myAJC Voices


A high noon showdown? GOP contender challenges rival to shoot-out 

Republican David Shafer won the NRA’s endorsement last week. One of his top rivals for Georgia’s No. 2 job wants him to prove he has the sharpshooting skills to back it up.  Former state Sen. Rick Jeffares challenged Shafer to a high-stakes shootout on Friday: The winner of the clay shoot stays in the race, while the loser must bow out. (A third GOP contender for lieutenant governor...


Reparations on group’s '2022' agenda; Abrams steers clear of issue

Reparations on group’s '2022' agenda; Abrams steers clear of issue

The flyer touting an event with Stacey Abrams in Atlanta earlier this week read like a left-leaning activist’s fantasy: It’s 2022 and “we’re celebrating Medicare for All and Free College, and next on the agenda is Reparations.”  It invited progressives to hop in a time machine and imagine they are hearing from Abrams, a former Georgia House Democratic leader running...
Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter won’t attend Barbara Bush’s funeral

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter won’t attend Barbara Bush’s funeral

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter will not be at Barbara Bush’s funeral Saturday. “President and Mrs. Carter regret that they are unable to attend,” the Carter Center in Atlanta said in a statement Thursday morning. “President Carter will be on a private trip overseas, and although she is recovering, Mrs. Carter is not yet able to travel following her recent intestinal surgery...
Voter registration deadline is Tuesday for Georgia primary election

Voter registration deadline is Tuesday for Georgia primary election

The deadline to register to vote in Georgia’s primary election is Tuesday. The May 22 primary election will feature Republican and Democratic races for Congress, governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, the General Assembly and more. Georgia citizens can sign up to vote online at www.mvp.sos.ga.gov or through the GA SOS app for Apple and Android cellphones...
The Jolt: Nathan Deal, Georgia Power, and a clout-heavy game of musical chairs

The Jolt: Nathan Deal, Georgia Power, and a clout-heavy game of musical chairs

If you’ve been stricken with doubts about Georgia Power’s continued influence in the state, let a press release sent out Wednesday by Gov. Nathan Deal put your mind at ease.  The governor announced he had tapped the utility’s chief executive, Paul Bowers, for a coveted spot on the governing board of the Georgia Ports Authority. That required Bowers to give up another influential...
Human Rights Campaign: Pence ‘one of the greatest threats to equality’

Human Rights Campaign: Pence ‘one of the greatest threats to equality’

WASHINGTON — The Human Rights Campaign on Thursday called Vice President Mike Pence “one of the greatest threats to equality in the history of our movement,” highlighting his record on issues important to the LGBTQ community. The gay rights organization argues Pence has taken advantage of the chaos of the Trump administration to amass “enormous power” ...
Tippins targets ‘strip club’ Cagle and ‘Benedict’ Hill 

Tippins targets ‘strip club’ Cagle and ‘Benedict’ Hill 

The bumbling Casey Cagle lookalike is back. And this time he’s joined by a furtive Hunter Hill impersonator. Republican Clay Tippins debuted a new TV ad Thursday for the homestretch of the GOP primary race that’s backed by $500,000 in spending. And the Navy SEAL takes square aim at the two candidates considered to be at the top of the heap in the GOP primary. It opens with the faux-Cagle...
Atlanta City Hall bribery probe: Feds eye mayor’s deputy chief of staff

Atlanta City Hall bribery probe: Feds eye mayor’s deputy chief of staff

Nearly six years ago a man who had defrauded elderly investors out of more than $1 million convinced the City of Atlanta that he could turn restaurant grease into fuel and prevent it from being illegally dumped. Now federal investigators want to know how his scheme slid past the City Council and the nature of his relationship to the mayor’s deputy chief of staff: Katrina Taylor Parks. Two subpoenas...
Cagle promotes ‘great session’ in official letters to superintendents

Cagle promotes ‘great session’ in official letters to superintendents

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle is leveraging his public office in the final weeks before the GOP primary by sending letters to local superintendents touting his record on education.  The Republican front-runner for governor sent the dispatches on his office letterhead to each school superintendent earlier this month with estimates of how much their district will receive from an extra infusion cash. Gov...
Remembering Barbara Bush’s controversial commencement speech

