The Methamphetamine 6 and the end of politics as usual

Voters in north Georgia had tired of politics as usual. They demanded something different.

Now they have it — a 9th District congressional race that, instead of ending on Tuesday, will go on and on like a painful but riveting summer soap opera.

The featured player is certain to be former state House member Tom Graves of Ranger, whose lush black hair, easy manner and tea party credentials made him the man to beat in a May 11 special election to fill out the final six months of former congressman Nathan Deal’s term.

Former state House member Tom Graves of Ranger

Former state House member Tom Graves of Ranger

Graves walked away with 35 percent of the vote. Odds are good that he’ll win the Tuesday runoff against former state senator Lee Hawkins of Gainesville, a dentist.

Under normal circumstances, the fairy tale would end there. Graves’ defeated opponents would gracefully exit — offering only token, underfunded resistance leading up to a July 20 primary and a full, two-year term in Congress. (No Democrat remains in the contest.)

But we are done with politics as usual, and have shifted to politics of the bizarre — courtesy of an extended-stay motel in Calhoun, nicknamed by its current proprietor as the Methamphetamine 6. In honor of the habits of its clientele.

At the crack of Memorial Day weekend, news broke of a lawsuit filed by the Bartow County Bank, which alleged that Graves and Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) had defaulted on a $2.2 million loan used to purchase the establishment.

The business case for the Oglethorpe Inn is unclear. But Georgia offers some tasty tax breaks for on-scene movie companies, and perhaps a series of slasher flicks was contemplated.

The 32-year-old motel and debt, Rogers and Graves say, now belong to another company owned by a fellow who wears an electronic monitor on one ankle.

Moreover, Rogers and Graves accuse the bank of reneging on a deal. The bank allegedly made a promise to two sitting state lawmakers — Graves resigned his seat this spring — that it would convert the obligation to a 2.5 percent, interest-only loan. On $2.2 million.

A $2.2 million loan was used to purchase this aging motel in Calhoun

A $2.2 million loan was used to purchase this aging motel in Calhoun. Jeremy Redmon

Take a few minutes to sort through your mortgage checks and see how your bank deal compares.

The most damaging feature of the lawsuit is the bank’s accusation that Graves fraudulently transferred two properties — including his residence in Ranger — to a trust in an attempt to frustrate the bank’s efforts to collect on the debt.

Graves supporters say times are hard everywhere, but especially in north Georgia — where real estate has plummeted like a red-tailed hawk on a doomed pigeon.

Graves denies any wrongdoing. “This country has a judicial system in place where business disputes like this lawsuit can be successfully and fairly resolved,” he said.

But the crucible of Washington is not famous for patience.

Assume a Graves victory next Tuesday. His supporters are enthusiastic, and last-minute developments rarely have a significant impact on campaigns.

Graves will be sworn in as soon as the vote is certified. Just as quickly, a complaint against him — third parties can be found, so the author does not matter — will be lodged before a congressional ethics committee to force a speedy assessment of the facts.

Which means that regardless of what happens Tuesday, many of the combatants of the 9th District will refuse to leave the field.

Hawkins took 23 percent of the vote last month. In a statement issued Wednesday, the former senator would not concede defeat in next week’s balloting . But he added this: “Mr. Graves has obviously used some very bad judgment in his financial dealings, and that controversy now apparently won’t end on Tuesday regardless of who wins.”

Likewise, Steve Tarvin of Dalton, a self-made textile executive, declared Graves’ financial situation “unfortunate,” but said he would not withdraw. Tarvin won 15 percent of the vote in May.

“I’m in it. I feel like I’m the true heart of the 9th District. I feel like in July, it’s going to be a different story,” Tarvin said. Of seven candidates who signed up for the July 20 contest, only two have said they would withdraw.

But none have sent the necessary notarized statement to Secretary of State Brian Kemp. As of now, all seven names will appear on the Republican ballot — a near guarantee that a runoff will push the soap opera into August.

The contest is already forcing signs of a split within Georgia’s Republican delegation.

