Your morning jolt: Karen Handel puts a shawl around Nathan Deal’s shoulders

The issue of abortion is likely to dominate much of the remaining two weeks in an increasingly caustic Republican runoff for governor.

But after Saturday’s meeting in Dalton, former secretary of state Karen Handel attempted to inject another element that she’s hinted at before: An age gap of nearly 20 years.

Here’s the Twitter she sent out on Sunday:

gd debate. Nathan forgot that he quit Congress b/c of that ethics investigation but I suppose he was tired. http://bit.ly/9KJN97 #gapolitics

While Deal emphasizes his experience, the former secretary of state’s language is littered with phrases like “next-generation” and “fresh-thinking.” Handel is 48. Deal will turn 68 next month.

Do not be surprised if the next TV ad from the former north Georgia congressman shows him taking a jog, or lifting a bulldozer over his head.

***

Last night, former GOP candidate for governor Eric Johnson of Savannah sent out a proposed op-ed piece for Georgia newspapers, saying that he expected his political career was at an end:

“My ministry in elected office is probably over. It was a wonderful journey. There is no doubt that I was called and I answered. There is always joy in that. God certainly has blessed me.”

But Johnson also indicated that he might not be ready to endorse Karen Handel:

“The race turned ugly in the final month when one candidate called the rest of us (and the entire legislature) “corrupt” and she was subsequently attacked by other candidates for lying and being ‘liberal.’ We did not respond and that may have cost us this race. But it is not in my nature.”

***

On the other hand, Tom Barton of the Savannah Morning News is having none of this talk about retirement. He wants Eric Johnson to run for mayor of Savannah:

I mean no disrespect to Alderwoman Edna Jackson, who’s angling for this job. She’s very much a worthy candidate. Then there’s Regina Thomas. My understanding is that Thomas isn’t interested in running for mayor.

But after clocking incumbent Congressman John Barrow by more than 2-to-1 in Chatham County in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for the 12th District congressional seat (Barrow still won the nomination easily), the lady in the hat may be having second thoughts.

Eric Johnson, however, is too good to lose. He would be the right mayor for the right city at the right time.

***

The Macon Telegraph this morning addresses the cases of two men who last week appeared to have lost their races by only a few hundred votes each: Terry Coleman of Eastman, the former House speaker, in a Democratic contest for labor commissioner; and Max Wood, the former federal prosecutor from Macon, in the GOP contest for attorney general:

[Coleman] said he did better than he expected he would statewide, given what he called a cash-strapped campaign budget and the limited amount of time he had to win support across the state.

But he also said he was underwhelmed at the lackluster support he received from Bibb and Houston counties. He lost Houston County by two votes, 1,671-1,669, and the margin in Bibb was more than 1,300 votes, 5,059-3,726.

“It was a little disappointing, given the strong ties I have to Macon and Warner Robins,” Coleman said.

He said he wants to wait and see how the final vote turns out before planning his next move. He said he’s unsure if he’ll make another political bid or not.

Wood said big money was his real enemy in the contest:

Wood said he’s not admitting defeat until all the absentee ballots have been counted and the vote is certified, which could happen Monday. He said he hopes he can pick up the 600 additional votes necessary to get a recount.

“There’s still a chance I could get enough for a recount, and who knows what could happen then?” Wood said.

Wood said he intends to fight to the end because he doesn’t think his opponents represent Georgia — or the Republican Party — well.

“I think Republicans are going to regret nominating either one of them. Both (Olens and Smith) are big in the Legislature, and that’s why they had so much money donated to them. That money tends to come from vested interests.”

***

Tom Crawford of the Georgia Report has a new, accessible blog, Human Behavior – which this morning takes a shoot-the-wounded look at Attorney General Thurbert Baker and his Democratic try for governor.

Crawford puts most of the blame on Baker’s handling of the Genarlow Wilson case. Baker pressed the state case against the young black man jailed for having consentual sex with another teenager:

Baker always maintained he was just upholding the law, which was his duty as the state’s top legal official, but his insistence on pursuing the Wilson appeal cost him dearly among black voters. Look at the numbers from last Tuesday.