Remembering Barbara Bush’s controversial commencement speech

In 1990, the AJC sent me to Wellesley College in Massachusetts to cover then First Lady Barbara Bush’s commencement appearance, which had sparked a lot of controversy.  Seniors at the prestigious women’s college had voted for “Color Purple” author and Georgia native Alice Walker as their first choice of commencement speaker. Alice Walker declined, and Barbara Bush, the...
Primary election will lead to turnover in Georgia Legislature

Primary election will lead to turnover in Georgia Legislature

Next month’s primary elections feature races for 20 open seats in the Georgia General Assembly along with challenges to several vulnerable incumbents, potentially shaking up the state’s balance of power. All but one of the 20 seats without an incumbent are currently held by Republicans, creating an opportunity for Democrats to make inroads in the Georgia House and Senate. Five of those...
Deal appoints two Georgia Power execs to state boards

Deal appoints two Georgia Power execs to state boards

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal announced Wednesday that he’s appointed two Georgia Power executives to two of the state’s most influential boards. Paul Bowers, who had been on the Georgia Board of Regents, was appointed to the Georgia Ports Authority. Deal appointed Chris Cummiskey to fill the vacancy on the Board of Regents. Bowers is the chairman, president and CEO of Georgia Power, the...
Melania Trump, Clintons, Obamas attending Barbara Bush’s funeral

Melania Trump, Clintons, Obamas attending Barbara Bush’s funeral

An awe-inspiring array of first ladies and presidents will pay their respects to one of their own on Saturday. First Lady Melania Trump will attend Barbara Bush’s funeral in Houston, her spokesperson confirmed Wednesday. Joining Mrs. Trump at the private service for Bush will be Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack and Michelle Obama, their offices confirmed.  On Thursday morning, Jimmy...
Barbara Bush: Where to donate, post tributes in her honor

Barbara Bush: Where to donate, post tributes in her honor

Barbara Bush was much more than a presidential spouse and mother. She was a force for good in her own right, especially when it came to championing literacy. Bush, who died in Houston on Tuesday at the age of 92, first adopted literacy as a cause in the 1980s when her husband, George H.W. Bush, was vice president. She eventually established the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. Ultimately...
Operator of S. Georgia immigration detention center hit with lawsuit

Operator of S. Georgia immigration detention center hit with lawsuit

Three men who have been held in a South Georgia immigration detention center filed a federal class-action lawsuit this week against the private company that operates the facility, alleging the company is forcing detainees to cook and clean there for as little as $1 a day as part of a profit-making scheme. Filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court in Columbus, the lawsuit accuses Nashville-based...
Kempner: Ignore call from boss? Georgia shifts on distracted driving

Kempner: Ignore call from boss? Georgia shifts on distracted driving

Georgia’s new distracted driving rules are confusing and watered down, but they give Georgians a legal excuse not to work in their cars and to ignore calls from bosses and customers. Some workaholics won’t take the hint. Not when they spend all that time brewing in Atlanta’s traffic. Not when plenty of employees and business owners have learned that the virtual office is everywhere...
Georgia 2018: Abrams wins LGBT advocacy group’s endorsement 

Georgia 2018: Abrams wins LGBT advocacy group’s endorsement 

The state’s most prominent gay rights advocacy group endorsed Stacey Abrams, the latest left-leaning organization to support the Democrat’s campaign for governor ahead of May 22 primary.  Georgia Equality said it backed the former Georgia House minority leader over her rival, ex-state Rep. Stacey Evans, after an extensive process that included surveys and interviews. Both have championed...
When the opioid crisis touched Johnny Isakson’s family

When the opioid crisis touched Johnny Isakson’s family

In December 2016, the obituary for 25-year-old Charles Daniel “Charley” Joyner, grandson of U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, listed the young man’s love for wrestling and his 3.95 GPA in math at Georgia Southern, where he had been about to receive his diploma. What wasn’t mentioned was the cause of death. In Washington, The Hill newspaper is attempting to show the ubiquitous nature...
Hannity’s rising role in Trump’s world: ‘He basically has a desk in the place’

Hannity’s rising role in Trump’s world: ‘He basically has a desk in the place’

