Nathan Deal: ‘I never pledged away my First Amendment rights’

Gov. Nathan Deal on Wednesday evening gave his strongest endorsement yet of a sales tax for transportation, pushing back against those who have criticized him for betraying a no-tax pledge by declaring that he hadn’t signed away his First Amendment rights.

At issue is a Americans for Tax Reform pledge that Deal signed in 2010, as a candidate for governor, that said he would “would oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes.”

On the 18th floor of an Atlantic Station building, at a rally of corporate fundraisers, Deal – with Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle at his side — offered this defense:

”First of all, the pledge relates to new taxes that were going to be initiated by legislative action. And as you know, the only tax reform and tax changes that have been initiated since I’ve been governor have been to cut taxes. Last year was a major example of that, to be able to eliminate the sales tax on energy for manufacturing, so we can create more jobs. To increase by $2,000 the couples’ exemptions on their tax returns, to eliminate the marriage tax penalty.

“Now, for those who would interpret [the pledge] that way, I have two things to say. First of all, I never signed a pledge to give away my First Amendment rights. And my First Amendment rights are to advocate whatever I see fit. And as an individual, I do advocate for it.

“Secondly, as a governor, I am advocating for it because this is not a legislatively imposed tax. It is a tax increase that the people themselves will decide about. And for those who say otherwise, it seems to me that they would take away the right of the people to express their opinions of this importance.”

Was this the right time to ask voters for a tax increase? a reporter asked the governor. His reply:

”I’m not asking them, other than to ask them to use their good conscience and to use their good judgment to decide whether or not, in their region, the projects that are proposed to be funded are worthwhile to them, to their families, to their businesses, and to their region. These projects are the kinds of things that not only sustain communities, they also enrich communities by providing more job opportunities.

“And as you know, that has been the top priority for my administration – the creation of new jobs. New jobs are not going to come if people can’t get their employees to their jobs in a timely fashion.”

Afterwards, I asked Cagle if he, too, had felt the push-back from the Grover Norquist contingent of the Republican party. His reply:

”I learned early in my political career, when you do the right thing, you follow your convictions, you don’t have to worry about the consequences. Certainly there are those that disagree with my position. And that’s okay.

“But everyone knows where I stand. I’m about Georgia. I love this state, and I think this is a very historic moment, no different than the big bold steps we’ve taken with the ports and the airport and even MARTA…. The ability to announce to the world that we have an $8 billion investment going into transportation is big news.”

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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106 comments Add your comment


June 13th, 2012
9:27 pm

Georgia’s people are doomed to our biggest tax increase yet.


June 13th, 2012
9:28 pm

Cagle is a moron and a disgrace.

Let’s raise taxes 25% across the board so we can tell everyone we have a bunch of money to spend. wooohoooo.


June 13th, 2012
9:31 pm

Let’s see………another sales tax to go along with:
Accounts Receivable Tax
Building Permit Tax
Capital Gains Tax
CDL license Tax
Cigarette Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Court Fines (indirect taxes)
Dog License Tax
Federal Income Tax
Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
Fishing License Tax
Food License Tax
Fuel permit tax
Gasoline Tax (42 cents per gallon)
Hunting License Tax
Inheritance Tax Interest expense (tax on the money)
Inventory tax IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax)
IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
Liquor Tax
Local Income Tax
Luxury Taxes
Marriage License Tax
Medicare Tax
Property Tax
Real Estate Tax
Septic Permit Tax
Service Charge Taxes
Social Security Tax
Road Usage Taxes (Truckers)
Sales Taxes
Recreational Vehicle Tax
Road Toll Booth Taxes
School Tax
State Income Tax
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
Telephone federal excise tax
Telephone federal universal service fee tax
Telephone federal, state and local surcharge taxes
Telephone minimum usage surcharge tax
Telephone recurring and non-recurring charges tax
Telephone state and local tax
Telephone usage charge tax
Toll Bridge Taxes
Toll Tunnel Taxes
Traffic Fines (indirect taxation)
Trailer registration tax
Utility Taxes
Vehicle License Registration Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Watercraft registration Tax
Well Permit Tax
Workers Compensation Tax


June 13th, 2012
9:39 pm

Some will say Deal is a RINO. I judged him harshly, however he has been impressive. Same goes for the Mayor.