Graves has the support of U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Coweta County. But U.S. Rep. John Linder this week accused Graves of lying about the amount of campaigning he’d done on behalf of the Fair Tax.

Kate Monaghan, communications director for the Graves campaign, said her candidate expected a strong showing on Tuesday, equal to the vote in May. And she pointed out that U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor of Virgina, the House minority whip, endorsed Graves this week.

Monaghan singled out the dentist in Gainesville — the population center in the district is weighted toward that city — for criticism.

“Regardless of how much mud Lee Hawkins throws, the voters want a candidate who will not compromise when it comes to cutting taxes, opposing wasteful Washington spending, and creating jobs for Georgians,” she said.

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37 comments Add your comment

Crushing blow of reality

June 2nd, 2010
6:39 pm

Tom Graves is a tea-partier? Does he support segregation like his boy Rand Paul?


June 2nd, 2010
7:08 pm

We can only hope he does.


June 2nd, 2010
7:27 pm

Graves is a slug, you can see his slimy stain on everything he’s touched. He’s a crook, like most in DC. Unfortunately for NW GA, the electorate always vote for these self-righteous a–holes that never have their interests in mind. Do these people not understand that a “fair tax” helps the rich by drastically increasing the tax burden on the poor?


June 2nd, 2010
7:33 pm

“lush black hair” ? is this a man-crush for Jim?

Al Sharpton

June 2nd, 2010
7:49 pm

Remember this is the liberal Democratic forum.


June 2nd, 2010
7:52 pm

As a resident of the 9th district, I can tell you Graves will probably win. We tend to vote for crooks and liars up here. After all, we kept electing Nathan Deal all those years. As long as somebody yells Jesus loudly enough and says he hates illegal immigrants, Muslims, gays, and Obama and loves guns, he will win, irregardless of the fact that he’s a “self-righteous a-hole. And, no, WCW, the rednecks up here don’t have a clue about the “fair tax.” A thoughtful conservative has no chance.

voice of reason

June 2nd, 2010
8:14 pm

Did any of you stop and think of the sudden drastic downturn of the economy. A lot of decent people got caught off gaurd financially. Get ALL THE FACTS then walk a mile before you throw you throw the first stone. Your glass houses may could still fall victim to this economy we’re not out of the woods yet. It is always refreshing to see that a self proclaimed educated person is so open minded that they don’t stereotype others instead of giving actual events and facts to support THIER opinions.

Rafe Hollister

June 2nd, 2010
8:15 pm

Two things: I live in the Ninth and was going to vote for Graves, but have no stomach for shady crooked people, so #1, how weak is this Hawkins dude if he can’t capitalize on this scandal. #2, why are you sliming the other 5 people in the race calling them Methamphetime 6, seems there is only one of them involved in this scandal. Is it because they are conservative Republicans?


June 2nd, 2010
8:16 pm

All the more material for my novel!


June 2nd, 2010
8:31 pm

“Meth 6″ is the nickname of the hotel in Calhoun that Graves has defaulted on, to the tune of 2.2 million, and is a play on the chain “Motel 6″. The place is old and shady, its clientele is primarily crack heads, hence the “Meth 6.” On a side note Hollister, this is what Graves calls the place, the ajc didn’t come up with the nickname.

Conservative Democrat

June 2nd, 2010
9:28 pm

@ “voice of reason”:
Your admonition to “get all the facts” is sound advice. One fact I would be interested in is whether you think YOU could have gotten an interest-only loan for $2 Million at the rate of 2.5%. (Oh, and by the way, this rhetorical question assumes you are not an elected member of the General Assembly).


June 2nd, 2010
10:25 pm

The one thing that leads credence to Graves and Rogers claim that Bartow County Bank lied to them about refinancing is that the bank has been under the gun from the feds to raise capital and get bad loans off the books. The bank was hit last week with a cease and desist order. The bank had told the guys that if they would continue using personal funds (not funds from the motel’s revenues) to make the interest payments, they would refi the whole deal. This dragged on for months and then the bank backed out. It appears on the surface that this was a ruse by the bank to make the loan look like it was performing – so the the feds wouldn’t seize the bank.