The phone calls between President Donald Trump and Sean Hannity come early in the morning or late at night, after the Fox News host goes off the air. They discuss ideas for Hannity's show, Trump's frustration with the ongoing special counsel probe and even, at times, what the president should tweet, according to people familiar with the conversations. When he's off the phone, Trump is known to cite...
Torpy at Large: Hey, Gov. Deal, don’t allow cities to cannibalize

Torpy at Large: Hey, Gov. Deal, don’t allow cities to cannibalize

Gov. Nathan Deal has not been afraid to use his veto when the Legislature, in all its wisdom, passes a bill that needs to be strangled and quickly buried. Two years ago, he shot down a “religious liberty” bill to avoid a business-sapping controversy. He also stopped the campus carry gun law (although a year later he allowed a watered-down version to become law). Both were big-time...
Comey urges his successor in FBI to ‘stay the course’ 

Comey urges his successor in FBI to ‘stay the course’ 

FBI Director Chris Wray is facing the threat of impeachment over his handling of documents related to an investigation into President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia. His predecessor, Jim Comey, had some advice for the Atlanta attorney.  “Just be you, just stay the course, do the right thing,” Comey told Channel 2 political reporter Richard Elliot. “In the long...
Barbara Bush’s heartfelt link to Georgia went back 73 years

Barbara Bush’s heartfelt link to Georgia went back 73 years

As the wife of one president and the mother of another, Barbara Bush, who died Tuesday at the age of 92, spent time in Georgia both on and off the campaign trail. But it was an affair of the heart that first brought her here 73 years ago, when she married the dashing young Navy pilot  George H.W. Bush when he was home on leave from World War II. The wedding took place on Jan. 6, 1945 in the 19-year-old...
Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter mourn passing of Barbara Bush

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter mourn passing of Barbara Bush

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter on Tuesday night mourned the death of former first lady Barbara Bush, calling attention to her generous spirit, gregarious nature and devotion to family. “Rosalynn and I are saddened by the death of Barbara Bush,” the couple said In a statement released by the Carter Center not long after the news of the 92-year-old Bush’s passing in Houston “She touched...
Atlanta corruption probe seeks former Mayor Kasim Reed’s records

Atlanta corruption probe seeks former Mayor Kasim Reed’s records

The sprawling federal investigation into Atlanta City Hall corruption has now reached the office of former Mayor Kasim Reed. An April 6 subpoena from a federal grand jury demands information about charges made to Reed’s city-issued credit card, along with information about Reed’s brother, Tracy; political consultant Rev. Mitzi Bickers, who was indicted on bribery charges last week; and...
As an apostle of Donald Trump’s impeachment makes his case, remember Newt Gingrich

As an apostle of Donald Trump’s impeachment makes his case, remember Newt Gingrich

To impeach or not to impeach. That’s not the question. The dilemma for Democrats is whether to broach the topic at all. California billionaire Tom Steyer, he of the non-stop “Need to Impeach” ads on cable TV news, clearly thinks they should. My advice? I say, “Remember Newt Gingrich.” But that can wait. Steyer, who was in Atlanta on Monday, has spent enough money on his...
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia and Piedmont have a ‘handshake deal’

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia and Piedmont have a ‘handshake deal’

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia and Piedmont Healthcare have struck a deal to renew their contract, Gov. Nathan Deal said Tuesday. The governor in a tweet called it a “handshake deal.” “The handshake deal means that we have full agreement on the major issues of the contract, and what remains is for us to put that all on paper and sign it,” said Matt Gove, a spokesman for...
Neo-Nazis – and about 400 cops – will be in Newnan on Saturday

Neo-Nazis – and about 400 cops – will be in Newnan on Saturday

The city of Newnan, mindful of the violence last year in Charlottesville, is going into full defense mode for a neo-Nazi rally planned there on Saturday. The National Socialist Movement, a far-right hate group, has a city permit for a rally at 3 p.m. Saturday in the Greenville Street Park, a few blocks from Newnan’s court square. The group’s application anticipated between 50 and 100 people...

