Behind two days of shotgunnin’ and golf coursin’

Last week, a number of lobbyists — those willing to part with up to $10,000 — were invited up to Adairsville for two days of fun with shooting irons and five irons in the company of Republican state senators.

It’s fair to ask why a group of golf coursin’, shotgunnin’ lawmakers might be important to you and yours. The explanation is complicated, very insiderish — and might require a second cup of coffee.

Got it? Good. Let’s begin.

November will answer two important political questions in Georgia. Neither has to do with the presidential contest. Mitt Romney is an all-but-sure bet to carry this state. The Republican candidate’s problems lie elsewhere.

Control of the charter school movement in Georgia is one piece of the Nov. 6 puzzle — a topic for another day. Control of one-half of the Legislature is the other.

Two years ago, Senate Republicans celebrated Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s re-election by stripping him of most of his authority over the chamber — in part because, months earlier, Cagle had forced a vote to approve a $96 million hospital bed tax to fill a hole in the state’s Medicaid budget.

Republican senators, led by President Pro Tem Tommie Williams of Lyons and Majority Leader Chip Rogers of Woodstock, declared it was time that members of their august chamber were allowed to govern themselves.

And they have done so — somewhat in the manner of the Committee of Public Safety in post-revolutionary France. No guillotines but plenty of chaos. The center of power in the Senate has become so blurry that lobbyists don’t know whose names to put on checks.

Gov. Nathan Deal has tolerated the situation for two years. It is the third year that is most important to a governor, often determining whether he’ll face a primary challenge when he seeks re-election — as Deal intends to do in 2014.

Huge issues await the Legislature in January. Budget cuts by a federal government teetering on a fiscal cliff will have their impact here. Who pays for whose dining and entertainment within the state Capitol has become an even more volatile topic. That hospital bed tax is about to expire. And a GOP revolt may be brewing over the new Falcons stadium.

All this and more has required the governor to develop a healthy interest in who runs the state Senate.

Williams, the Senate president pro tem, has decided to give up the top leadership position. Senators still loyal to the Revolution of 2010 have produced a slate of candidates to carry on, with Bill Cowsert of Athens as president pro tem and Rogers as majority leader.

They were among those who gathered in Adairsville last week for some golf and trap shooting. The beneficiary of the event was the Georgia Senatorial Republican Trust — the campaign-funding arm of the Republican caucus.

This summer, the trust handed $140,000 to an independent committee based in North Carolina so that it might spend unrestricted amounts of cash to defend Republican senators facing primary challenges.

Some senators complained about spending priorities. The lieutenant governor questioned the legality of the maneuver. On Sept. 10, he sent a note to senators saying he wouldn’t attend the golf-and-shotgun event intended to refill Senate Republican coffers.

“We do not have to cheat to win in November,” Cagle wrote. “I believe that my participation in the upcoming Trust fundraiser could hurt our cause by serving to wrongly legitimize conduct and decisions which are wholly unacceptable.”

Lawyers will ultimately determine whether state campaign finance laws were broken. So what did Cagle actually accomplish with his declaration? He turned the Adairsville event into a shoe-leather referendum on his future.

Senate GOP leaders in charge of the event declined all on-record opportunities to say which of their peers showed up or even how many. (A note circulated among senators declared the event would clear about $150,000.)

But as those senators were shooting pigeons and birdies, forces in the state Capitol were lining up behind two alternative candidates for the top Senate slots: David Shafer of Duluth for president pro tem and Ronnie Chance of Tyrone for majority leader. Chance is currently the governor’s floor leader.

Ross Tolleson of Perry, a third candidate for president pro tem, has agreed to be agreeable. “I’m not out of anything,” he said. “But I’m not out to be king of the hill.”

The 35 to 38 Republican senators expected to be elected Nov. 6 will make the final leadership decisions in the days or weeks that follow. Democrats can do little but marvel at the uncertainty.

“We are in an unprecedented moment. The absolute major positions in our state Senate are all in flux,” said state Sen. Jason Carter, D-Decatur. “The Judiciary Committee gets half of all legislation. Its chairman [Bill Hamrick of Carrollton] has recently left. No one knows who the rules chairman is going to be.

