Jekyll Island — Thurbert Baker’s Democratic campaign for governor goes up on TV for the first time on Sunday with a message geared specifically for Father’s Day:
The ad is introductory in nature: “Growing up, my dad didn’t even knew his father. But it was never going to be that way with him,” said Chelsea Baker, one of the attorney general’s two daughters – who is now a DeKalb County teacher like her mother. So education is a subtext.
Spies tell us that the Republican campaign of John Oxendine has purchased TV time starting early next week, and that former GOP congressman Nathan Deal looks like he’s focusing on a 10-day strategy for his ads next month.
Thursday’s debates of Republican and Democratic candidates for governor on Jekyll Island were jointly sponsored by the Georgia Press Association and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce – two entities that have often warred over public access to information.
So it was significant that every single candidate, regardless of party, declared his support (Karen Handel didn’t attend, remember) for legislation that would require all closed meetings held by government entities – from city councils and school boards to state authorities – be recorded.
That way, if the meeting is later found to be illegal, a record of what happened exists.
But as he declared his support, former GOP congressman Nathan Deal may have made a slight gaffe – at least in the eyes of newspaper editors and publishers in the audience.
Deal declared himself in support of efforts to restrict public access to information regarding economic development efforts, a cause pressed by the Georgia Chamber.
One of the things that we sometimes run into is that, when we’re competing for an industry to bring into our state, and other competing states are relying on the information that we have to disclose – in other words, they know what our offer is, and their laws do not allow us to know what their offers are. That is a problem.
Georgia newspapers fought that legislation several years back. “I blocked that bill in the Senate,” Eric Johnson, then Senate president pro tem, reminded the audience.
State Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, in a slight dig at Johnson, declared that he favored making the General Assembly subject to the state Open Records Act.
On the Democratic side, former Gov. Roy Barnes reminded his audience that he pushed through legislation to require local governments to sign an affidavit declaring why meetings were being closed.
The only lawmaker to vote against it, Barnes said, was Glenn Richardson of Paudling County, the future House speaker. “Apparently, we didn’t have the right lobbyist to talk to him,” he quipped.
The former governor also used the opportunity to chide editors and publishers for not pressing other candidates to join him in disclosing their income tax returns. Said Barnes:
“You ought to disclose your income tax [returns] if you’re running for governor. It is the most painful thing on the face of the earth. But I put 25 years of income tax returns online. And I hate to say this, but I don’t see too many editorials about where are the other candidates doing it.
“If Thurbert’s agreed to do this, I ain’t seen it yet. We ought not to have a whisper about what occurred on somebody’s personal finances. We’ve had that the last eight years, and it’s time to stop it.”
DuBose Porter, the House Democratic leader, made a bit of news on the issues of transportation and water. First, he said he would redraft the transportation sales tax legislation passed by the General Assembly just this spring.
“What we did last [session] will not do one thing toward fixing transportation. It basically shut the door to commuter rail in Georgia. There’s no way you can get two, three regional government districts between Atlanta and Macon agree to that corridor. It does not work.”
Porter said he would then put his reworked legislation and the penny sales tax up for a statewide referendum in 2011, rather than wait until 2012, as the current law dictates.
Porter also declared that the simplest, quickest and cheapest way to address Georgia’s water problem is to raise the level of Lake Lanier by two feet – though it would require re-authorization from the U.S. Corps of Engineers, which operates Buford Dam.
Sam Olens, the former Cobb County commission chairman and a GOP candidate for attorney general, was in the audience for the Democratic debate. He declared Porter’s idea highly sensible.
While candidates for governor gathered at Jekyll Island, a Fulton County judge made a decision likely to affect the Republican side of the equation. From my AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin:
A judge issued an order Thursday blocking a State Ethics Commission hearing set for next week from discussing two insurance companies caught funneling $120,000 to Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine’s gubernatorial campaign.
The commission has been investigating the donations since last year and recently subpoenaed the companies – State Mutual Insurance and a subsidiary Admiral Life Insurance, both of Rome – for financial records.
The companies balked, and filed a suit in Fulton County to stop the investigation. They argued it was political and had been delayed until just before the July 20 primary election to hurt Oxendine. Delos Yancey III, who heads State Mutual, is a friend of Oxendine.
My AJC colleague Bob Keefe in Washington has collected more details on what has prompted an ethics investigation into the fund-raising activities of U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-Roswell):
A day before voting against financial industry reform legislation, Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Price of Roswell held a luncheon where he sought up to $2,500 in campaign donations from political action committees and lobbyists representing banks and other financial companies, records show.
The fund-raiser, held at the Washington insider restaurant Capitol Hill Club, came in a month in which Price received tens of thousands in campaign contributions from banking groups and other political action committees that had a stake in the legislation.
Eric Johnson’s contention that the last major oil spill in the United States occurred in 1969 gets slapped down by PolitiFact Georgia today:
Johnson’s statement fails the Truth-O-Meter test. While the nation’s largest oil well blowout did take place in 1969, it’s not factually correct to call it the “last major oil spill.”
PolitiFact Georgia also comes to the defense of Attorney General Thurbert Baker. An anonymous YouTube video attacks Baker – using a clip of then candidate Barack Obama, in 2007, condemning the 10-year sentence given to 17-year-old Genarlow Wilson, who had been found guilty of aggravated child molestation, for consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl.
Obama said Wilson had been convicted of a misdemeanor. But the crime was a felony at the time Wilson was convicted.