PolitiFact: Women’s pay-lag figure can be misapplied

On April 10, “Equal Pay Day,” Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., tweeted out her support for an end to differential pay for men and women. But there’s a problem with her tweet: The statistics showing that women earn 80 percent of what men earn are overall comparisons and do not specifically compare men and women in the same jobs. After we reached out to Smith’s office, she sent a new...
Early voting for the May 22 Georgia primary

Early voting for the May 22 Georgia primary

On May 22, voters across metro Atlanta and Georgia will cast  ballots in the Republican and Democratic primaries, nonpartisan and special elections.  Voters who want to beat the crowd on Election Day can vote early beginning on April 30. The most prominent election on May 22 will be for governor. The Democrats and Republicans have contested primaries to choose nominees to replace Gov...
In Georgia, calls for Trump impeachment met with caution, zeal, scorn

In Georgia, calls for Trump impeachment met with caution, zeal, scorn

To some Democrats, billionaire Tom Steyer is a heaven-sent financier with a powerful message built around impeaching Donald Trump. To others, he’s a rogue who could threaten the party’s midterm election hopes at a time when Democrats can ill afford a distraction. The California philanthropist this week brought his national movement — dubbed Need to Impeach — to Atlanta, where...
Georgia public colleges will not raise tuition for 2018-2019

Georgia public colleges will not raise tuition for 2018-2019

As a parent of students at the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech, I am happy to hear this today. Statement from the Board of Regents: University System of Georgia students will pay the same tuition for the 2018-2019 academic year as the current 2017-2018 academic year, after the Board of Regents set annual tuition rates today for all 26 colleges and universities at a zero percent increase. ...
At small business forum, Georgia gov candidates sharpen economic message 

At small business forum, Georgia gov candidates sharpen economic message 

The leading candidates for Georgia governor honed their economic policies Tuesday at a forum hosted by the Georgia chapter of National Federation of Independent Business.  The event, moderated by the AJC’s Jim Galloway, featured Democrats Stacey Abrams and Stacey Evans along with Republicans Casey Cagle, Hunter Hill and Clay Tippins. Brian Kemp appeared on video and Michael Williams, a...
Dem candidates steer clear of Trump impeachment debate

Dem candidates steer clear of Trump impeachment debate

Many of the Democrats challenging GOP incumbents in the north Atlanta suburbs say it’s too soon for their party to push for impeaching President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill.  Few if any of the Democrats seeking to unseat U.S. Reps. Karen Handel and Rob Woodall in Georgia’s 6th and 7th congressional districts are publicly embracing the campaign from some prominent liberals, including...
How to hack elections on Georgia’s electronic voting machines

How to hack elections on Georgia’s electronic voting machines

A rapt audience watched as professor Alex Halderman, an expert on electronic voting machines, changed votes in a hypothetical election before their eyes. At a Georgia Tech demonstration this week, Halderman showed how to rig an election by infecting voting machines with malware that guaranteed a chosen candidate would always win. Four people from the audience voted on the same kind of touch-screen...
Comey: Trump's call to put him in jail isn't 'normal'

Comey: Trump's call to put him in jail isn't 'normal'

Former FBI Director James Comey says it's "not OK" or "not normal" for the president to call for the jailing of private citizens. President Donald Trump suggested earlier this week that Comey should be jailed and accused him of leaking classified information and lying to Congress. Comey said during a live interview Tuesday on ABC's "Good Morning America" that Trump is...
The Jolt: Nathan Deal’s pick for PSC gets GOP foe with tea party, solar backing

The Jolt: Nathan Deal’s pick for PSC gets GOP foe with tea party, solar backing

So it turns out that, this spring, tea partyer Debbie Dooley won’t be camping out in north Georgia in an attempt to unseat House Speaker David Ralston – as she has in the past. Instead, Dooley is focused on giving Nathan Deal a bit of heartburn, championing a Republican solar advocate against Tricia Pridemore, the governor’s handpicked choice for state Public Service Commissioner...
In Atlanta, a sober push to impeach Trump aims to take root

In Atlanta, a sober push to impeach Trump aims to take root

Almost as soon as he took the stage Monday in Atlanta, California billionaire Tom Steyer spoke gravely about the national movement to impeach President Donald Trump.  It’s a serious issue to openly broach, he said, but our “democracy is under attack.” “We don’t view this as a partisan issue,” added Steyer. “We view this as a question of patriotism.&rdquo...
Planned Parenthood endorses Abrams, making waves in Democratic race  