June 2nd, 2010
10:33 pm

If it wasn’t just Georgia politics-as-usual, I would think this story has the makings of a movie script.


June 2nd, 2010
10:44 pm

Slimey banks all over Georgia. Many have already failed. Slimey politicians are now the rule–no longer the exception.. I want Poythress, Porter or Chapman for governor. Clean this state up. Get rid of the sleazeballs. Regulate banks. Enforce ethics. The last eight years have been a crazed free-for-all and Georgia is going down the tubes.


June 2nd, 2010
10:47 pm

Wow. Make that slimy/not slimey. No spell check.


June 2nd, 2010
11:05 pm

Graves is a crook!

gdot supporter

June 2nd, 2010
11:56 pm

Jim, are you on Hawkins payroll, too?

Kool-Aid Anyone?

June 3rd, 2010
7:25 am

Voice of Reason – did you read the Dr. Spock book on campaigning? Do we have to build Graves’ self confidence and make him feel good about himself even though he has not earned it?

Graves is accused of transferring assets he had pledged as security into a trust to shield them from creditors. How’s that for living up to his own pledge of personal responsibility?

I hear that he may be facing more serious trouble as he did not disclose all of this on his federal campaign reports. Hmmm…can you say federal charges?

Of course all you kool-aide drinkers want to blame Hawkins, Galloway, the bank and everyone else except Mr. Personal Responsibility himself, Tom Graves. He’s the one that borrowed money, personally guaranteed it when he was already insolvent, transferred assets to hide them and lied on campaign disclosures.

And you still try and justify it as okay and want to send him to DC? Give me a break!

June 3rd, 2010
7:46 am

This is just one of several shady deals Rogers is involved in. Like Ralph Reed, he paints himself as Mr. Clean and behind the scenes deals with some pretty sketchy people and organizations. Once all the dirt comes out on him, he’ll be lucky to convince heavily Republican Cobb and Cherokee to put him back in office, much less advance him to Congress in two years like he wants.

A True American

June 3rd, 2010
8:06 am

All you Graves-bashers are obviously anti-God and hate our freedom.


June 3rd, 2010
8:23 am

Tarvin is from Chickamauga, not Dalton.


June 3rd, 2010
8:55 am

I’m voting for Steve Tarvin, 9th district, a man who stands for God, truth, honor, and family. Is strong on private enterprise, states rights, the constitution and the Fair Tax. Not a politician who could or could not fight for the rights of the people of Georgia, Not a politician per se. Not someone who can’t run his own business well.

Jimmy Johnson

June 3rd, 2010
8:56 am

Liberal Lee Hawkins is slinging mud as fast as he can to try and distract the voters from his Obama supporting record. Go away Lee Hawkins, we have no desire for your dirty politics and false advertising.

you've gotta be kidding

June 3rd, 2010
9:15 am

The only one doing dirty politicking and false advertising is Tom Graves. He acts like he’s so above all this when he’s actually crooked as they come. They have been scrambling to find something to use against Hawkins and there isn’t anything. Do you honestly believe they wouldn’t use it if they had it?? Dr. Hawkins is a good guy and anybody who says otherwise obviously doesn’t know him. He’s not the one leaking this stuff about Graves. It’s a LAWSUIT, people! The press is reporting it, not Hawkins! I was at an event the other day and somebody asked Hawkins about it and he said he wasn’t going to comment on his opponents legal troubles. Said he preferred to stick to the issues. He had a chance to blast Graves in front of a whole room full of voters and he didn’t do it so you people blaming this on Hawkins are full of s%&t.

Mr. Grumpy

June 3rd, 2010
9:23 am

Slimy? What do any of you expect from these Holier-than-Thou politicians who try to come off as being so respectable, so family-oriented, so ethical. Are the voters in the 9th District THAT dumb? Graves is slimy. Can’t y’all tell?

Disavantaged Insider

June 3rd, 2010
9:24 am

Dawg, it’s not a “man-crush” over his hair. It’s envy. Don’t ask me how I know.

James H.