Blacks comprise about half the voters who cast ballots in the Democratic primary. Barnes received nearly 66 percent of the total vote, which suggests that he got at least 35 percent or more of the black vote – a vote that, under other circumstances, might have gone to the first African American ever to be elected attorney general in Georgia.

But Crawford brings in another, less talked about factor: Baker’s failure to go after Linda Schrenko.

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71 comments Add your comment

Red

July 26th, 2010
9:11 am

Representative Nathan Deal (R-GA) is a nine-term member of Congress, representing Georgia’s 9th congressional district. His ethics violations stem from his abuse of his position for his personal financial benefit.

Recovery Services, Inc. a/k/a Gainesville Salvage & Disposal

Rep. Deal, along with his business partner Ken Cronan, owns a lucrative business, Recovery Services, Inc., that – through a no-bid contract – provides inspection stations to the state for the inspection of salvaged vehicles. The business earned $1.4 million between 2004-2008 and Rep. Deal personally took home $150,000 a year.

In 2008, Georgia Revenue Commissioner Bart Graham took over responsibility for the inspection system and found the operational costs and locations of the inspection stations to be too costly and restrictive. Comm. Graham decided the best course of action was to reform the system and award contracts through a competitive bidding process.

Rep. Deal and his staff, with assistance from Georgia Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, arranged meetings with Comm. Graham at which Rep. Deal and his chief of staff were present, to persuade him to reconsider his decisions, including the proposed elimination of $1.7 million that has been allocated for the program. After Comm. Graham’s plan was passed by the Georgia House, Rep. Deal’s chief of staff used his House email to contact Georgia state officials in an effort to stop the plan from passing the state Senate. The money for the program was eventually kept in the budget.

Rep. Deal’s abuse of his position and taxpayer resources to maintain a personally lucrative business deal does not reflect creditably on the House.

Noo Corrupt Deal, Nooooo King Roy

July 26th, 2010
9:18 am

After spending the week end in Augusta with family, I found out that a lot of people don’t know what a Corrupt Politician Nathan Deal is, so I have decided to change my 1st name to more correctly reflect Deal’s dishonesty

THE NAME SAYS IT ALL

Coastal Cavalier

July 26th, 2010
9:26 am

I really miss the guy who was on here all the time talking about who “my man Ox” is going gore.

Jon

July 26th, 2010
9:28 am

They’re still talking about abortion? Who cares?

BeyondTheRhetoric

July 26th, 2010
9:41 am

Karen Handel calls herself a “next generation” politician, yet she is taking a page from President Clinton and James Carville’s playbook, the “Politics of Personal Destruction”. Now she is attacking his age. For those who remember the Reagan debates, how about her “youthful inexperience”….

She also continues to call Nathan Deal a “career” politician when, she herself, obviously started in politics in her mid 20’s. How else would she get a job as Deputy Chief of Staff for Vice President Quayle’s wife, Marilyn.

Tinytam

July 26th, 2010
9:42 am

I hope this is the correct forum to pose this question and I’m hoping Mr. Calloway responds but I want your insight. Is it possible for Georgia (or any state) to have an elected official who wins office without pandering to the extremes in either party. I traditionally vote Dem but voted for Handel because I liked that she was being accused of supporting liberal causes. In my opinion, with the current state of our local government and Washington, I’d like more politicians who weren’t so married to the bipartisan rhetoric and certainly who weren’t afraid to turn away special interest dollars. I’d love to see a candidate who would openly express that the best way to serve the American people or citizens of their state or district was to compromise in order to come up with the most effective solutions. I believe both parties have gotten so far from the middle ground that they can’t see how much it hurts all of us. I’m not sure if they really consider themselves as public servants anymore. Anyway, I hope no one here beats me up too badly for even asking the question. I don’t think blogs are just for us to hide behind and say hateful things about one another. Maybe someone else shares my opinion or concerns.
Have a good day to everyone!

