Your morning jolt: Casinos and ethics in an exurban state Senate race

When Senate District 31 was redrawn last year, it dropped Bartow County and picked up a larger slice of Paulding County.

The new lines have delivered unto Republican incumbent Bill Heath of Haralson County a total of two challengers, both from Paulding. A first debate of the trio was held Tuesday evening, hosted by the Paulding County Republican Women’s Club. Yours truly moderated.

Two topics, both of which will appear on the July 31 GOP primary ballot, stood out as potential difference makers. First was the matter of a $100 (per day) cap on gifts to state lawmakers from lobbyists. You’ll remember that a coalition of tea party and good-government groups are pushing candidates to sign a pledge supporting the gift cap.

From Bill Carruth, a businessman and former chairman of the Paulding County Commission:

”I’ve signed that pledge, but I’ll take it one step further. I’ll make a commitment – I won’t take any perks, any theater tickets, any ball game tickets, any dinners, any hunting trips. I won’t take anything from a lobbyist or PAC.”

Heath was more circumspect:

”I learned a long time ago, you need to be very careful about signing pledges. Oftentimes a pledge you signed [with] good intentions is turned around, and someone wants to interpret it to affect your ability to legislate.

“I don’t think we can pass a law to make good folks out of bad people…I will support actively any effective ethics legislation. But I will tell you that the decision on good ethics lies in each of your hands. When you elect good, honest people to office, you don’t have to have laws to tell them how to behave.”

And from J.K. Rogers, an investigator with the Cobb County solicitor’s office:

”I don’t need free meals. I would like to see it go to a lower amount. The people who are serving should be serving for the people. They should not be serving to go to the Wild Hog Supper. They should not be serving to go to dinner….So to me, I think $100 is even too much.”

And then there was the topic of casino gambling. From Heath:

”The laws of this state, and this nation itself, were founded on biblical principles….The Bible says you should not gamble. We’ve created this system to fund education. We sugarcoated gambling a few years ago. Zell Miller did that. We instituted a lottery to encourage you all to gamble to fund education….Guess who’s paying for the education of the rich kids? It’s the poor folks. The same thing will happen with casino gambling….I will always vote against casino gambling. I’ll vote against horse-racing. If I were given the chance, I’d vote against the lottery, because I think it’s wrong.”

Then came Carruth:

”I’m opposed to it, and I’m not prejudiced. But if I saw where these Indian reservations were going to be able to bring in for-profit gambling….and that money was going to be collected anyway, and spent to make people wealthy rather than spent on education, or something we could use in the state to supplement tax money, then I would try to step in and get ahead of that.”

After the forum Carruth amended his answer to a simple “no.”

And from Rogers:

”I don’t like it. I don’t think it’s the right thing to do. But I also have to say that there are a lot of things I don’t like. And a lot of other people, they do these things. When I start imposing all of my values and all of my beliefs on you, I think I overstep my bounds. You’re smart people. You don’t need me telling you everything that you need to do, or you shouldn’t do. I think the people should decide these things – that it shouldn’t necessarily come from the top down.”

***
Jane Bradshaw, former parliamentarian for the state Democratic party, and Melanie Goux, editor of the website Blog for Democracy, reported late Tuesday that negotiations with Democratic party political director Rashad Richey have resulted in a permanent dismissal of his libel suit. From Bradshaw and Goux:

”Though we were never served with the lawsuit, and therefore did not have a chance to defend our names in court, we know that we never did anything wrong.

Ultimately, it is in the best interest of all parties that this dispute is resolved. We look forward to working to elect Democrats in Georgia this fall.

We are grateful for the outpouring of support from many in the Democratic community, including the legal community, and would like to acknowledge our lead counsel, Stefan Turkheimer, Turkheimer & Hadden LLC for bringing this matter to a satisfactory resolution.”

The question now is whether Richey will continue to pursue his suit against Republican blogger Andre Walker of Georgia Politics Unfiltered.

***
In a Monday night debate down in south Georgia, when asked about a vote he cast in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, Wright McLeod of Augusta – one of four GOP candidates seeking to challenge U.S. Rep. John Barrow – said he voted for Bill Richardson, the most conservative Democrat on the ballot.

