A cross-ideological alliance of tea partyists, good government-types and traditional Republicans in pursuit of ethics reform in the state Capitol will unveil its demands this morning.
Bob Irvin, the former state GOP legislator and past chairman of Common Cause Georgia will have the mike. Other groups include the Georgia chapter of Tea Party Patriots, Georgia Watch, and Ray Boyd, the former candidate for governor.
Timing is everything in politics. Look for a federal lawsuit alleging that Jack Murphy, chairman of the state Senate banking committee, to be a major topic at the 11 a.m. presser.
Murphy told the AJC on Wednesday that he has no plans to resign his spot as a chief advocate for banking legislation in the Capitol. He issued this statement, which we reproduce in its entirety:
“First, I must point out that I am limited in what I can say regarding my involvement with Integrity Bank and the FDIC.
“Although I have not yet been served with the lawsuit, I have been advised by an attorney that a lawsuit does exist and I should limit my comments for the standard legal reasons.
“That said: it is important to note that I was one member of a larger board whose members were named in this civil lawsuit.
“I have served on Georgia’s House and Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committees for eight years. I know Georgia banking laws and I know that I not only followed the letter of the law but the spirit of the law as well.
“This is a civil lawsuit. Portions of this FDIC lawsuit ignore specific aspects of the corporate status of several of the bank’s borrows, to the point where the facts have been twisted.
“What has been printed in the media regarding this lawsuit represents only one side of a complex business arrangement that evolved and grew successfully over the better part of seven years. The board members and I will file answers to this civil suit. As this case proceeds through the court, a clear understanding of the Integrity Bank Board of Directors’ protocol will come to light.
“I also believe it is important to point out that all of the board members lost considerable sums of money for their efforts with Integrity Bank – just as many, many people involved with banks across the state have.
“Again, because this is an ongoing lawsuit, I cannot comment further and I ask the media to respect that. This will be my last statement on this matter until the board’s attorneys recommend otherwise or the lawsuit is dismissed. Any further comment would be unfair to the other board members.”
This morning, the ruling body of the state Senate, the Committee on Assignments, issued the following statement:
“The banking industry has been troubled worldwide, and valuable lessons have been learned from these unfortunate experiences. It is important to remember, this is a civil lawsuit over business practices. Senator Murphy has denied the allegations. It would be improper for anyone to rush to judgment based on mere allegations and without a determination of fact.”
It is unclear whether this spirit of mercy is intended to extend to homeowners behind on their payments.
Up in Washington, the Republican-led House voted to repeal last year’s health care reform efforts by Congress. Democrat John Barrow of Savannah was one of the suprises.
Last year, he voted against the measure. On Wednesday, Barrow voted against its repeal. From the Savannah Morning News:
The law doesn’t solve “the most pressing health care issues this country faces,” he said after the vote, but he also insisted that repeal’s not the answer.
“We need to keep the parts that prohibit folks from getting denied coverage based on preexisting conditions, and extend health coverage to kids just out of college,” he said.
“There are a lot of good things in the bill,” he said Saturday at a meeting with constituents. “I don’t believe in voting against the parts that are good. … We need to amend it, not end it.”
In Atlanta, hours before the Republican action, Gov. Nathan Deal stood before the Georgia Healthcare Association and warned that the health care overhaul’s Medicaid mandates could cost Georgia $2.5 billion in state funds over the next decade.
On the other hand, a writer for the Democratic-oriented blog, Georgia Politico, makes this point about the new governor’s recent budget proposal:
Deal, a staunch opponent of Obamacare, will use the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan to help balance his budget. He plans on moving hemophilia patients onto the federal government’s health care plan…, saving around $1 million throughout the budget.
For someone who is so opposed to “government run health care,” he is quick to utilize it when it is convenient for him.
Republican presidential presumptive Newt Gingrich will make himself available for commentary on the health care issue at his Atlanta offices at 3 p.m. today.
Gov. Nathan Deal has scheduled something of a do-over today. Last week, during his second day on the job, the governor invited reporters to witness his meeting with those leading the state’s snow-recovery efforts.
Participants were Vance Smith, commissioner of the Department of Transportation, Col. Bill Hitchens of the Georgia State Patrol, Gen. Terry Nesbitt, commander of the National Guard; and Charley English, director of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.
But the governor prohibited the reporters attending from asking any questions. In the midst of a massive weather shutdown, this struck many of the journalists as odd. They ignored the ban, the governor declined to answer shouted questions, and the whole thing came off badly.
Journalists have been invited to speak to Deal and the same five major disaster players at 2:30 p.m. today. Questions will be answered.
How badly have state agencies been hit by the economic downturn? The Georgia Supreme Court has been reduced to begging for pencils, according to testimony at this week’s budget hearings. From Walter Jones and the Morris News Service:
Chief Justice Carol Hunstein explained how the Supreme Court rounds out its staff with unpaid law students and returned a needed copying machine.
“We also take every precaution possible to minimize waste, from recycling old paper to recycling bindings that come in on pleadings and to soliciting pens and pencil donations from Westlaw and Lexis,” Hunstein said.
My AJC colleague Steve Visser captured this bit of weirdness involving a former Libertarian candidate for president from Cobb County:
Ed Marger is leading a team of metro Atlanta lawyers to Haiti this weekend to meet with Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, the former president accused of looting the national treasury.
Marger, whose practice is in Jasper, said he got to know Duvalier when he became an acquaintance of Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, the younger Duvalier’s infamous father, who ruled the poverty-stricken country from his election as president in 1957 to his death in 1971….
The legal team includes former Georgia congressman Bob Barr, who is associated with Marger’s law firm, and Mike Puglise, a Gwinnett County lawyer who has worked with Marger before on high-profile cases.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider