Archive for the ‘Ray McBerry’ Category

Judge tosses libel suit by former GOP candidate for governor

A Henry County Superior Court judge has thrown out a libel suit filed by former Republican candidate for governor Ray McBerry against the mother of a 16-year-old with whom Berry had an affair while he was a high school teacher.

Here’s the order by Judge William Ison.

Before McBerry jumped into politics, the student’s mother, Linda Pittman, successfully lobbied to have his teaching license suspended. During the 2010 campaign, she referred to him as a “child molester” on her Facebook page.

In arguments made earlier this month, John Rains, Pittman’s attorney, argued that, as a political speech, such language was protected by the First Amendment.

Pittman’s attorney also argued that, given McBerry’s low reputation in the community, the former candidate for governor qualified as a “libel-proof plaintiff.”

Berry also filed suit against the southwest Georgia writers of a now-defunct political blog. It’s not clear what impact the judge’s ruling has on them.

- By Jim Galloway, Political …

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A Georgia test of political speech on the Internet

It is dangerous to predict what any jurist will do, but on Thursday, Henry County Superior Court Judge Arch McGarity will be presented with an opportunity to close the books on the 2010 GOP race for governor.

In the process, the judge could also create – or continue — an important precedent for political speech on the Internet.

You will recall that Ray McBerry was one of several Republican candidates for the job of governor. He was the states rights’ candidate on the ballot. You might also recall that it was reported in this space that, while a Henry County high school teacher, McBerry was caught having a relationship with a high school student.

McBerry was 34 and divorcing his second wife. The student was 16 and 17 during the affair.

Before McBerry jumped into politics, the student’s mother, Linda Pittman, successfully lobbied to have his teaching license suspended. During the 2010 campaign, she wrote the following on her Facebook page, accessible to a few hundred …

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Ex-candidate for governor is asked to list sexual partners

In November, four months after he was culled from the Republican race for governor, Ray McBerry filed a libel suit against a Henry County woman for referring to him, on a Facebook page, as a “child molester” during the campaign.

Several years earlier, Linda Pittman of Hampton, Ga., had lodged a complaint against McBerry – then a high school history teacher – for having an improper relationship with her 16-year-old daughter. McBerry, who admitted giving the young girl a cell phone for private chats, quickly quit his teaching position and was later sanctioned by the state.

The operators of a southwest Georgia political blog were also named in the McBerry suit – which may be one of the first in the state to challenge Internet-based political speech.

Pittman has now filed her answer to the lawsuit, drawn up by Atlanta attorney Emmet Bondurant, the former chairman of Common Cause of Georgia.

“All statements of opinion made by Mrs. Pittman of and concerning Ray McBerry and his …

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Your morning jolt: Ray McBerry accuses Henry County mom of libel

In 2003, Ray McBerry quit his high school teaching job in Henry County after a mother accused him of having an improper relationship with her 16-year-old daughter, a student at a neighboring school.

A state licensing board later sanctioned the teacher, who admitted to lying to school officials about meeting the girl.

On Monday, McBerry, a former Republican candidate for governor, sued the mother of the young woman and the operators of a southwest Georgia political blog for accusing him of “child molestation” during his unsuccessful political campaign.

The suit was filed in Henry County Superior Court. It alleges that Linda Pittman, mother of Rachel Gandee, “stated falsely, with actual malice, that [McBerry] had committed the crime of child molestation” on a Facebook page.

Also named in the suit were Jeff Sexton and Thomas Knighton, operators of SWGA Politics, an Albany-based blog.

McBerry’s relationship with the young girl was an issue in the campaign — former secretary of …

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Austin Scott close to 8th District GOP win, and gets a bruising welcome from Jim Marshall

Updated at 11:50 p.m.:Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for all of your attention this evening. I’ll check in with you tomorrow morning.

Updated at 11:15 p.m.: On the Republican side of the 8th District congressional contest, state Rep. Austin Scott (R-Tifton), who until this spring was a candidate for governor, has apparently won the nomination without a runoff.

With 89 percent of the vote in, Scott is at 53 percent. Which prompted this bruising welcome from Doug Moore, spokesman for U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall (D-Macon):

“Austin Scott’s been in the legislature his whole adult life, He’s a career politician looking for his next job. Ran for governor, found no takers. Ran for Lieutenant Governor, got run off, and was told to run for Congress.

“He’s voted against taxing illegal immigrants, but he’s voted for, even proposed, multiple new tax increases on every Georgian.