Larry Peterson of the Savannah Morning News has completed the fact check:

But Richardson, the former governor of New Mexico, didn’t receive any votes in the precinct where McLeod was registered to vote. The registration was confirmed by the Richmond County Board of Elections and vote totals for the precinct are from the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.

***
On the Wisconsin front, Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post makes this point about Gov. Scott Walker’s victory over a recall effort:

Being outspent 10-1 (or worse) is never a recipe for success in a race. Democrats cried foul over Walker’s exploitation of a loophole that allowed him to collect unlimited contributions prior to the official announcement of the recall in late March. Of course, Democrats also pushed the recall and Walker played by the rules of the game — making what he did strategically smart rather than underhandedly nefarious.

And Alan Abramowitz, the Emory University political scientist, added the following this morning:

An examination of the voting patterns and exit poll results in Tuesday’s Wisconsin recall election indicates that turnout was a key factor in incumbent Republican Scott Walker’s victory over his Democratic challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

While there was a heavy turnout for a special election, the actual number of votes cast, just over 2.5 million, fell well short of the nearly 3 million votes cast in the 2008 presidential election. And Republicans appear to have done a better job of getting their voters to the polls.

Turnout for the recall election was 91 percent of 2008 turnout in suburban Waukesha County, the largest GOP county in the state, but only 83 percent of 2008 turnout in Milwaukee County, the largest Democratic county in the state.

The same pattern was evident in the exit poll results. The 2012 recall electorate was noticeably older, whiter, more conservative and more Republican than the 2008 electorate…. Most significantly, on Tuesday Republicans outnumbered Democrats by 35 percent to 34 percent according to the exit poll. Four years ago, Democrats outnumbered Republicans by 39 percent to 33 percent.

On the GOP side, one of the largest players was the Republican Governors Association. Marty Klein, a former staffer for Gov. Sonny Perdue, said his firm, OnTarget, did all the RGA’s direct mail: “Over 3 million pieces of mail in total, over 700,000 personalized absentee request application mailers, over half a million personalized early voting mailers, etc.”

In other words, if Marty owes you money, now would be a good time to get in touch.

***
On Tuesday, U.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and John McCain, R-Ariz., lambasted the White House for leaking what they considered sensitive intelligence information for political purposes. U.S. Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the Democratic chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said his panel would hold hearings on the matter.

From Politico.com:

“With each leak, our allies are left to wonder how much they can trust us with their secrets,” Chambliss said. “Some in the administration have decided that scoring political points in an election year outweighs intelligence operations.”

Click here for a video of Chambliss’ remarks on the Senate floor.

***
Tom Crawford of Georgia Report says the current debate in the Legislature over ethics reminds him of a similar fight years ago over whether lobbyists should be required to register the names of their clients. House Speaker Tom Murphy opposed the move. Upstart lawmaker McCracken Poston pushed the measure through:

Poston said that Murphy, like Ralston, understood that lobbyists helped the House leadership maintain control over the 180 individuals who make up that chamber through the money spent to entertain legislators.

“I realized I was challenging a very institutionalized lever he could use on committee chairmen,” Poston recalled. “By knowing which chairmen liked to eat at the Capitol City Club, and which ones liked to play golf, he could keep control of the place a lot better.”

***
The AJC’s Politifact Georgia today takes a look at Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s claim that construction of the new terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport was completed on time and under budget.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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32 comments Add your comment

clyde

June 6th, 2012
10:11 am

So ethics is defined as accepting only $36500 in bribes per year. Interesting.

Centrist

June 6th, 2012
10:19 am

Democrats and Obama knew weeks ago that Walker was going to survive the recall, and that is why they stopped wasting money and Obama avoided going to Wisconsin.

CNN discussed exit polls last night and why they are not accurate: First, people volunteer to walk up to exit pollsters so it is not representative of the electorate. Those who work are more in a hurry (than those on the government dole). John King added a frank admission that Republicans generally distrust the liberal media (while a Walker supporter was waving a sign behind him saying “Don’t trust the liberal media”).

Knowing all this, the media cited not only the bogus predicted election result, but all those ancillary question results which are equally bogus. This all begs the question – why bother with a known biased exit poll?

