Archive for the ‘Mark Burkhalter’ Category

Mitt Romney returns to Atlanta next week

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will be in Atlanta next week for a high-end fund-raiser in the backyard of two of his rivals, Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain.

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney at last week's Faith and Freedom Coalition gathering. AP

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney at last week’s Faith and Freedom Coalition gathering. AP

See the June 16 invite list – always a good measure of who’s lining up behind whom – by clicking here. It’s loaded with business types. Tickets are $5,000 per couple (photo included) or $1,000 per head for general admission.

The event is at a private residence. No word yet on any public appearances by Romney.

Hosts include Attorney General Sam Olens; former state House leader Mark Burkhalter; and John Brock, CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises and current chair of Metro Atlanta Chamber.

Long-time Romney supporters Eric Tanenblatt, Mark DeMoss and Ric Mayfield are part of the shindig – but the freshest name may be that of Heath Garrett, former chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson.

- By Jim Galloway, …

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Your morning jolt: ‘I’ll close the Governor’s Mansion’ to pay for schools, says Roy Barnes

Three Democratic candidates for governor were down in Savannah last night to speak to a small crowd of school teachers, administrators and parents.

Larry Peterson of the Savannah Morning News said all three received a warm reception, and all three supported a proposal to increase the minimum dropout age from 16 to 17.

Former National Guard commander David Poythress declared that teachers shouldn’t bear the responsibility for failing schools: “You don’t lead people by …. threatening their jobs if they don’t meet some artificial criteria. You lead people by inspiring them.”

House Minority Leader DuBose Porter of Dublin noted his role in creating the lottery-funded HOPE scholarship program, and a formula for financing education that has been abandoned by Gov. Sonny Perdue, a Republican.

The Morning News continues:

But the loudest applause went to Barnes, who stressed the importance of early childhood education and vowed to stop furloughs of teachers.

Of the three candidates, he …

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Your (late) jolt: South Georgia state park raided by feds

The Tifton Gazette/Moultrie Observer reports today that federal agents have descended on a state park near Moultrie:

There may be merit to allegations of illegal dumping of hazardous wastes at Reed Bingham State Park. Federal authorities dropped a backhoe into one suspected area Thursday afternoon, and there was an immediate sound of scraping metal. Two drums had been unearthed by 4 p.m. and the digging had only just begun.

Federal environmental agents descended upon the park Thursday morning to run tests for possible illegal hazardous chemical dumping. They came in just a couple of weeks behind state environmental agents whose findings are yet to be released. The state agents did not dig up anything.

The newspaper is hinting at an inside job:

The allegations of illegal dumping came in close proximity to the DNR firing park manager Chet Powell. The alleged dumping reportedly occurred on another manager’s watch and sources told The Observer that an employee told Powell about …

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Your morning jolt: This anti-tax protest brought to you by the good people at Big Tobacco

The invitation to the Tuesday noon anti-tax rally was fairly standard.

It noted that Grover Norquist, of government-small-enough-to-drown-in-a-bathtub fame, is the featured speaker.

Said the e-mailed invitation:

“Now is the time to overhaul the state’s budget process and find long-term solutions. Now is the time to cut spending and encourage economic growth. Now is the time to stop digging!”

Then there was the fine print at the tail end:

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A dollar-a-pack cigarette tax is one of the alternatives being considered by the Legislature.

The formal sponsors of Tuesday’s rally are Americans For Prosperity, Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, and the Conservative Leadership Coalition.

Virginia Galloway, head of the Georgia chapter of AFP, said she had no knowledge of the e-mailed invitation above — until she saw the post this morning. However, ATR and Norquist have in the past received financing from tobacco companies.

Mark DeMoss, who operates a Christian-oriented public relations …

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Perdue made two trips to troubled insurance company’s hunting preserve

Gov. Sonny Perdue twice was flown to a hunting preserve operated by Southeastern U.S. Insurance, once in 2009 while the company – which provided workers compensation coverage for the state Department of Labor and many local governments – was tanking.

Dale Russell of Fox5 counted up four other state officials – all members of the General Assembly – who were beneficiaries of largesse from SEUS chief Clark Fain, now under criminal investigation by the state Department of Insurance. See the clip here:

Russell quotes the governor’s office as saying that Perdue’s own executive order banning gifts from those who do business with the recipient does not apply.

SEUS is the company at the center of the feud between U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland and state Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, a Republican candidate for governor.

Oxendine called Westmoreland in December to make him aware of the investigation — then only a civil matter. Westmoreland once sat on an advisory board for …

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Larry O’Neal’s campaign platform for House speaker

Several Capitol types have pointed us to an e-mail that state Rep. Larry O’Neal of Houston County sent to members of the House Republican caucus on Friday.