June 3rd, 2010
10:02 am

This is how Hawkins runs races, he did it in his last race as well. Offers no reason to vote for him, just attacks his opponents. I eat lunch at a place with his “inner circle” of advisors, or so they think eat. So the other day after bragging to me how they were going to destroy Graves with this lawsuit (which was well before it ran in the news media mind you). I asked them if they did manage to “destroy” Graves how they were planning on beating Tarvin, that he seem to be gaining support, and he and Graves are more alike, so the Grave voters would probably go to him. THe “advisors” told me the stuff they have on Graves doesn’t compare to what they have on Tarvin and some contracts, and workers he has hired. So I think Jim is right, as long as Hawkins is involved the drama will continue.


June 3rd, 2010
10:31 am

What’s the difference between Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber? You can’t fit an X-acto knife blade between the platforms of each of these goplet slimebags. Fair-to-billionaires’ tax, check; repeal healthcare reform, check; hate the scary brown people, check; continue the same failed goplet policies that have put the economy in the dumpster, check; pander to willful ignorance, check.
And one of the candidates is accused of corruption? The only surprise there is that’s it’s only one. That’s 9th District values for you (and I live there): make lots of noise about morals and values while you’re lying, cheating, and stealing. But IOKIYAR.


June 3rd, 2010
1:03 pm

@JamesH – So far everything that is called mudslinging seems to have merit and has good chance of being true, from what I have seen. The only thing that seems to be a stretch is the CFG ad implying that Hawkins would not fight to repeal OBAMACARE. As for Tarvin, I worked with him for thirty years and have known him for 53 years. I can assure he is not worried about one truthful thing these clowns can come up with on him. Tarvin is the guy that will tell you everything that is good and bad in his life upfront. If they are talking about the company Tarvin works for, they have never held a contract with anyone, have never hired an illegal, pre-employment drug tests all applicants and you can count on one hand the people that drew unemployment in the thirty years I was involved. This could have changed in the last 3 1/2 months, but I don’t think so I still have family that work there.

Another crook at the trough

June 3rd, 2010
3:31 pm

Sounds like the perfect successor to Sleazy Deal.


June 3rd, 2010
10:03 pm

Jimmy Johnson, you have been drinking the Kool-Aid if you think Hawkins is a liberal. And, yes, Mr. Grumpy, as a resident of the 9th District, I can tell you the voters up here are THAT dumb. We will elect him, Another Crook, as the succesor to “Sleazy Deal.” We love our politicians sleazy, unethical, and dishonest as long as they say they are conservative and have “family values.”


June 3rd, 2010
10:36 pm

Today, Graves claims the place is a charity for needy families referred by his church. The school system has indicated funds have been paid for their referrals (where’s the charity?). I personally detest this man, and have nothing for any of these ultra conservative christians either, they’re nothing but revival-showboat con artists.


June 4th, 2010
12:05 pm

Simply amazing, Tom Graves “Tea Party Candidate” is endorsed mostly by main stream Republican Party. Lee Hawkins “Main Sream Republican Candidate” seeks endorsement from Tea Party Groups, asking “What do I need to do?” I quest
ioned these labels up front. I believe I will changed my name to “ConfusedVoter”

voice of reason

June 4th, 2010
3:03 pm

Well just be sure to make it to the polls Monday and put your vote where your mouth is, no matter who you vote for or all of this arguing is for not. Remember a lot of brave Americans all through history have died to give us this opportunity don’t let anything keep you from participating.


June 6th, 2010
3:40 am

Sounds like Graves is the perfect candidate for the job. Already knows how to borrow and spend somebody else’s money using his political connections.. with no intent to repay it.
Hawkins is a good guy..Graves is whining about his “mudslinging” because it is his best pitiful defense.

[...] The hotel got the nickname of Meth 6 because of the type of cliental that it hosted. Roger’s claims no involvement… which is what everyone would [...]

[...] Rogers is also involved in the Methamphetamine 6, where he and Tom Graves bought property and defaulted on the $2.2 million loan. The place is called the Meth-6 because of the type of people who use the [...]