Planned Parenthood endorses Abrams, making waves in Democratic race  

Planned Parenthood endorsed Stacey Abrams in the race for governor Monday, giving the former House Democratic leader a powerful new ally while dashing her rival’s hopes that the abortion rights group would stay neutral in the contest.  Staci Fox, the president of Planned Parenthood Southeast, said Abrams was an “unwavering champion for reproductive health and rights” and said...
Ga. lawmakers stockpile cash in anticipation of tough midterm climate

Ga. lawmakers stockpile cash in anticipation of tough midterm climate

Some of Georgia’s GOP members of Congress stepped up their campaign fundraising during the first three months of the year, stockpiling cash as party leaders warn about a tough political climate in the upcoming midterm elections.  U.S. Rep. Karen Handel, R-Roswell, who won the most expensive House race of all time last year, raised $375,000 between Jan. 1 and the end of March, according...
Podcast: Where do Georgia’s 2018 candidates stand on immigration?

Podcast: Where do Georgia’s 2018 candidates stand on immigration?

Immigration is an issue to watch in Georgia’s major 2018 races. The AJC’s Jeremy Redmon and Greg Bluestein reported last month that Georgia’s GOP candidates for governor “put a bull’s-eye on illegal immigration.” Redmon also reported that a Georgia congressional candidate took aim at Trump over DACA in a new ad and many first-and second-generation...
Clarke County sheriff limiting cooperation with ICE amid crackdown

Clarke County sheriff limiting cooperation with ICE amid crackdown

The Clarke County Sheriff’s Office in Athens has announced it is joining a growing number of Georgia law enforcement agencies that are limiting cooperation with federal immigration authorities in their jails. The move by Clarke Sheriff Ira Edwards Jr. comes amid threats from the Trump administration to cut off federal funding to so-called “sanctuary cities” across the nation...
Georgia 2018: Abrams debuts TV, online ads in race for governor

Georgia 2018: Abrams debuts TV, online ads in race for governor

Black women may be the key demographic in next month’s Democratic primary. But Stacey Abrams, running to be the nation’s first black female governor, went after a different bloc of voters with her first ads. The 30-second digital spot unveiled over the weekend features a trio of men praising the former state legislative leader’s economic policy. “She’s fighting against...
Gingrich parts ways with mega-law firm

Gingrich parts ways with mega-law firm

Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and the Dentons mega-giant law firm are parting ways.  The firm said Monday in a statement that it ended a three-year relationship with the ex-Georgia politician.  The Daily Report has more:  Gingrich represented a northwest Atlanta district in the U.S. House for about 20 years and led the chamber for four years.  He launched a campaign for...
The Jolt: Clarke County sheriff says he won’t detain ICE targets without warrant

The Jolt: Clarke County sheriff says he won’t detain ICE targets without warrant

As the weekend broke, Blake Aued of Flagpole magazine in Athens dropped this bit of news: The decision reverses a policy that Sheriff Ira Edwards had instituted in July, which had drawn criticism when it was made public in July. More: You can expect to hear a good deal more about this. Athens is home to Secretary of State Brian Kemp, a Republican candidate for governor who has made illegal...
8 key quotes from James Comey about Donald Trump and what’s next

8 key quotes from James Comey about Donald Trump and what’s next

Key quotes from former FBI Director James Comey in his interview Friday with USA Today. "I don't think he's mentally unfit. I've read stuff about dementia and what-not. I don't buy that. ... That's not what I mean. I actually believe he's morally unfit to be president."          "The comparison to the leadership of a Cosa Nostra...
Georgia governor kicks off week of high-stakes meetings 

Georgia governor kicks off week of high-stakes meetings 

Gov. Nathan Deal has a string of high-stakes meetings this week that starts Monday with a sit-down between deadlocked healthcare officials and continues in New York on Tuesday in meetings with analysts over Georgia’s AAA bond rating.  The governor will meet early Monday with leaders from Piedmont Healthcare and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia to try to break an impasse after a contract...
Charter commission defends standards: ‘Failing school of choice is not a real choice.’