“Overlying everything — you don’t even know who’s going to make those appointments. Because you don’t know what kind of power the lieutenant governor is going to get back, or not,” Carter said.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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35 comments Add your comment


September 29th, 2012
9:14 am

Pretty clear and transparent this Senate is you think? This is the prime example that I give people that regardless of the (R) or (D) behind the person’s name a lot of those that we elect are corrupt or once they get into office corruptible.

[...] News Sources wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt [...]


September 29th, 2012
9:41 am

In the big picture, what really matters is whether the Senate has the freedom it needs for each senator to represent his or her constituents. In political philosophy, at least in the Western tradition, Locke, Montesquieu and others, provided very strong reasons for keeping the branches of government separate. It would be refreshing to see all elected officials study the principles of republican government so they could better protect the rights of the people. The legislature should make the laws without any interference from the executive branch. Any governance of the executive branch over a legislative body contravenes the republican ideal for the separation of powers. If the people want robust representation over the long haul, sometimes it takes a messy struggle to set things right again.

[...] News Sources wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt [...]

Rob Adkerson

September 29th, 2012
9:45 am

The Conservative movement in Georgia understands that this is about the old school political machine that is willing to bed down with ANYONE to maintain their power against the true Conservatives who are actually starting to make a difference and restore government to the vision of the Founders. Cagle represents the machine. He is Georgia’s version of Karl Rove. He’s some more truth on the subject

[...] News Sources wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt [...]

Road Scholar

September 29th, 2012
9:58 am

I know Cheney was not there, but did anyone get shot? Hit with a golf ball? And from reading the blogs, I thought that just President Obama played golf!

[...] News Sources wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt [...]

Just Nasty & Mean

September 29th, 2012
11:13 am

Look…Georgia can’t have the governor calling all the shots in the Legislature. It must remain independent of direct control of the executive branch else the balance of power is out of kilter.

Chip Rogers has done a notable job as Majority Leader, an outstanding spokesperson, and clearly deserves continuing. Ronnie Chance is a good man, but an extension of the governor’s influence directly into the Senate leadership is unacceptable-by any measure.

The Senator that has shown the most promise of ethics and honesty to lead the Senate is David Shafer, given he doesn’t “fold” to Cagle.

Attack Dog

September 29th, 2012
11:42 am

There is a big difference between true conservatives and southern conservatives is that SC’s {Dixiecrats} do not care about the real working class.


September 29th, 2012
1:11 pm

“In the big picture, what really matters is whether the Senate has the freedom it needs for each senator to represent his or her constituents.”

Name one politician in Georgia who represents his or her constituents – they represent only themselves. That’s the reason that they totally dismantled the office that monitors their ethics. How else would politicians, who enter office bankrupt, leave office filthy rich?

No Way

September 29th, 2012
1:14 pm

There is no way Ronnie Chance would run against Chip Rogers. They are best friends.


September 29th, 2012
1:21 pm

Chips best friend is running against him. Chip has betrayed his caucus and his district.

The whole house of cards is collapsing.


September 29th, 2012
2:10 pm

@ Buckhead “Chips best friend is running against him. Chip has betrayed his caucus and his district.

The whole house of cards is collapsing.”

The GOP has betrayed the citizens of Georgia with their Backbiting, BOONDOGGLE/POCKET lining scams on tax payers
(ts-plost now the charter school SCAMS).

If politicians and Governor (term loosely used) want to outsource the responsibility of the state govt, then I suggest we out source their jobs to China or the Philippines.

In the mean time lets help the house of cards continue ti fall/fail.

Impeach DEAL
RecaLL Rogers and his cronies.


September 29th, 2012
5:53 pm

Are they going to ask taxpayers to reimburse them (travel, meals , lodging) for this 2 day event? This sounds like personal business to me. Anyone out there know?

Big John

September 29th, 2012
6:41 pm

It is not official business FAQ, so no they will not reimbursed.

Come on Jim, tell us who was and was not there. I know that you know.


September 29th, 2012
7:01 pm

If lobbyist were there yes there probably was some pocket lining…This is GA no ethics required.

Yea Jim tell us who was there and how many closed/locked door meetings was held.


September 29th, 2012
10:33 pm

So Ethics Reform (Joke) at the putt and shoot will be the main topic… to undermine the public trust by planning a better way to cover bribes. The story never ends!


September 29th, 2012
11:34 pm

Georgia’s citizens – the ones who know what the hell is going on – should pool their money and hire private investigators to record their every move. Usually, if a spouse suspects that their partner is cheating on them, they are more often correct, than not, and it doesn’t take very long to find it out.
Political corruption is not inevitable – it only happens when the citizens allow it to.