June 13th, 2012
9:39 pm

This is going to be Deal’s waterloo. I’ll be donating to any warm body who runs against him in the GOP primary, and if that doesn’t pan out, I’ll vote Democratic. I can’t stand hypocrites.


June 13th, 2012
9:47 pm

To get access to all these taxes a candidate will spend $millions to get a $200,000.a year job.


June 13th, 2012
9:48 pm

Amen Chris…

@ Randy

I think you left off the corrupt governor tax. Impeach double Dip under the table deal.

Vote no on T-spolst


June 13th, 2012
9:55 pm

deal: you lie!

another dishonest politician, saying one thing to get elected, something different in office, after pressure from big money contributors. Did they pay off those millions in debts that deal had???

Cobb resident & voter

June 13th, 2012
9:57 pm

In the June 11, 2012 online edition of the Marietta Daily Journal, Governor Deal answered questions about the TSPLOST projects as compared to the Northwest Corridor project (see below). It’s likely that his lukewarm responses concerning the TSPLOST and its projects caused a furor among his friends and business associates who are pushing for passage of the new tax. I’d bet money that Governer Deal was compelled to come out in support of the TSPLOST this Wednesday evening because it seemed obvious from his answers that he believes the Northwest Corridor Project along I-75 and I-575 is superior to the TSPLOST project list and will relieve much congestion through Cobb thus making the TSPLOST unnecessary.

Q. Why not try this going south of the Galleria on I-75 instead of the possible rail line or Bus Rapid Transit earmarked in the TSPLOST?

A. The northern leg appears to be where most of the congestion is located, even though that’s not to discount the fact that there is congestion on 75 from the south side coming into Atlanta. That is also a congested area, but this one I think in everybody’s mind had the highest priority.

Q. Why do you think building these reversible lanes is the superior solution to say, something Atlanta Regional Commission Chairman Tad Leithead wants, which is light rail?

A. I’m not going to get involved in that because that was not something that I had any control over … I do support the TSPLOST. But I felt like from the standpoint of what was achievable and what we knew would produce positive results, this was the better place to put this money.


June 13th, 2012
10:00 pm

Job creation for own family & cronies.


June 13th, 2012
10:03 pm

Never listen to a career politician, they all lie!


June 13th, 2012
10:05 pm

@ double You got it family and cronies….on a deal this dirty be on the lookout for Sonny dodo.

I wonder if Thrasher Contracting and C.W. Matthews were at this alleged corporate fundraisers with Deal – with sidekick Cagle at his side ……Bet ya some pockets got some additional lining.

joe b

June 13th, 2012
10:07 pm


June 13th, 2012
10:16 pm

What did you expect? Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior – dismantling all ethics oversight coming out of the gates should have been your first clue as to his plans. And, you won’t get the opportunity to defeat him in a primary – odds are, he’s planning on cashing in his chips after one term.


June 13th, 2012
10:18 pm



June 13th, 2012
10:18 pm

Wow. Even Republicans hate Republicans. Cool.

[...] never signed a pledge to give away my First Amendment rights,” Deal said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “And my First Amendment rights are to advocate whatever I see fit. and as an individual, I [...]


June 13th, 2012
10:21 pm

Deal isn’t a Republican, he only plays one during the campaign.


June 13th, 2012
10:21 pm

Deal is wrong on this one and I will not vote the way he wants. Vote NO on the tax increase.

Toes The Line

June 13th, 2012
10:25 pm

@Randy, good for you we don’t have a whiner’s tax. You’d go broke.


June 13th, 2012
10:27 pm

After the syndicate of contractors, who have their sites set on your wallets, get through relentlessly bombarding you with propaganda, you will probably change your mind. The politicians were just their first purchase.


June 13th, 2012
10:28 pm

here’s the PLEDGE again. Don’t people understand that a promise to do nothing in office is not a reason to elect a PLEDGEr?

Wes Haley

June 13th, 2012
10:33 pm

I was really stumped when this guy one the primary. He smelled like a crook and he looked like a crook and he talked like a crook. He had shady things in his past that should not have gotten him elected. I was really shocked to see him win. Now we reap all the things that his past and his character foretold about him.


June 13th, 2012
10:35 pm

People who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it…


June 13th, 2012
10:37 pm

how ’bout a road rage tax.