Jon Lester

July 26th, 2010
9:42 am

Johnson considers his political career a ministry? I doubt if he believes that himself, given his actual performance in office, but it really doesn’t reflect well on his voters.

BeyondTheRhetoric

July 26th, 2010
9:59 am

The following is an honest and open account of Nathan Deal’s so-called “Ethics Violation”. I challenge media reporters to investigate…..

Leveraging a report consisting of “inconclusive accusations” issued by the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) – an office created by the democratic controlled Congress, Karen Handel continues to promote a “myth” surrounding Nathan Deal’s business, Gainesville Salvage Disposal. Handel’s attempts to taint Deal’s 30-year career of public service to the people of Georgia is a desperate “witch hunt” and the record needs to be set straight. Here is the Rest of the Story.

Deal owns a partnership in a salvage business, Gainesville Salvage Disposal (GSD), and like many other similar businesses did, partnered with the state of Georgia. This NO MONOPOLY, NO CONTRACT arrangement allowed state inspectors to use their facility 2 days a month to conduct vehicle inspections. These inspections were conducted as a means to ensure that rebuilt vehicles that had previously been deemed “totaled” by insurance companies were safe for resale and road use.

GSD, like other similar businesses, provided their facilities to the state inspectors at NO CHARGE. The owner/applicant requesting the inspection would pay an inspection fee for each car inspected. These fees were the only revenue and profit gained from this arrangement with the State.

Following consolidation of departments under Governor Sonny Perdue, this state inspection program was placed under the Revenue Department, headed by Commissioner Bart Graham. The program became an “after thought”, and Graham indicated it may be terminated. Following Graham’s announcement, the employees of the department; the state inspectors, began contacting Graham in an effort to get clarification about the future of the program. A concerned salvage business owner in Douglasville even posted the commissioner’s office phone number on the Internet and encouraged people to contact him directly. Graham did not respond to these requests for clarification.

Nathan Deal was approached by a number of the state inspectors and other salvage business owners requesting his assistance in gaining information from the commissioner regarding the future of the program. Nathan agreed to assist, and his Congressional Chief of Staff arranged the meeting. Since the purpose of this meeting was to inquire about the future of the program and not intended to discuss any kind of business relationship, Nathan’s staff did not view use of his Congressional e-mail account to be a “conflict of interest”.

At the meeting, Commissioner Graham said he was considering privatizing the program – allowing private companies to re-title these “totaled” cars without a state inspection. Nathan expressed concerns to the commissioner regarding the safety of these vehicles under such a privatized program, since these businesses would have a “profit motive” to simply re-title as many cars as possible. The commissioner went so far as to say that “Safety is not my concern”. In a Congressional interview Commissioner Graham stated that safety had never been taken into account under the program. In a Congressional affidavit, the state’s top official in the program stated that his boss, Commissioner Graham, was wrong and safety had always been a major concern and priority of inspectors. This same state official elected to take early retirement because of the direction Commissioner Graham was taking the program.

Despite the efforts of Nathan, state inspectors, and other salvage business owners, Commissioner Graham removed all funding for the program from the state budget. Nathan stopped all efforts to see the program continued once this decision was made.
Here are some key facts to consider about these accusations:

 It is difficult to argue that Nathan Deal was “bigfooting” state officials as a Congressman, since the commissioner heeded none of Nathan’s concerns or suggestions.

 Under the new privatized program that Commissioner Graham implemented, Nathan and his business partner could have increased revenues significantly by re-titling cars. These revenues would have far exceeded the small amount (less than 10%) of GSD’s revenues generated under the previous inspection program.

 Out of concerns about vehicle safety, Nathan and his business partner dissolved their relationship with the program. It should be noted that under Commissioner Graham’s new program, it is estimated that 18,000 rebuilt cars are put back on Georgia roads each year without proper inspections.