Charter commission defends standards: ‘Failing school of choice is not a real choice.’

Gregg Stevens is the deputy director and general counsel of the State Charter Schools Commission of Georgia. In this piece, he explains the process by which the commission approves and denies charter schools in Georgia. This is a timely piece as the decision by the state’s first online charter high school to shut down in June has prompted discussion of whether the commission’s performance...
Stacey Abrams outlines higher education plan for Georgia

Stacey Abrams outlines higher education plan for Georgia

Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams on Saturday laid out her plans to make college more affordable for students, increase accessibility and make campuses safer. Her proposals include: Needs-based aid for low-income students that would be called HOPE 2.0, restoring tuition-free certificates and diplomas for students with at least a 2.0 grade-point average, a “Cradle...
Opinion: Libraries are largest classrooms in a school. Staff them.

Opinion: Libraries are largest classrooms in a school. Staff them.

Judy Serritella was the Georgia State Library Media Specialist of the Year 2001–2002 and the National Library Media Specialist of the Year for 2002.  In this guest column, she says Atlanta Public Schools would be making a mistake cutting its school librarians.  Serritella taught elementary school, was an elementary library media specialist, a high school library media specialist, and...
Hospital thought it had answer for rural struggles. Now it’s in peril.

Hospital thought it had answer for rural struggles. Now it’s in peril.

On April 12 last year, an investigator for the insurance giant Blue Cross Blue Shield sent a bombshell letter to the owner of a small North Georgia hospital, Chestatee Regional. The investigator laid out evidence of systemic overcharging for urine drug tests, tests that he suggested the Dahlonega facility never should have done in the first place — and maybe never did, at all. The letter touched...
Georgia’s top candidates: Make harassment complaints publicly available

Georgia’s top candidates: Make harassment complaints publicly available

Georgia law doesn’t require the public release of sexual harassment complaints filed against lawmakers, or the taxpayer-funded settlements they may trigger. The leading candidates for Georgia governor want that changed. Both the Democratic candidates for governor and each of the five top Republicans told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution they support expanding Georgia’s sunshine laws to...
Public review of new Georgia voting system launched

Public review of new Georgia voting system launched

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp is moving forward with efforts to replace the state’s electronic voting machines after legislation to do so failed. Kemp announced Friday he’s forming a bipartisan commission of lawmakers, political party leaders, election officials and voters to recommend a new voting system for the state. The group will review options for the state&rsquo...
What’s left of Trump's merchandising empire? Not much

What’s left of Trump's merchandising empire? Not much

Before he ran for office, Donald Trump made millions by selling his name to adorn other people's products. There was Trump deodorant. Trump ties. Trump steaks. Trump underwear. Trump furniture. At one time, there was even a Trump-branded urine test. Now, almost all of them are gone. In 2015, Trump listed 19 companies that were paying him to produce or distribute Trump-branded...
NRA throws its weight behind Cagle in Georgia governor’s race

NRA throws its weight behind Cagle in Georgia governor’s race

The National Rifle Association endorsed Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s campaign for Georgia governor weeks after he promised to “kill” any legislation that would benefit Delta Air Lines after it cut ties with the gun rights group. The endorsement Thursday was no surprise — the group publicly thanked Cagle for his support in February — but it comes after another Republican contender...
Major Dem donor’s Atlanta visit prompts an obvious question: Will he get involved in Ga. races?

Major Dem donor’s Atlanta visit prompts an obvious question: Will he get involved in Ga. races?

Could the left’s biggest campaign donor be eyeing a major investment in Georgia?  That’s a major question as California billionaire Tom Steyer visits Atlanta next week for a town hall event aimed at building public support for impeaching President Trump. The former hedge fund manager spent upwards of $90 million supporting Democratic candidates in 2016, making him the party&rsquo...
Stacey Abrams, Stone Mountain, and the art of the possible

Stacey Abrams, Stone Mountain, and the art of the possible

You might think that the hazards behind Michael Thurmond’s effort to shift the history told at Stone Mountain Park lie on the Republican side, currently the party of choice for most Sons of Confederate Veterans. And indeed, that’s partly true. There’s opposition there. But when you are an African-American leader in search of middle ground, trying to pull on that common thread that...
Georgia ethics panel dismisses harassment complaint against Shafer