“Politics makes strange bedfellows, but with Jim’s record of protecting and helping the people of this district, …

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Your morning jolt: Republicans put distance between themselves and the state Capitol

Georgia Republican candidates for governor take part in a final debate. Curtis Compton/AJC

Georgia Republican candidates for governor take part in a final debate. Curtis Compton/AJC

The campaigning side of the state GOP couldn’t afford to be seen with the governing side of the Republican party on Sunday night.

Much was made of Karen Handel’s absence from the Atlanta Press Club debates for governor, held at Georgia Public Broadcasting headquarters.

But with one runoff berth – possibly two – at stake, the most interesting aspect of the GOP confrontation was the effort made by each candidate to separate himself from the Republican-controlled Legislature and Gov. Sonny Perdue.

Asked – by yours truly – whether $96 million in fee increases passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Perdue amounted to a tax increase, each candidate answered in the affirmative:

Nathan Deal: “It comes closer to a tax increase than anything else I can call it.”

Eric Johnson: “Anything that increases revenue to state government is just like a tax increase, no matter what you call …

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11Alive/V103 poll: Karen Handel moves up on GOP side, Roy Barnes above 50 percent

The consortium of 11Alive and V103-FM are out today with a Survey USA poll that shows former secretary of state Karen Handel within reach of a runoff berth with state Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine in the Republican primary race for governor.

But both former congressman Nathan Deal and state senator Eric Johnson of Savannah are close enough for concentrated TV campaign to change the line-up.

In the Democratic contest, former Gov. Roy Barnes has a 56 percent lead that – if it holds through the next 12 days – would allow him to claim the nomination without a runoff.

The GOP standings:

Oxendine, 32 percent;

Handel, 23 percent;

Deal, 12 percent;

Johnson, 12 percent;

Ray McBerry, 5 percent;

Jeff Chapman, 4 percent;

Otis Putnam, 1 percent;

And undecided, 17 percent.

The automated poll, on the Republican side, has a margin of error of 3.2 percent. Survey USA has a workable crosstab feature here that shows Handel – who went up on TV only today – with a potential (but not yet …

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The income tax and the GOP race for governor

Straw polls are rarely useful, except as a measure of a candidate’s infrastructure – his or her ability to move a certain number of volunteers to a certain location at a certain time.

But the larger the event, and the closer to election day, the more meaning that kind of balloting has. On Saturday, the Cobb County Republican party had one of the largest straw polls in the state.

Roughly 1,200 people paid a $10 fee for entry into an auditorium at Jim Miller Park in Marietta, attended by virtually every statewide candidate on the July 20 GOP ballot.

Five candidates for governor were there: Jeff Chapman, Nathan Deal, Karen Handel, Eric Johnson and John Oxendine.

When asked who they want to see as the Republican nominee for governor, here’s what attendees said:

– Handel, 199;

–Johnson, 199;

– Deal, 140;

– Oxendine, 130;

– Chapman, 31;

– McBerry, 3;

–Putnam, 0.

Though they could barely be heard among the din of the crowd, a theme developed in short addresses from the gubernatorial …

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Your morning jolt: An advancing hairline in the race for governor

Given the importance of TV, looking good is essential in politics. The problem is that it’s risky to be seen trying.

Discussing a candidate’s appearance is equally dicey. On one hand, political discourse is shallow enough. Yet when the bedrock foundation of a candidate’s relationship with voters is the 30-second TV spot, what candidates choose to display becomes a topic worth noting.

Women are judged more harshly. Look at Nikki Haley, the new Republican nominee for governor in South Carolina.

Sarah Palin recently had to beat off breast enhancement rumors. We all chuckle at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Bambi-in-the-headlights stare, wondering what work she’s had done.

And remember that, four years ago, former state School Superintendent Linda Schrenko, once a GOP favorite to become governor of Georgia, was convicted of using federal tax dollars to finance, among other things, a face lift.

Men have it slightly easier. Glasses are often ditched for contacts. Once they reached …

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Your morning jolt: Happy Fathers Day to me, says Thurbert Baker in first TV ad

Jekyll Island — Thurbert Baker’s Democratic campaign for governor goes up on TV for the first time on Sunday with a message geared specifically for Father’s Day:

The ad is introductory in nature: “Growing up, my dad didn’t even knew his father. But it was never going to be that way with him,” said Chelsea Baker, one of the attorney general’s two daughters – who is now a DeKalb County teacher like her mother. So education is a subtext.

Spies tell us that the Republican campaign of John Oxendine has purchased TV time starting early next week, and that former GOP congressman Nathan Deal looks like he’s focusing on a 10-day strategy for his ads next month.

Thursday’s debates of Republican and Democratic candidates for governor on Jekyll Island were jointly sponsored by the Georgia Press Association and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce – two entities that have often warred over public access to information.

So it was significant that every single candidate, regardless of party, …

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