Nathan Deal has 30 years of public service as an elected official without any accusations of misconduct. He authored Georgia’s first ethics law while serving as a State Senator. He has a record of honesty and integrity that has been challenged by “circumstantial evidence”, bolstered by political opponents trying to win this race based on false accusations and innuendo.

T-Bone

July 26th, 2010
9:59 am

Hey Karen, you may want to rethink your tweets. “gd” might not be the best way to abbreviate “good.” You probably gave a heart attack to half of your supporters.

brandon

July 26th, 2010
10:03 am

I can’t image many of Johnson,Ox, and the other candidates supporters going with Handel. The primary seemed to be Handel against the world. Considering the mail pieces etc. The first polls before the runoff should be interesting. I’d be suprised if Handel is leading. My guess is a tight race or Deal up a few points.

Aquagirl

July 26th, 2010
10:03 am

Translation of Terry Coleman: “I provided those %$# a fat government teat, how dare they not reward me.”

Eric Johnson is a nasty, bitter man. He needs to join Sadie Fields in drying up and blowing away.

159

July 26th, 2010
10:04 am

“gd debate. Nathan forgot that he quit Congress b/c of that ethics investigation but I suppose he was tired.”

So Handel falsely attacks Nathan Deal for supposedly attacking her about her gender. Now she turns around and attacks his age? She hits Deal with false accusations of making false accusations while really attacking the fact that Nathan is 68 years old? Enough already.

Nathan Deal resigned congress because the healthcare vote was over and he wanted to get on the ground in Georgia and win the governors race. Since he resigned Deal out fundraised Handel $569,000 to $400,000. Deal has all the momentum right now and it can be traced to him leaving Washington, no matter what Handel claims.

BeyondTheRhetoric

July 26th, 2010
10:14 am

In my earlier comment regarding the ethics complaint filed against Nathan Deal, I neglected to include the following facts.

The complaint was filed with Nancy Pelosi’s House Ethics Committee by the ‘Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington’ shortly after Nathan announced his candidacy for Governor. No proof of impropriety was offered and these charges were dropped several months ago. It was a weak, partisan attempt to tarnish many years of service to the State of Georgia and our Country.

Again, I invite the media and public to research the complainant ‘Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington’ which can be done easily online. You will find that this organization is funded by the far left organization ‘Democracy Alliance’, which, in turn, is funded by members such as George Soros, Jonathan Soros, Rob Reiner and the SEIU (Service Employees International Union) to name a few. As a side note, the Democracy Alliance also provides funding for ACORN, the New Democratic Network, and the Progressive Majority.”

Koko the Monkey

July 26th, 2010
10:16 am

T-Bone, I thought the exact same thing. I had to read the tweet twice to make sure she wasn’t cussin’. Tinytam, I agree with you, too. I am supporting Handel because I think she is the most likely to cross party lines to get things done. Deal (who changes parties whenever the mood strikes him) and Banes (who has already showed us what kind of governor he would be) have no use for people on the other side of the aisle.

Ga Values

July 26th, 2010
10:22 am

Looks like the Deal Paid Bloggers are out this morning so here is the tuthr 8 Democrats & 7 Republicans on the most Corrupt.and Nathan Deal is on the list

**Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA)**
Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL)
Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL)
Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA)
Sen. John Ensign (R-NV)
Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL)
Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA)
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (D-WV)
Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA)
Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-NY)
Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA)
Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-IN)
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)
Rep. Don Young (R-AK)

Ga Values

July 26th, 2010
10:30 am

BeyondTheRhetoric 10:14 am

Do you think the other crooks on the list with Deal are innocent or just the Raw Deal?

Bobby Anthony

July 26th, 2010
10:35 am

I voted as a Democrat In the July primary, but I will vote for Deal in November if he is on the baiiot.

Doug

July 26th, 2010
10:37 am

Hilarious. An age joke from the candidate who weighs 300 lbs. Yeah, Deal’s the one who lacks for fitness. Sure, Karen.