September 30th, 2012
12:11 am

All this talk about true conservatives…there is no such thing. For there a true conservative.means that an actual philosophy for the movement exists, but there is none…because it is a movement and nothing more.

This GOP identity crisis will continue so long as people believe conservativism is anything more than the marketing scheme it has been since day 1.

And guess what? It has worked! On November 6th, millions of self proclaimed conservatives will go out to vote for Mitt Romney because of this marketing scheme. Then they will tell themselves that it is okay because the alternative is a black Christian that did not make his wealth off of an inheritance coupled with outsourcing American jobs.


September 30th, 2012
1:22 am

Another example of why term limits and campaign reform are desperately needed both on the local and national level. The politicians spend every waking moment working to get relected and forget the real idea behind public service. Of course reform and term limits won’t solve every evil but it would be a good start.


September 30th, 2012
1:39 am

@ aaa ” Of course reform and term limits won’t solve every evil but it would be a good start.”

I agree, good place to stat. Perhaps a good old fashioned Impeachment and a few recalls might get their attention….

Attack Dog

September 30th, 2012
5:35 am

You are probably a Dixiecrat if you say, “both sides do it.” Get real folks, a southern or rural conservative is the same, no matter which party they hijack.

Attack Dog

September 30th, 2012
5:41 am

You are probably a Dixiecrat if you said that you voted for Deal over Handel because he was the lesser of two evils, but better than Barnes. We see what one got you and the other showed you what would have happened.

Ol' Timer

September 30th, 2012
7:45 am

This batch of Republicans remind me of the ol’ saying about the dog chasing a car. . . .”if he caught it, he couldn’t drive it.”


September 30th, 2012
7:51 am

Anyone who took 5 minutes to vet Deal on Google, would have voted for Barnes, Handel, or no one, if they were actually concerned with the outcome. That is, unless they subscribe to the “all the media is biased” idiocy, used as the last resort defense of the undefensible.

Whirled Peas

September 30th, 2012
8:36 am

Georgia is indeed a conservative state. Why does it have a liberal newspapers and liberal Republicans in office? The Cox family must be disgusted with the leftist rag that their paper has become. They sat by passively while liberal hacks like Jim Galloway and Bookman ran this once-great paper into the ground.


September 30th, 2012
8:39 am

If you do not see a candidate ’s face and the words I approve this advertisement, then know that your vote is being bought by wealthy/multi-national corporations who took our good paying jobs to China. They give donations, many undisclosed so you do not know who gave to about 600 super Pacs including Crossroads, Rove, KOCH Bros, American Prosperity, yu can google names at end of advertisement to see who is buying you.
75% of super pac money is going to tell lies/half-truths about democrats.
There was a list in Wash post newspaper 9/28/12 for donations, from election commision. 144 million for rommey and 44 million for obama, these were million/multi-million donations.
Adelson, gave the most 40 million to Rommey. he is being investigated, i think his casinos, he is most interested in war with IRan, see Netanyaho AD
in Florida trying to get Jewish vote for rommey. Google netanyaho/Rommey.
Rommey said he will increase defense budget 2 trillion , cut taxes for wealthy so more debt.
Adeleson, google him


September 30th, 2012
9:23 am

10/9/12 is last day you can register to vote in
go to gottaregister, gottavote and make sure your voting record has not been changed by a GOP firm Strategic Allied consultants, [fraud florida]

Owner had another company in early 2000’s where they were destroying democrat’s voter register applications, reported to Bush attorney general but nothing done.
That is perfect story for you to see why it is important to get your news from more than Fox/limbaugh. Compare their coverage of it to MSNBC. CNN.
other on line newspapers, google , read some tallahassee papers.
If you continue take one story you heard about on fox/limbaugh/other right wing media, google, if politics check republican /democrats votes on congress-non-partisan, you can see what they do not, not lies they tell you to buy your vote]. look at what CNN, MSNBC, other news media say and see who is giving most objective complete coverage. We can analyze the truth for ourselves unless our goal is to push lies on workers to get them to vote against their best interest , their pocketbook.