Although the media cited bogus pre-election polls claiming the election would be close, only a couple of polls actually got it right. “Too close to call” based on those known bogus exit polls turned out to be a comfortable 7 point spread, and only when the real results showed the exit polls to be false did the media outlets make the call.

While Wisconsin will likely be a lot closer in the November election (via real polling – not the bogus exit polls), as it stands now – Obama will still carry the state.

DJ Sniper

June 6th, 2012
10:30 am

Will somebody please inform Bill Heath that America was NOT founded as a Christian nation? I really wish people would get a clue and stop repeating that.

Centrist, I also wish that Repubs would quit whining about “the liberal media.” I guess it never occured to them that maybe the media would quit reporting about the level of jacka**ery that comes from the right if the right quit giving them ammunition.

As for the WI recall, it’s important to note that Scott Walker outspent Tom Barrett almost 8 to 1. Yet another example of how Citizens United has completely screwed up this country.

Going Right

June 6th, 2012
10:53 am

COME ON, GALLOWAY! Let’s hear your spin on the Recall election results! ON WISCONSIN!!

td

June 6th, 2012
10:56 am

One can not compare the 2008 numbers because they were historically high for both African Americans and the youth. To do an honest comparison then you would compare the 2004 election to the recall because those numbers are more realistic. With unemployment so high with the youth there is no way the youth vote will match the 2008 numbers.

Going Right

June 6th, 2012
10:56 am

Sniper..one thing for sure, the $$ spent by the Walker forces DID NOT include the millions that the Unions put into play for his opponent.

Redcoat

June 6th, 2012
10:59 am

@djsnipper……..I guess it wasn’t as much of importance as previously reported.

20/20

June 6th, 2012
11:08 am

20/20
Is it just only slightly possible that the money available to Gov. Walker exceeded that of this opponent because outside of the unions, there was tepid interest in trying to overcome a better-than- 50/50 chance that Walker would win? I’ll give Obama credit for not wanting to further sully his good(?) name by “stopping by” and aiding Barrett. All is not lost for the Dems, however, as they did manage to retake control of the WI Senate. Good news for the Republicans there for they will now have the opportunity to “escape” voting for unpopular issues that don’t fit their constituency. Wonder what the press – particularly the ultra-liberal Sentinel-Journal will say about that?

DannyX

June 6th, 2012
11:09 am

“Let’s hear your spin on the Recall election results! ON WISCONSIN!!”

Here’s some spin for you, the recall election resulted in Republicans losing control of the Wisconsin senate. Yep, yet another Wisconsin state senator was recalled giving Democrats control of their senate.

20/20

June 6th, 2012
11:17 am

DannyX @11:09;
And what’s your take on the other 5 (of a total of 6) up for recall that won? Oh, I see that tremendous loss by Wanggaard (GOP incumbent) by an overwhelming 779 votes is really something to crow about!
OK, I’ll admit, it was a victory by another overwhelming percentage of .01086. Man is that ever convincing DannyX!

DJ Sniper

June 6th, 2012
11:21 am

It kills me how people on the right try to compare unions to these super PAC’s and what not that have come about as a result of Citizens United. Unions aren’t perfect by any means, but they are not the bad guys that the right have made them out to be. Sadly, far too many people have bought into that nonsense.

As for Walker, let’s hope that the criminal investigation against him results in his removal from office. His own guy recently turned on him for a promise of immunity.

Keep doing this GOP

June 6th, 2012
11:21 am

With unemployment so high with the youth there is no way the youth vote will match the 2008 numbers.

So the youth can not vote unless they have a job ?

i guess i better not give them anymore ideas about voter supression. Like the unemployed can not vote.

20/20

June 6th, 2012
11:35 am

Sniper:
I am going to assume by your insipid remark that you believe Obama does not have any Super Pacs in his re-election war chest. Is that what you’re saying?

I guess the union participants that occupied the Wisconsin State Capitol for weeks with their screaming, chanting and general mayhem were actually angelic bystanders? They were actually singing “Kumbaya” but for the noise and riotous behavior one could not determine that.
I haven’t read where anyone has characterized union members a “bad guys.” Indeed there are good members, particularly those that have been forced to join the unions in Wisconsin because they (the state) has no “right-to-work” laws. Are you saying that is wrong? Are you implying that (in some underhanded way) that it is OK for the unions to force membership on people?