GaBlue

July 26th, 2010
10:38 am

Nathan Deal thinks you’re stupid. “Why do you want to be governor, Grandpa?” “Because the folks in Washington D.C. are spending too much money.” Um…. WHAT? He doesn’t think we know the difference between the job he’s leaving and the job he’s seeking? Geebuss, he must think we’re all brain dead.

Ga Values

July 26th, 2010
10:42 am

Deal replaced David Scott(D,Ga) on the Most Corrupt List, Do you paid Deal bloggers think David Scott is not a crook?

“Since 1978, Scott has owned Dayn-Mark Advertising, which places billboards and other forms of advertising in the Atlanta area. Scott’s wife, Alfredia, now heads the business. In May 2007, it was reported that the business owes more than $150,000 in back taxes and penalties.[4] Scott’s campaigns have paid the company more than $500,000 since 2002 for office rent, printing, T-shirts, and other services. He has also paid his wife, two daughters, and son-in-law tens of thousands of dollars for campaign work such as fund raising and canvassing. In 2007, Scott was named one of the 25 most corrupt members of Congress by the political watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.[5]“

BeyondTheRhetoric

July 26th, 2010
10:47 am

GA Values: First, I am not a paid Nathan Deal blogger. My opinions are based on countless hours of research. This country voted in the 2008 Presidential Election based on sound bites only, remember? We all know how that’s working out……..

I’ve been researching this race since last January because I expected the attacks would fly and I realize how important it is for Georgia to have a strong, conservative, experienced Governor to fend off the unfunded mandates from the federal government.

Secondly, your list comes from the CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) website of which I proved in my last comment, is a left wing organization. Of course they are going to put some Democrats on the list, otherwise it would appear to be biased. Democrat Representative John Murtha, on the list, is dead. We all know what is going on with Charlie Rangel, finally, after a two year investigation the House is prosecuting him. Senator Roland Burns from Illinois is not running for re-election, etc. etc.

If you are going to say something, back it up folks…….

Ga Values

July 26th, 2010
10:55 am

BeyondTheRhetoric 10:47 am

So just the Democrats are guilty? Murtha was still alive when this list and doing the same thing that Deal did. If I were you I’d be sure the Deal bunch pay you in cash because he is crooked as my dog’s hind leg as.

Deal With It › Blog for Democracy

July 26th, 2010
10:56 am

[...] Amy Morton on Jul 26, 2010 at 10:56 AMGalloway points out this morning that discussion of abortion is likely to dominate the balance of the race for the Republican brawl [...]

Ga Values

July 26th, 2010
10:56 am

BeyondTheRhetoric 10:47 am

So just the Democrats are guilty? Murtha was still alive when this list and doing the same thing that Deal was doing. If I were you I’d be sure the Deal bunch pay you in cash because he is crooked as my dog’s hind leg is.

Ga Values

July 26th, 2010
10:59 am

BeyondTheRhetoric 10:47 am

So just the Democrats are guilty? Murtha was still alive when this list was published and doing the same thing that Deal was doing. If I were you I’d be sure the Deal bunch pay you in cash because he is crooked as my dog’s hind leg is.

T-Bone

July 26th, 2010
11:30 am

Finally! I was beginning to wonder if I had stumbled across the wrong blog. Ga Values must have fallen asleep at the keyboard. It usually takes less than an hour for that Most Corrupt Politicians list to be posted. And it usually isn’t long before someone points out Murtha is dead. Everything is right with the world again.

Meanwhile, Roy Barnes is scooping up voters and talking about less important matters like jobs, education, etc. You know, ignoring the important issues like abortion and gay adoption.

BeyondTheRhetoric

July 26th, 2010
11:50 am

GA Values: In my comments I was discussing the names on the list, not their innocence or guilt, except for the obvious member on the list, Rep Charlie Rangel. I may be wrong, but to my knowledge, none of the others, including Democrats have been prosecuted.

My point, again, is that the list you came up with comes from the CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) website, a left wing organization. It is interesting that it was CREW, the creators of your list, that submitted the complaint to the House Ethics committee in the first place. Which makes one wonder, are they creating the news or reporting it? Every story that I have seen on this issue comes directly from the articles on the CREW website.