Over 30 years of mostly Republican/norquist policy wealthy income up 251%, workers up 12%[inflation adjusted[google workingman party/c-span]: Republican tax cuts for rich so jobs will trickle down to American workers has allowed wealthy/multinational corporations to send jobs to overseas worker/china(pay 2.00 a day) and destroy good manufacturing jobs which paid enough so workers could pay federal income taxes. 41% of Georgians are among Rommeys 47% moochers [rommey video 5/14/12-c-span].

Shafer is my Man for the job!

September 30th, 2012
9:45 am

David Shafer is only Senator in line for leadership who can get the GA State Senate back to the great deliberative body it once was.

Imagine, Senators actually debating an issue rather than wasting their time discussing where to go to dinner and which blond lobbyist will pay for it…

Imagine actually hearing legislation in the Senate without having to do something favorable in exchange for Tommy or Chip…


September 30th, 2012
10:17 am


Good luck, you can’t fix stupid.


September 30th, 2012
10:54 am

Tommie William’s slate idea was obviously a bad one. The majority of senators do not want Williams to select leadership for next year. That is for the Republican caucus to decide. Philanderers and people who will steal from their own caucus funds to get re-elected need not apply. The senate needs a reformation and it is coming. The sun is setting on the Williams/Rogers/Cowsert experiment.


September 30th, 2012
12:06 pm

Hiram brings up an interesting idea, the private investigator and spouses suspecting cheating. I have seen the show “Cheaters” on tv. I think a spin-off “Political Cheaters” might be a great idea. Personally, I don’t care who they are “sleeping with”, but who they are “in bed” with does affect me personally.


September 30th, 2012
12:14 pm

you people keep complaining about politicians and their behavior…you are the ones to blame. you are the morons that fall for that “i am a conservative” b/s and cast your ballot for the (R).

Term limits will only make things worse (just like they have everywhere else they have been instituted). The only thing less honest than a politician is a politician who can not be held accountable by an election.

Aside from wanting the government to intervene in the bedroom and doctor’s office, a nascent ethnocentrism, and a dash of nationalism…what is a true conservative?

There is no answer: because conservativism is not a philosophy. It is a movement. Because of this there is no standard to apply aside from those stupid litmus tests the GOP has during the primary. After all, what is the GOP primary other than a contest to see who is willing to discriminate against non-evangelists, gays, and other political minorities the most?


September 30th, 2012
12:20 pm

I forgot to make comment on Republican Senators/REp. /war mongers talking about going to war in Iran.
Google how all went to Israel.
Google Israel/Netanyaho , Rommey’s good buddy and see how rommey has gotten him involved in our politics. Look at Logan/constitution, Who is responsible for foreign affairs, one president at a time.

Now on criticism of rice about story changing on libya, how many investigations, how long did it take, how many time were facts updated, on Nixon watergate, Bush 9/11, Reagan 200 + Marines killed in barracks in lebanon, Oliver North Iran/contra. you can google these examples and many more.
Republicans need to shut up until Obama finds and brings Libya terrorists to justice/ remember ben Laden, other terrorists and anybody hanging with a terrorist also needs to die, they are terrorist in training.

Obama does not bluff, talk big in public, make enemies with his mouth but takes action.

Republicans need to review our history The American Revolution and civil war.
Do they think England’s friends just laid down or how to you think southeners felt about north burning out their houses and carpetbaggers ruling them.
Each country’s people in the world have the right to fight for what they want and who they want to rule them. butt out war mongers/republicans, anyone else.

Libya amb. Cris stevens knew better than anyone if it was safe to leave his better protected embassy in tripoli and travel to terrorist/gunned area on 9/11/12. He was there during their uprising against their dictator/Mccain was there too.
Sen. Mccain is always trying to get us in more unpaid wars, google him; I wonder how much money he has in military industrial complex, General Eisenhower warned against in the 1950’s.

He was just on CNN talking about Afgan and Iraq, does he expect us to borrow from China and spend spend on Defense and send more poor/middle class to die while rich stay home.

We are borrowing and spending trillions to be the world policeman.

If unsettled countries cannot protect American embassy/people/travelers, we need to close the embassy until they tell us they want us and can protect us.

We do not want to send military there, Google 248 Marines killed in barrack bombing in Lebanon,
Reagan did not bomb them or send more marines to protect embassy either.
Travelers/corporations,get your butts out of unsafe places, do not expect military to come to your aid.

Invest your money here in the United States, we need jobs.