Guess what? Literal thousands are abandoning the public unions in WI because they now have no reason to waste union dues on an organization that can no longer squeeze entitlements out of the voting public there.

If Walker did anything wrong you can bet your bottom dollar that those who wanted to crucify him last evening will make sure he will be brought to justice. My bet is he will be exonerated in spite of the enormous pressure to “get him.”

hiram

June 6th, 2012
11:47 am

The hatred of unions in the South comes from a era that some here would like to return to. And, relatively speaking, it wasn’t that long ago. Being from a Georgia mill town, I can remember many of the events described in Georgia State’s documentation. Arguing with people who are too lazy to study the background of what they are arguing about is a complete waste of time. For those interested, here is a link to historic facts about unions in the South:

http://research.library.gsu.edu/content.php?pid=313580&sid=2576463

PMC

June 6th, 2012
11:54 am

Investing is gambling, plenty of religious people do that.

George

June 6th, 2012
12:00 pm

Why should government workers be collectively bargained anyway?

Has there ever been one instance in which allowing collective bargaining led to better service or better products?

They always create massive entitlement issues that leave the organizations employing the unions in massive debt. They never result in better outcomes for the people employing them.

But hey I guess it’s good for mostly unskilled laborers though.

DJ Sniper

June 6th, 2012
12:03 pm

If Obama has to fight fire with fire, then so be it. Personally, PAC’s need to be eliminated on both sides. There’s entirely too much money corrupting politics these days.

Also, go do your research and you will find plenty of people who view unions as bad guys. Just google the term “union thugs”.

td

June 6th, 2012
12:20 pm

hiram

June 6th, 2012
11:47 am

Unions had their time and place and there is a place for them in the private sector. There is no place for unions in the public sector. In the private sector there is a stake for both the union and the employer and the stake is the business does not exist and both parties are out of a job if they can not agree to do what is in the best interest of the company. There is no stake for both parties in the public sector and the only one that loses is the taxpayer for bad union agreements.

How can you union supporters justify a person with no skill set and no HS education making $70,000 per year, nothing for healthcare coverage and get a pension (that they paid very little into it) of their salary for 20 to 30 years after they retire to pick up your garbage? How can you justify not being able to fire a teacher immediately that has been proven guilty of abusing your children? How can you justify a person working on an assembly line putting tires on your car making $70 to $100 per hour (Wages and benefits)?

Yes, let us talk about how the crazy the unions have become and how they need to be brought back under control.

Ray Brent Marsh

June 6th, 2012
12:30 pm

TD, I’ll make you a deal. Those of us who support unions and the idea behind them will try to “bring them back under control” and those of you who do not support the right to collective bargaining can stop your relentless campaign to discredit, disempower, and ultimately eliminate the labor movement.

Centrist

June 6th, 2012
12:35 pm

Following Wisconsin’s lead voters in two major California cities overwhelmingly approved cuts to retirement benefits for city workers in what supporters said was a mandate that may lead to similar ballot initiatives in other states and cities buried under mounting pension obligations. Public employee unions that aggressively fought the measures weren’t able to overcome the simple message supporters used to attract voters in San Diego and San Jose: Pensions for city workers are unaffordable and more generous than many private companies offer.

http://news.yahoo.com/2-california-cities-voters-embrace-pension-cuts-102049905–finance.html

Coming to a city/state near you – out of necessity as buying votes has come up against having to balance budgets. Not so for the federal government which can print more money and keep adding debt.

td

June 6th, 2012
12:40 pm

Ray Brent Marsh

June 6th, 2012
12:30 pm

Show me some proof that Unions have ever tried to bring themselves under control? I worked for Lockheed and was a member of machinist union and it was probably the strongest union in Georgia. I saw people sleeping at work being protected by the union and getting to keep their jobs. I saw people being caught drunk on the job and the union kept their jobs.

These are just a couple of examples of clear abuses of power and I can mention many other examples. I can also tell you that when it was layoff time the best workers were some of the first ones to go out the door because the unions protected seniority without even consideration for work ethic.