As for Deal being as crooked as your dog’s hind leg, he was elected to the US House by the 9th District a total of nine times in the past 18 years. Do you think the 9th District would continue to re-elect a Representative that is “crooked”? Give us a break……

whatever

July 26th, 2010
11:51 am

@BeyondtheRhetoric……..
Thank you…….I was beginning to think I was the only one who cared about the facts.

Parkerized

July 26th, 2010
11:52 am

If the choice is between a crook and a kook. At least you know what the crook is going to do.

ANGRY AS HELL

July 26th, 2010
11:53 am

BeyondTheRhetoric– Now, who’s twisting the facts? Of those listed by CREW, 9 are Deomocrats. 8 are Republicans. That doesn’t sound to me that they’re showing bias toward your boy, Nathan. Sounds like birds of a feather flock together. And the House Ethics Committee is made up of House Republicans, too, ALL of whom voted along with the Democratic members to pursue the investigation. I don’t know what you think or pretend to know about Nathan Deal, but he used his position and the resources provided to him in his role as a United States Congressman (his Chief of Staff’s time and email account) to pressure members of the Georgia legislature to keep things the way they were so he wouldn’t lose his income. Casey’s got some “splainin’ ” to do, too. Does anyone think Georgia Revenue Commissioner Bart Graham is a pawn of Democrats out to get Nathan? Get real! It was a Republican-appointed Revenue Commissioner who “outed” Nathan for the pressure he was personally putting on him to keep Nathan’s business going. This is who YOU want to be the next Governor of Georgia? Heaven help us all.

Ga Values

July 26th, 2010
12:13 pm

BeyondTheRhetoric 11:50 am

How many times was Charley Rangel or John Lewis re elected? Facts are clear Deal is a Crook.

Ga Values

July 26th, 2010
12:23 pm

That post makes me sound like a racist, so .. How many times was John P. Murtha re elected?

Billy Joe Poteet

July 26th, 2010
12:53 pm

@BeyondTheRhetoric

I am not a Deal supporter, but I appreciate what you are trying to do. It just won’t work with many of these folks. They have got their mind made up and don’t want to be confused with facts. Most of them who criticize your efforts are the blindly following democrat sheep anyway, and they are on the way to the Obama slaughterhouse.

BeyondTheRhetoric

July 26th, 2010
12:59 pm

Angry As Hell: I question the legitimacy of the Democrat Controlled Ethics Committee after watching a simple tax evasion investigation on Representative Charlie Rangel take two years and the circumstances surrounding the Alaska Senator Ted Stevens.

Senator Stevens lost the 2008 election after thirty years of government service. Stevens was convicted eight days before the election in Washington DC for allegedly accepting bribes in the form of improvements to his home and the corresponding alleged tax evasion. On appeal, all charges were dropped by Eric Holder a few months ago because the investigation amounted to nothing but a witch hunt. The purpose of the investigation, however, to stop Senator Stevens from winning the Senate Race, was successful.

Justice Dept. to Drop Charges Against Stevens
By Carrie Johnson and Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, April 2, 2009

During the corruption trial of former Alaska senator Ted Stevens, federal prosecutors were chastised by a judge for letting a witness leave town. They got in trouble for submitting erroneous evidence and were reprimanded for failing to turn over key witness statements. An FBI agent has since complained about the prosecution team’s alleged misconduct.

Yesterday, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced that he had had enough. The Justice Department asked U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan to drop the case after learning that prosecutors had failed to turn over notes that contradicted testimony from their key witness.

The discovery by a fresh team of lawyers and their acknowledgment that the material should have been shared with Stevens’s defense team led Holder, a former public corruption prosecutor, to conclude that the department’s biggest public corruption case in a decade could not be salvaged.

Holder’s decision invites tough new scrutiny of a unit that polices corrupt officials, and it could foreshadow a shakeup in the way the government prosecutes those crimes, according to lawyers who work on such cases.

Current and former department lawyers predict an overhaul that will sweep aside senior leaders in the Public Integrity Section, two of whom were cited for contempt of court by the Stevens trial judge. That ruling triggered an internal ethics probe that has produced an awkward situation in which prosecutors and FBI agents who worked side by side on the case are pointing fingers at each other, sources said.

The Public Integrity Section in recent years has lagged in personnel and investigative firepower, veterans of the office say. Its work has produced acquittals and second-guessing from judges, which may intensify after the Stevens debacle.

Stevens issued a statement saying he is “grateful that the new team of responsible prosecutors at the Department of Justice has acknowledged that I did not receive a fair trial and has dismissed all the charges against me.”

Holder’s decision could also benefit another Alaska politician, Rep. Don Young (R), who is the subject of a corruption probe. Inconsistencies by witnesses in the Stevens case could make prosecutors reluctant to use those same witnesses — oil services company executives Bill Allen and Rick Smith — in any case against Young.

And other ongoing investigations of members of Congress — probes that have already been slowed by problems with collecting evidence and protecting lawmakers’ constitutional privileges — could grow more painstaking with additional oversight by department brass who want to avoid a repeat of the Stevens case.

Defense lawyers who represent public officials already are seeking to exploit the government’s problems to help their clients accused of political corruption, three of those lawyers said yesterday.

Stevens, 85, was convicted in October, eight days before Election Day, of seven counts of making false statements on financial disclosure forms to hide about $250,000 in gifts and free renovations to his Alaska house. The Justice Department filing yesterday means that he can no longer be prosecuted on any charges stemming from those allegations.

On Capitol Hill, outrage was palpable among Republicans who believe the case cost them a Senate seat. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters, “No question that, if this decision had been made last year, he’d still be in the Senate.”

Former U.S. attorney Joseph diGenova, a Republican, praised Holder for making a tough call and reminding government lawyers that “the power to prosecute is the power to destroy. The significance of this misconduct is monumental.”

Holder’s decision to drop the Stevens case comes less than two weeks after a federal jury in Puerto Rico resoundingly acquitted the commonwealth’s former Democratic governor, Anibal Acevedo Vila, of conspiracy and money laundering charges. Justice Department prosecutors charged Acevedo Vila last year, not long before indicting Stevens, in the midst of a tight reelection campaign that he ultimately lost.

Bradford Berenson, who worked on Vila’s defense team, said public corruption cases demand acute judgment and sensitivity. “Too often they are tempted to indict marginal or ambiguous cases, and that’s where they get into trouble, trying to present highly technical infractions to a jury,” Berenson said.

Guy Singer, a former prosecutor, said Holder’s decision “does not necessarily signify a belief in Senator Stevens’s innocence, but it indicates serious concerns about the way the case was handled by both prosecutors and agents.”

In his statement yesterday, Holder cautioned that an internal ethics review continues and that no determination has been made about the conduct of individual prosecutors. Calls and e-mails to several prosecutors in the case were not returned yesterday.

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) last week announced his intention to investigate the way the government conducted the case. Judge Sullivan had been preparing to conduct evidentiary hearings in his own review of allegations of prosecutorial misconduct. After the Justice Department asked for the dismissal yesterday, Sullivan told both sides to appear in his courtroom Tuesday. He is likely to grant the request.
I
n February, Sullivan held three prosecutors — William Welch II, Brenda Morris and Patricia Stemler — in contempt for failing to comply with a court order. Welch is the head of the public corruption unit, and Morris was the lead prosecutor. Six members of the prosecution team eventually withdrew from the case.

Brendan Sullivan, Stevens’s lead attorney, told reporters yesterday that “the conduct of the prosecution was stunning to me. They were hell-bent on convicting a United States senator.”

Holder assigned a team of top department lawyers to review the case and said yesterday that he made the decision after a thorough review of the evidence.