Georgia ethics panel dismisses harassment complaint against Shafer

The Georgia Senate Ethics Committee dismissed a sexual harassment complaint a lobbyist filed against state Sen. David Shafer, with the announcement coming a day after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution obtained an investigative report raising questions about the allegations. “Based on the findings of fact reported by the independent counsel, the committee found that there is a lack of credible...
The Jolt: An Embattled EPA chief and a hunt for Delta SkyMiles

The Jolt: An Embattled EPA chief and a hunt for Delta SkyMiles

Last month’s NRA flap made Delta Air Lines plenty of Republican enemies in Georgia and beyond. But the Atlanta-based airline appears to have at least one high-flying GOP fan: embattled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. That’s according to a scathing letter five Capitol Hill Democrats sent to Pruitt on Thursday. The group outlines what Pruitt’s former deputy chief of staff...
Hunter Hill suddenly has a target on his back in Georgia gov race

Hunter Hill suddenly has a target on his back in Georgia gov race

Casey Cagle has the biggest target on his back, but Hunter Hill might be the second-favorite punching bag in the GOP race for governor. The former state senator is facing increasing attacks in a tight contest for the No. 2 spot in a likely July runoff. His opponents are homing in on remarks he made about potentially raising the minimum age to purchase guns from 18 to 21. He says he misspoke and that...
Georgia congressional candidate takes aim at Trump over DACA in new ad

Georgia congressional candidate takes aim at Trump over DACA in new ad

Kevin Abel, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Rep. Karen Handel’s suburban Atlanta seat, released a new campaign ad this week that takes aim at President Donald Trump’s handling of an Obama era program that is shielding young immigrants from deportation. In his 30-second online ad, Abel indirectly refers to how Trump has moved to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals...
Economic boon or ‘sonic boom’? Camden Co. residents split on spaceport

Economic boon or ‘sonic boom’? Camden Co. residents split on spaceport

For nearly 45 years, Carol Ruckdeschel has lived, mostly off the land, in the northern part of Cumberland Island. The self-taught biologist who moved to the island as hired help for Coca-Cola heir Sam Candler and his family now runs a natural history museum adjacent to her home, within spitting distance of the small Baptist church where John F. Kennedy Jr. was married in 1996. But soon, Ruckdeschel...
Cagle’s Delta stance helps him win NRA’s endorsement 

Cagle’s Delta stance helps him win NRA’s endorsement 

The National Rifle Association endorsed Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s campaign for Georgia governor, weeks after he promised to “kill” any legislation that would benefit Delta Air Lines when it cut ties with the gun rights group. The endorsement Thursday was no surprise – the group publicly thanked Cagle for his support in February – but it comes after another contender...
Report raises questions about truth of Shafer sex harassment complaint

Report raises questions about truth of Shafer sex harassment complaint

The lawyer investigating claims that state Sen. David Shafer, a leading Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, persistently sexually harassed a veteran lobbyist cast suspicion on the allegation in a report obtained exclusively Thursday by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Attorney Penn Payne wrote that her conclusion was that “it is more likely that Sen. Shafer did not make sexually...
Georgia congressional race pulled into national gun control debate

Georgia congressional race pulled into national gun control debate

The thousands of student gun control activists and their parents who gathered for a recent prayer vigil in the cavernous, Gothic-style sanctuary of the Washington National Cathedral sat in respectful silence as Lucy McBath took to the podium and declared herself a “surrogate mother” to their movement. The Marietta resident stood at the center of the stage assembled in the church&rsquo...
Liberal megadonor coming to Atlanta with impeach Trump message

Liberal megadonor coming to Atlanta with impeach Trump message

A billionaire activist is coming to Atlanta next week with a provocative and unambiguous message: President Donald Trump is unfit for the nation’s highest office and should be impeached.  Former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer, one of the Democratic Party’s biggest donors, is planning to headline a town hall-style event in downtown Atlanta on Monday, the latest stop in a 30-city nationwide...
Capitol Recap: Perdues pop up in prominent roles during tariff dispute