PatDowns

June 6th, 2012
1:11 pm

Galloway – we all know that if Gov. Walker had lost the recall election it would have been the lead story in “You morning jolt.” However, through your blatant leftist partisanship, the story was relegated (begrudgingly at that) to the newspaper equivalent of a page 16, below the fold item. Plus, you include the prerequisite apologist commentary. Here’s a truer analysis of the election results: Wisconsin voters, from both parties, sent the message that they are tired of recall politics tactics.

No Unions

June 6th, 2012
1:14 pm

Why are so many of you so consumed with “unions”? There are so few in this state and none for teachers (forbidden to engage in collective bargaining by the Ga. state constitution”. Are you still hoping that trickle down will work?

GaBlue

June 6th, 2012
1:52 pm

Be careful what seeds you plant in your garden. Heh….

Auntie Christ

June 6th, 2012
2:10 pm

You have to hand it to td, he is an accomplished conservative, adept as all conservatives are at adducing outliers to prove that “the system is rotten.” For example, the court system is rotten because a real criminal goes free on a ‘technicality’ (their favorite term when a judge rules prosecutors broke the law) without regard to the 100’s of innocents that are set free by the safeguards against prosecutorial misconduct. Despite the fact that 1000’s use the unemployment compensation program and public assistance programs as temporary safety nets before going on to lead useful productive lives, it is the occasional ‘welfare queen’ who is trotted out as proof positive that anyone on public assistance is an unrepentant slacker. Now td regales us with examples of employee abuses as proof that all unions exist only to protect the neer-do-wells of society. He conveniently disregards several important points in his narrative. Union reps, in cases like those cited by our narrator can only do one thing, ensure that all contractual obligations of the company have been followed. If a worker repeatedly violates a work place rule, and management has followed prescribed procedures, the union can do nothing about the punishment meted. If you saw workers drunk on the job or sleeping, blame management’s failure to follow procedure for the fact they weren’t fired, not the union. td your hypocrisy displayed here daily is appalling, railing against government while enjoying its benefits, railing against public schools tho they educated you, and railing against a union that got you time & 1/2 for overtime, protected YOUR seniority, allowed you to have 15 minute breaks twice or more a day, a forty hour work week, vacations and holidays. Do you honestly think Lockheed or any other good capitalist corporation would have afforded you those benefits out of the goodness of their capitalist hearts?

Eustis

June 6th, 2012
2:19 pm

Aren’t unions just another form of lobbyists?

td

June 6th, 2012
2:22 pm

Auntie Christ

June 6th, 2012
2:10 pm

“railing against government while enjoying its benefits, railing against public schools tho they educated you, and railing against a union that got you time & 1/2 for overtime, protected YOUR seniority, allowed you to have 15 minute breaks twice or more a day, a forty hour work week, vacations and holidays. ”

What benefits am I enjoying that I did not pay for? As for education then you really need to go back and check what I have written on these blogs. I have been against the Charter school movement since day one and have debated Kyle on the subject several times. I am a small business owner so I do not enjoy any of those other things you are talking about and most of my employees are contract labor so those rules do not apply to them as well.

Auntie Christ

June 6th, 2012
2:47 pm

td: “What benefits am I enjoying that I did not pay for?” Surely you’re not saying that your 1 hour/month union dues ‘paid’ for all the benefits I listed, are you? If you are, then you’re saying the drunk and sleepy also ‘paid’ to get the benefit of keeping their job, despite their egregious infractions.
Otherwise, thanks for being a voice against the misguided charter school initiatives.

Auntie Christ

June 6th, 2012
3:05 pm

And for the record, once again a bible thumper is shown to know nothing of the bible. The Book says nothing, nada, zilch, not a word regarding gambling, wagers, cards, dice or any games of chance. It does say however, a great deal about usury, mistreatment of the poor, charity and forgiveness. Ga pols never seem to remember those very real scriptures though.

Kris

June 6th, 2012
6:20 pm

”I’ve signed a pledge that IF ANY LOBBYIST needs a favor JUST SLIDE $36500 MY WAY….OOPS MY BAD I’m not a crooked money grabbing (GA GOP) politician .
My God republicans put the cap at 10 cents a day. and do something for the citizens of
GA. NO CASINOS.. Quit steeling from the poor.

Obama 2012

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