In a three-page memo that accompanied the announcement, prosecutor Paul M. O’Brien said he discovered evidence that two prosecutors did not turn over notes from an interview in April 2008 with the case’s key witness, Bill Allen. Those notes contradicted a critical piece of testimony Allen later gave at trial.

Allen is the former head of Veco, a now-defunct oil services company, and a close friend of Stevens’s who allegedly gave him many of the gifts and funded most of the renovations to his house. At the interview in question, according to the notes, Allen said he did not recall talking to a friend of Stevens’s about sending the senator a bill for work on his home, O’Brien wrote.

Under oath at trial, however, Allen testified that he was told by the friend to ignore a note Stevens sent seeking a bill for the remodeling work. “Bill, don’t worry about getting a bill” for Stevens, Allen said the friend told him. “Ted is just covering his [expletive].”

Staff writer Paul Kane contributed to this report.

John Galt

July 26th, 2010
1:13 pm

The alleged ethics violations against Nathan Deal amount to nothing more than an attempt by two George “Sonny” Perdue appointees to get rid of the competition so they could stay in high office despite their proven incompetence.

Ga Values

July 26th, 2010
1:16 pm

BeyondTheRhetoric

July 26th, 2010
12:59 pm

Get paid in cash..I agree with you that Deal has about the same standards as Ted Stevens. Problem is that Obama’s boy Eric Holder can’t pour water out of a boot. Nice try but no Cigar.. Deal was a Clinton Democrat wasn’t he? May be next time you’ll earn a Clinton Cigar.

Ga Values

July 26th, 2010
1:21 pm

If I was 1 of you Deal interns, I’d do what my uncles did when they got caught with their hands in the till, just say “I have stole enough and won’t steal any more” It worked in Cobb County.

Dick In Winder

July 26th, 2010
1:44 pm

Why aren’t you Deal Boys out putting signs up? Guess Nathan is using Illegals like all of the power structure in Hall County does.

droopydawg

July 26th, 2010
2:58 pm

I’m not a huge Handel fan. But I think she should just say he is unethical, maybe even criminal, and I’m not. That is the basis for my vote since Eric Johnson did not make it to the runoff.

allmeyer

July 26th, 2010
3:29 pm

Nathan Deal is corrupt. He was investigated for “using congressional resources to influence Georgia state officials for his personal financial benefit.” When he resigned, right before the final report was to be released, Deal was out of the Commission’s jurisdiction. The commission did find him guilty.’

BeyondTheRhetoric

July 26th, 2010
3:35 pm

Allmeyer: What commission? Please list your source if you have one.

saltine

July 26th, 2010
3:55 pm

Beyond: as for your “countless hours of research,” you may be interested to know that each year has 8760 hours in it. I bet you can actually count up the hours, since you appear to have a lot of time on your hands.

Dawgfan

July 26th, 2010
4:05 pm

@GA Values, you may want to check out what Politifact had to say about Deal being a “Clinton Democrat”.

Dawgfan

July 26th, 2010
4:06 pm

@Dick in Winder – find me one illegal putting out Deal signs. All I see are legal citizens working hard for something and someone they believe in.

Dawgfan

July 26th, 2010
4:09 pm

Dick In Winder

July 26th, 2010
4:58 pm

Dawgfan

July 26th, 2010
4:06 pm

You are not from Hall County are you.

BeyondTheRhetoric

July 26th, 2010
5:58 pm

GA Values: I consider it a compliment that you continue to insist that I am being paid by the Deal Campaign. Obviously, I must be making some good points here……

Thank you all for taking the time to read my comments, I hope I have shed some light….

Alaskan

July 26th, 2010
9:03 pm

Beyond the Rhetoric, your logic concerning Ted Stevens’ prosecution is the opposite of the facts. He was prosecuted by the Bush (republican) administration and pardoned by the Obama (democratic) administration.

kreedham

July 26th, 2010
9:10 pm

Hey Jim…I know the Barnes folks won’t say publicly but who would Barnes rather run against?

[...] The best I can tell, he was referring to this article from Jim Galloway at PoliticalInsider. [...]