Archive for the ‘Georgia Legislature’ Category

Why Chip Rogers’ new GPB job fails the cronyism test

(Left to right) State Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, hosts a July 2012  press conference -- along with Sen. John Albers, Rep. Sean Jerguson, and Rep. Ed Setzler – to voice opposition to TSPLOST. Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com

(Left to right) State Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, hosts a July 2012 press conference — along with Sen. John Albers, Rep. Sean Jerguson, and Rep. Ed Setzler – to voice opposition to TSPLOST. Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com

Years ago at the state Capitol, if you truly wanted to do a friend a favor, you fired him.

Under a quirk in state law, laid-off workers received an immediate, life-time pension. Many well-connected state employees, some in their forties, waltzed into early retirement in this manner.

There are those who point to former state Senate majority leader Chip Rogers, now Georgia Public Broadcasting’s most famous employee, as yet another example of this kind of cronyism. But that is like mistaking a bream for a large-mouth bass.

Right genus — and still fishy — but wrong species.

In fact, the Rogers affair is the mirror image of the state’s old “involuntary separation” law. Instead of firing a friend, Gov. Nathan Deal has arranged employment for a …

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An ‘Atlanta Dream’ candidate for U.S. Senate?

I was talking this morning to one of the more seasoned Republican operatives in Georgia, who told me of an effort to bring some new names into the 2014 race for Senate and the congressional contests that could open up as a result.

Atlanta Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler is vice president of investor relations and corporate communications at Intercontinental Exchange. Vino Wong/vwong@ajc.com

Atlanta Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler is vice president of investor relations and corporate communications at Intercontinental Exchange. Vino Wong/vwong@ajc.com

The profile under emphasis: Young, wealthy, business-oriented, conservative but not hide-bound, and an outsider to both Georgia and Washington politics.

Which brings us to the two owners of the Atlanta Dream, the WNBA team. Mary Brock fits four of the five categories – philanthropically, she and her husband have heaped cash upon Georgia Tech and Emory University.

But it is the younger Kelly Loeffler that rings bells. She serves as the spokeswoman for IntercontinentalExchange, which just purchased the New York Stock Exchange. She’s got an MBA from DePaul University.

More to the point, last …

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Your daily jolt: Paul Broun’s wife declares he’s running for U.S. Senate

Ready or not, here comes Paul Broun.

Karen Handel, the former Republican candidate for governor, was supposed to the featured attraction at a Tuesday night meeting of Georgia C.H.A.R.G.E (Citizens Helping America Restore Government Ethics).

Then an unscheduled Republican congressman from Athens arrived with his wife and a staffer in tow. Broun spoke, but stopped short of announcing a 2014 run for the U.S. Senate. We’ll let Andrew O’Shea of Viral Read take you the rest of the way:

As Congressman Broun sat down to a room full of applause followed by a short silence, Dr. Broun’s wife, Niki, stood up in front of the crowd and courageously declared that not only did her husband have her permission and support to run to be Georgia’s next junior U.S. Senator, but that he was openly announcing his candidacy, the first to formally do so in the wake of Senator Chambliss’ declaration to resign following the remainder of his current term.

This morning, we called O’Shea, a Republican …

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House ethics bill would require Grover Norquist to register as lobbyist?

House Speaker David Ralston has dropped his bill that contains a total ban on gifts from lobbyists to state lawmakers:

Ralston said his bill, introduced Tuesday, also restores the state ethics commission’s ability to create new regulations and provides a specific ban on tickets to nearly all sporting events and concerts.

Along the way, my AJC colleague Chris Joyner talked to House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams of Atlanta, who said the broader definition of lobbyists contained in the measure should capture “fly-in lobbyists, those corporate folks who come in and aren’t captured by anyone’s rules.”

That also would include some specific people who work for non-profit pressure groups, she said. Abrams had someone specific in mind:

“I think Grover Norquist has had an outsized influence on the way we discuss and debate issues here at the Capitol. I think anyone who can change the direction of a state should be considered a lobbyist and should be captured by our rules and …

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Sonny Perdue takes himself out of 2014 race for Senate

Former Gov. Sonny Perdue has declared himself out of a 2014 contest to replace U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, but placed himself on the side of Republicans who believe the party has become too rigid in its approach.

In a statement e-mailed this morning, the governor declared himself “flattered” by the support that has been offered, but cited his reasons for avoiding the contest: A dozen grandchildren, business obligations and “a loving and devoted wife who has absolutely no interest in living in Washington.” From his statement:

Gov. Sonny Perdue has removed himself from the long list of Republicans considering a 2014 run for the U.S. Senate. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Gov. Sonny Perdue has removed himself from the long list of Republicans considering a 2014 run for the U.S. Senate. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

“Our country deserves more than the current dysfunction in Washington D.C. and our party needs to return to problem-solving conservatism. We have an opportunity, led by the examples of Republican Governors across the nation, to prove to the country that we are the party that can rise above the dogma and …

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Your daily jolt: If Saxby Chambliss is frustrated with Washington, what do his BFFs think?