June 13th, 2012
10:41 pm

This may be a blessing in disguise – people may actually start Googling a politician’s name and reading about their record before they vote for them. Where there is smoke there is usually fire.

Silent Majority

June 13th, 2012
10:42 pm

As a person that has voted for every Republican since Bo Callaway, I will agree with the Governor on his interpretation. If you don’t like the TSPLOST, then don’t vote for this important infrastructure project. However, I don’t believe that giving the citizens the right to tax themselves on whatever they deem important could be considered voting for a tax increase.

Republicans are supposed to use our brains, logic and reason.


June 13th, 2012
10:49 pm

Silent Majority
June 13th, 2012
10:42 pm

” If you don’t like the TSPLOST, then don’t vote for THIS IMPORTANT INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECT.”

Do your employees drive green trucks?


June 13th, 2012
10:51 pm

Deal simply got “skewered on his on petard” by pandering so much to the Tea People. Kind of amusing.


June 13th, 2012
10:57 pm

Nathan Deal: Among “15 Most Corrupt Members of Congress”

Cause and Consequences
• Cause: Con artists pretend to be politicians. Saxby, Deal and Graves etc.
• Consequences: {voters get screwed} God bless the poor they work harder and get poorer.
• Prevention: Confirm online their past. Too bad politicians’ don’t need a license (never mind they would sign a petition that they have one.


June 13th, 2012
10:57 pm

Reasonably Smart

June 13th, 2012
10:57 pm

At last a politician doing the right thing. I thought I did not like this guy, but he has shown a sensible side I can really appreciate.


June 13th, 2012
11:00 pm

He had to disarm the tea people to get to the till.


June 13th, 2012
11:00 pm

Nathan Deal: Among “15 Most Corrupt Members of Congress”
Cause and Consequences
• Cause: Con artists pretend to be politicians. Saxby, Deal and Graves.
• Consequences: {voters get screwed} and the sick get sicker. God bless the poor they work harder and get poorer.
• Prevention: Confirm online their past. Too bad politicians’ don’t need a license (never mind they would sign a petition that they have one.


June 13th, 2012
11:02 pm

Rail. Rail. Rail. and Rail. Do you get my point? Plan it, plan it out 50 years, and the developers will build along with it. Rail.


June 13th, 2012
11:04 pm

Notice it’s a Republican Governor supporting a tax increase on July 31. And it was a Republican Governor who reneged on the promises made to Georgia citizens concerning doing away with the Georgia 400 tolls once the bonds were paid. I suspect Democrats would have done the same thing, but it’s the Republican Party that claims to be the Party of NO taxes.

Awake in Civics Class

June 13th, 2012
11:06 pm

What, exactly, does the First Amendment have to do with any of this?

*Congress shall make no law* respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Get a pocket Constitution, Nathan. Sheesh.

Jiggle the Handle

June 13th, 2012
11:13 pm

As a Southern Progressive, I couldn’t have been more against Deal during the campaign, –his policies, his platform, and most of all, his shady “extra-curricular” activities which I won’t re-hash here.

However, as Guv’nor, he hasn’t been the disaster I feared. I don’t like his ideology one bit, but he seems to be governing with a “do no harm” approach. Much more moderate than I anticipated.

If he pushes back against Ol’ Grover and supports the Regional Transportation Plan, then I’ll give him a tip of the hat. Most of those goobers in the GA Legislature have no spine or character, so let’s leave it to the People of GA to do the right thing and address the hard problems we face.


June 13th, 2012
11:22 pm

You’re misinterpreting Deal’s motives. The “tea people” are about future votes – going along with the contractors, is about cash in hand. It’s the old bird in the h..and proverb.


June 13th, 2012
11:29 pm

What you tighty rightes don’t understand is cutting programs alone wont solve the problem. A intelligent course of tax increases and programs cut has to occur. This is 2012. Programs and taxes of the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s wont work. It is stupid to think cuts and/or no new taxes only will do the trick. A pledge never to raise taxes is pandering/vote buying. The price of everything goes up. So must taxes.


June 13th, 2012
11:38 pm

Awake asks, “What…does the first amendment have to do with any of this?”

The Governor’s point is that Grover and his chippy pals are off base – that he (theGov) is free to speak out in favor of a decision that the people can make and that that doesn’t have any relation to the boneheaded pledges made.