With the unspoken backing of Gov. Sonny Perdue, O’Neal must be considered the front-runner in the quick contest to replace House Speaker Glenn Richardson. A vote to pick a caucus candidate comes Thursday.

O’Neal missed the Friday gathering of the caucus due to a bout with pneumonia, but you may consider the letter below to be the platform of his candidacy.

Among its important points:

  • An end to the “hawk system” that allowed House leaders to pack committee meetings;
  • A promise not to sponsor any legislation other than the budget. He’ll ask members of his leadership circle to do the same.
  • An end to the speaker’s political action committee, which allowed the top leader of the House to gather up hundreds of thousands of campaign dollars, in competition with the House caucus’ own fund. The speaker’s PAC was yet another method of …

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Tom DeLay, the winds of change, and our state Legislature

When Republicans won the House in 2004, one of the first acts of the presumptive new speaker, Glenn Richardson, was to import a set of tutors to give GOP lawmakers some closed-door lessons in the art of government.

Their guides were associates of Tom “The Hammer” DeLay, then the no-holds-barred majority leader of the U.S. House.

We know this because a fresh-faced staffer hit the wrong switch and allowed one of the sessions to be broadcast across the state Capitol.

DeLay was gone by the next election cycle, doomed by his association with Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is now doing time for his bribery of public officials.

Richardson is now gone, too, done in by an ex-wife who, on the six o’clock news, declared herself tired of keeping his secrets. As a matter of fact, she declared, the speaker did have a full-blown affair with an Atlanta Gas Light lobbyist while legislation was in play.

The House crown was to have devolved upon the head of Speaker Pro Tem Mark …

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Proposed rules for the next speaker: ‘Don’t sleep around, don’t embarrass us’

To get his vote, state Rep. Jim Cole (R-Forsyth) says the next House speaker will have to sign a code of behavior that he’s drafted. Cole, who is not running for a leadership plan, refers to his proposed code as a “seven-point action plan.”

His first requirement: Don’t sleep around on your spouse.

His second requirement: Don’t embarrass the people you lead.

Cole’s code also calls for an end to “physical” gifts from lobbyists and would require the suspension of House members from leadership duties upon arrest. Presumably that would include such things as DUI violations.

In addition, Cole wants an end to the “hawk” system that currently allows the House Republican leadership to pack committees in order pass or block legislation. Other members of the GOP rank-and-file have also demanded an end to the system.

Here is Cole’s proposal, with a few minor editing touches:

1. Upholding a higher standard: A leadership code of ethics

We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of …

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Your morning jolt: Larry O’Neal says House speaker’s affair was ‘common knowledge’

This morning, Travis Fain of the Macon Telegraph has a piece on state Rep. Larry O’Neal’s entry into the race to replace House Speaker Glenn Richardson that contains at least two ah-ha! bits of intelligence worth your attention.

Here’s the gist:

“What we need the most right now is somebody to calm things down,” said O’Neal, chairman of the House’s tax-code-writing Ways and Means Committee. “We can’t have any distractions. We’re facing (an economic) situation I’ve not known in my lifetime, and I’m a pretty old guy.”

O’Neal, 60, promised a different style than Richardson’s boisterous and often confrontational ways.

He acknowledged that Richardson’s affair was common knowledge at the Capitol following the speaker’s divorce in early 2008. But he said it was the stunning interview Richardson’s ex-wife gave an Atlanta television station late last month that turned the problem into “too much of a distraction.”

Asked Wednesday if he was in the room …

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An announcement for House speaker and related matters

Over at the Macon Telegraph, on the political blog Lucid Idiocy, Travis Fain has the announcement by state Rep. Larry O’Neal, the Republican from Warner Robins that he’s a candidate to replace Glenn Richardson as House speaker.

Writes Fain:

O’Neal, who has been fighting the flu most of this week, said he emailed his colleagues in the House today to tell them “that I intend to seek the speakership.”

“What we need the most right now is somebody to calm things down. …” said O’Neal, chairman of the House’s tax-code-writing committee, Ways and Means. “We can’t have any distractions. We’re facing (an economic) situation I’ve not known in my life time, and I’m a pretty old guy.”

O’Neal’s close friendship with Gov. Sonny Perdue is well known. We’re also hearing that House Majority Leader Jerry Keen of St. Simons Island, who looks to be the top surviving Republican in the leadership, is backing O’Neal.

Reverberations from Richardson’s resignation, largely rising out of an affair he had

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