Neither the transcript nor the video is available as I write this, but on NBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews” on Sunday, Chuck Todd noted one of the many implications of U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ decision not to run for a third term.

One of Chambliss’ best friends in Washington, Todd noted, is House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. If Chambliss is frustrated enough to abandon Washington, Boehner may be, too.

There’s another leg to that stool. Chambliss’ other BFF in Washington is U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson. The two have been together since their halcyon days at the University of Georgia in Athens. (Where Chambliss will appear today with U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.)

Isakson has already declared himself a certainty to run for re-election in 2016. “Absolutely,” said one aide last night. But the man who will soon become Georgia’s senior senator has also just been named to the Senate Finance Committee, which will be at the center of any further negotiations over federal debt, …

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Your daily jolt: 122,949 white Georgia voters went missing in 2012 presidential race

Black voters in Georgia turned out for the November presidential election at nearly the same rate as they did in 2008, while white voter turnout dropped measurably, according to demographic statistics released this week by Secretary of State Brian Kemp.

Usually calculated in the weeks following an election, a spokesman for Kemp said the statistics – gathered as required by the Voting Rights Act — were delayed by incomplete numbers from Fulton County. But the breakdown remains doubly important for political wonks, given that Georgia wasn’t included in any exit polling.

Last November, Republican challenger Mitt Romney beat Democratic incumbent Barack Obama in Georgia by 53 to 46 percent, doing slightly better than John McCain against Obama (52 percent to 47 percent) four years earlier.

But behind the percentages are some numbers that, in a state where race and voting preference run parallel to each other, ought to concern Republicans. White voter participation dropped by 122,949 …

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A woodshed season for John Barge

State Superintendent John Barge consults with a staffer following a hearing before a joint meeting of the House and Senate budget committees. Jason Getz/jgetz@ajc.com

State Superintendent John Barge consults with a staffer following a hearing before a joint meeting of the House and Senate budget committees. Jason Getz/jgetz@ajc.com

A season of punishment has begun for state School Superintendent John Barge – payback for his opposition to last year’s ballot measure restoring the state’s power to create charter schools throughout Georgia.

But at the state Capitol, the first rule of fight club is that you don’t talk about fight club. Those throwing the punches don’t want to appear vindictive. Those on the receiving end know that things could get ever so much worse.

This week, it was Barge’s duty to go before state lawmakers to explain educational spending in Gov. Nathan Deal’s $19.8 billion proposed budget for next year. Unless you had the document in front of you, you would never have known that Deal had shrunk Barge’s central office budget from $87 million to $27 million.

The governor had really, really liked that charter school measure.

But …

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Your daily jolt: GPB producer resigns over hiring of Chip Rogers

News that former state Sen. Chip Rogers has been given an executive position at Georgia Public Broadcasting with a hefty starting salary of $150,000 has prompted the resignation of a longtime executive producer at the network.

Click here to read the resignation letter from Ashlie Wilson Pendley to GPB President and CEO Teya Ryan, sent to us this morning by Bryan Long of Better Georgia. Here’s the meat:

I know that you have faced a variety of challenges and difficult decisions in the last four years since you assumed leadership of GPB. I’ve witnessed four rounds of layoffs. I’ve watched the outsourcing of the sales staff, the IT helpdesk and most recently, Master Control operations. I have loyally accepted stagnant wages for the last five years, even while the cost of my benefits has increased- even in the times when furloughed- because I believed GPB was an organization that was worth the sacrifice and the hard work.

In December, it became public that GPB was hiring former …

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Paul Broun on Saxby Chambliss challenge: ‘How can you not think about it?’

However coyly, U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, R-Athens, this morning admitted he’s thinking about a 2014 primary challenge to Sen. Saxby Chambliss.

“I don’t know. I’m honored that a lot of people are asking me to run. I’ve not made that decision,” Broun told Tim Bryant on WGAU (1340 AM) in Athens. “It’s not time to think about it.”

But when Bryant pressed him, Broun said this: “When people encourage you to run, how can you not think about it?”

Part of keeping the powder dry: Broun said he’ll oppose the new House resolution that postpones a confrontation over the debt ceiling until May.

The Athens congressman, who proudly boycotted the 2008 presidential inauguration, didn’t go to this one, either. “I had a lot of folks who wanted my tickets, so I didn’t go,” the congressman said.

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So now we see why the organizers of President Barack Obama’s second inauguration were so anxious to be shed of the Rev. Louie Giglio of Atlanta – who was originally assigned the task of giving the …

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