June 13th, 2012
11:39 pm

Taxpayers’ hard earned money is the politicians’ crack.

Just say “NO”.

Pizzaman: May I suggest you take a couple of econ courses. And don’t write on the subject of taxation, the economy, or economics until you’ve made an “A” in at least a couple of the courses.

Tracy Williams

June 13th, 2012
11:43 pm

Our governor has the right name: Deal. And he deals!!!!!


June 13th, 2012
11:46 pm

Because circumstances are fluid….political pledges are pure uncut idiocy of the highest order.

Florida guy

June 13th, 2012
11:54 pm

The problem here is that while this project may be worth funding, the government will be the responsible for using our money to fix a problem. The government hasn’t been responsible enough to fix a problem since our ancestors were stupid enough to let them invoke an income tax and flood Washington and various state capitols with money. Vote no because history tells us this is more money down the drain, or in some legislator’s (or their cousin’s paving company) pocket.


June 14th, 2012
12:06 am

I didn’t support Deal for Governor, but I agree with his position on the TSPLOST. First, his support for this effort is NOT a retraction of his pledge for no new taxes. In this case, the legislature and governor are not passing a new tax. Instead, they are giving the citizens the right to tax themselves (if they see fit). Our forefathers complained about taxation without representation, but this is the polar opposite … the tax can’t pass unless the people are willing to do it to themselves.

Second, while most state taxpayers would be reluctant to pay more money to alleviate traffic in metro Atlanta, the T-SPLOST gives each of us the opportunity to pay for transportation improvements in our own district. Thus, those in the metro area can determine their own fate, but that won’t necessarily have a direct impact on people in other regions of the state.

Finally, I personally plan to vote in favor of the tax. As Roger Miller once sang, I’m a “man of means by no means”, but I have a 100+ mile per day commute, and I know how beneficial many of the proposed projects will be. Granted, not all of them will help me specifically … but I don’t mind paying to help someone else improve their commute. I like the fact that we’re actually looking FORWARD and trying to anticipate future needs for ourselves, our children, and our fellow Georgians.


June 14th, 2012
12:19 am

Republicans of Georgia: What did you expect when you elected a governor who had to leave Congress in disgrace b/c of ethics violations!?! Did you think he would come home, have a moment of clarity, and become honest or care about anybody but his cronies!
You got what you voted for! Now, DEAL WITH IT!!


June 14th, 2012
12:26 am

From the AJC in 2010:

U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal, a Republican candidate for governor in 2010, personally intervened with Georgia leaders to preserve an obscure state program that earns his company nearly $300,000 a year.
Deal on three occasions in the past year and a half met with state Revenue Commissioner Bart Graham to question proposed changes Graham wanted to make in the way Georgia inspects rebuilt salvaged vehicles. Deal coordinated his efforts through the office of a political ally, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.
Also, Deal’s chief of staff used his congressional e-mail account to contact Georgia Senate and Revenue Department staff to discuss the plans and to set appointments for Deal to meet with officials, including Cagle.
Deal and Ken Cronan own and operate Recovery Services Inc., also known as Gainesville Salvage & Disposal, which for nearly 20 years has enjoyed a lucrative agreement with the state that earned the company $1.5 million from 2004 through 2008, according to state records. The company provides a location and equipment for state inspectors to examine salvaged vehicles. Deal and Cronan never had to compete for the business, state officials said.
Deal personally earns up to $150,000 a year from the enterprise, according to reports he files with the U.S. House.
Graham has tried for years to expand the system through competitive bidding or privatization.
Ultimately, Deal prevailed; the program, which at least two state leaders call a monopoly, remains unchanged — for the time being.
Deal, a top contender to replace Gov. Sonny Perdue, says he has done nothing wrong and has acted as any business owner and citizen would in speaking to state officials about a program he says saves lives and brings revenue to state coffers. He also said he has often worked with state officials on issues important to constituents.

Once a crook, always a crook!

Harry Gorilla

June 14th, 2012
12:36 am

Sounds like a real Deal breaker to me…

I like him, OK; but, he’s never sent me running for a dictionary.

Isn’t there anyone else out there in The GOP that DIDN’T learn from George H. W. Bush?

Harry Gorilla

June 14th, 2012
12:40 am

Call it TSPLOST, SPLOST; what ever you want. The last four letters are LOST!