

Who was the Chair of the House Ways & Means Committee when the “Private City Act” was hatched? Rep. O’Neal I think?

Wasn’t that the legislation that would have allowed the developers of Oaky Woods to levy taxes on the citizenry?

Aren’t we lucky that 51% of our voters saw through that scam?

Is someone that entrenched in cronyism the man we want in the Speaker’s Chair?

Churchill's MOM

December 10th, 2009
10:12 am

“Credibility is important when seeking a leadership position”…Why did Sonny’s personal Lawyer not do something about the $300 Million bill for AGL that Glen was handling for his mistress. Georgia needs a man who will stand up for what’s right not a blade of grass that blows in the wind from which ever master is is serving. My rep. already has 1 email from me opposing O’Neal and I am going to go call him when I finish this.

The Snark

December 10th, 2009
10:16 am

Richardson’s affair was common knowledge long before his divorce. Just ask anybody who works for the Public Service Commission or who lobbys there. He used to bring her to public parties while the legislature was in session, for Christ’s sake!

Al Bundy

December 10th, 2009
10:21 am

Whatever happened to that Sonny Do list?

Hasn’t done much all this time has he?

kindergarden math

December 10th, 2009
10:42 am

I guess the stenographers are worn out if they are working 27 days per week. Now that is unbelievable government efficiency, considering that most of us can only manage 7 days per week, at best.

Churchill's MOM

December 10th, 2009
10:58 am

Are we going to have a conservative to run against Johnny Isakson? He is just a big spending liberal.

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

December 10th, 2009
11:03 am

Richardson’s unrighteousness was “common knowledge” yet he was the “elected” leader of the “Republican” caucus.

Babylon risen.

The same “spirit of the age” oversees their faction’s turning a “blind eye” to Bush’s and Cheney’s proven 9/11 treason. Viz.

It is no coincidence that the Roman Anti-Christ’s “Fifth Column” is staffed by draft-dodgers like Sonny Perdue and his crowd, adulterers like Glenn Richardson and his cohort, bathroom stall perverts and closeted homosexuals like George W. Bush.

Were they men of honor Richardson’s failure would have led to his demise.

There is no honor among those who condone treason in service to fascist plutocracy and that which Our Founder correctly identified as “the real Anti-Christ.”

The women, fully knowledgeable of their “men’s” dishonor yet staying with them, are no better than Elin Nordegren: displaying their “wares,” and taking their “price.”


December 10th, 2009
11:07 am

Maybe O’Neal knows why Sonny needed $21 million, since he’s Sonny’s attorney. The mystery continues. Many possible conflict of interest scenarios come to mind, but we will never know because Sonny doesn’t think it’s any of our business.

Road Scholar

December 10th, 2009
11:53 am

Anyone who knew is not speaker material, especially those in a leadership role.

Rotten Fish Smell

December 10th, 2009
12:15 pm

“In 2005, O’Neal, the Ways and Means chairman who helped Perdue buy land in Georgia, pushed through legislation that gave a retroactive tax break for land purchases that saved Perdue $100,000 in taxes owed on the Florida land. Perdue signed the bill into law, saying he didn’t realize until later that he personally benefited from it.“Ethics Issues surrounding Perdue,” Associated Press/, Dec. 26, 2006.(21)”

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

December 10th, 2009
1:08 pm

Perdue showed the same lack of character when he jumped into veterinary school to dodge the draft, and then didn’t protest that for which he was unwilling to place his life at sacrifice with 9.2 million other Americans who served in uniform under arms during Vietnam.

Spirit of the age.

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

December 10th, 2009
1:11 pm

Birds of feather – O’Neal dodged during Vietnam, too.


December 10th, 2009
1:18 pm

may have missed the story, but what exactly happened on the $21 million loan when due? was it paid off or extended? can someone point me to the story or did no one have guts to report extensively on this?


December 10th, 2009
2:01 pm

He says he knew about the affair and did nothing? Tells me the content of his character. In addition, as Sonny’s personal attorney, he has too many skeletons in his closet. He is not leadership material period, certainly not for Speaker. We would only have more of the same.

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