Capitol Recap: Perdues pop up in prominent roles during tariff dispute

The tariff quarrel between the U.S. and China has generated lots of talk and more than its share of stock market volatility. It’s also meant time in the spotlight for the Perdue family. Threats aimed at Chinese steel and aluminum begat threats aimed at U.S. soybeans, nuts and peaches. That made farmers jittery, and that’s where Sonny Perdue, the U.S. secretary of agriculture and former...
PolitiFact: Trump numbers on China car tariffs accurate

PolitiFact: Trump numbers on China car tariffs accurate

President Donald Trump took to Twitter to bemoan what he considers unfair practices in the United States’ automobile trade with China. His figures match up with international trade data. But economists raised some important details Trump omitted from his tweet, which put his claim in a slightly different light. Trump’s numbers are drawn from American and Chinese government trade data....
Georgia House speaker held up session’s end for bill pushed by his son

Georgia House speaker held up session’s end for bill pushed by his son

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston delayed the end of this year’s legislative session past a midnight deadline so lawmakers could vote on a bill to allow speeding ticket cameras in school zones. The bill was pushed by Ralston’s son, a lobbyist for an Arizona-based company, American Traffic Solutions, that sells the camera systems to local governments. The legislation, House...
Georgia realtors group again backs Cagle – one hefty fine later 

Georgia realtors group again backs Cagle – one hefty fine later 

The Georgia Association of Realtors endorsed Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s bid for governor on Thursday, another chapter in the business group’s long relationship with the Gainesville Republican.  The association, which claims about 37,000 members, ran into trouble a decade ago after backing Cagle’s campaign for lieutenant governor.  It was assessed a record $80,000 fine in May...
The Jolt: Trump administration considers drug tests for food stamp recipients

The Jolt: Trump administration considers drug tests for food stamp recipients

The Associated Press poked around emails generated by Sonny Perdue’s U.S. Department of Agriculture and found this: The House Agriculture committee today is slated to release its draft of the farm bill, which would set guidelines for Perdue’s Agriculture Department for the next five years. Beefed-up work requirements have already roiled negotiations, as we told you last week: ***...
Georgia Republicans take wait-and-see approach to Paul Ryan successor

Georgia Republicans take wait-and-see approach to Paul Ryan successor

Georgia Republicans on Wednesday were non-committal about who they would back to replace House Speaker Paul Ryan in the hours after the Wisconsinite announced he would retire at the end of 2018.  The news didn’t exactly take anybody by surprise – rumors had been circulating for months that the 20-year Capitol Hill veteran was thinking about leaving Congress – but the timing...
AJC, Ch. 2 ask AG to mediate open records complaint against Atlanta

AJC, Ch. 2 ask AG to mediate open records complaint against Atlanta

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News filed a complaint Wednesday with Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr alleging “a culture of political interference” with open records requests at Atlanta City Hall, and requesting mediation to implement reforms for repeated violations of state law. The complaint outlines 10 examples of alleged violations of the Georgia Open Records...
Kempner: Will the Amazon-Trump spat cost you? Beware, online shoppers

Kempner: Will the Amazon-Trump spat cost you? Beware, online shoppers

President Trump pointedly accused Amazon of not paying enough in taxes. That’s an interesting call for our president, who apparently didn’t pay federal income taxes for years and boasted about “brilliantly” working tax laws as a private citizen. If the president is trying to highlight unfairness in our tax systems, he’s right. He’s just off on the target. The...
Podcast: Breaking down Georgia’s 6th and 7th Congressional District races

Podcast: Breaking down Georgia’s 6th and 7th Congressional District races

Two of the biggest contests to watch in 2018 are the races for Georgia’s 6th and 7th Congressional Districts. In the latest Politically Georgia podcast, the AJC’s Washington correspondent Tamar Hallerman joins host Greg Bluestein to outline the candidates, issues and strategies in those campaigns. Hallerman also provides unique insight on Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. Subscribe...
PolitiFact: Coast Guard stops a lot of drugs, not at border

PolitiFact: Coast Guard stops a lot of drugs, not at border

U.S. Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., said that if President Donald Trump wants to make the country safer, he should focus more on funding the Coast Guard than on his promised border wall. After all, Garamendi claimed, the Coast Guard confiscates tons of contraband. He is largely accurate about their enforcement efforts, but his remarks omit nuance and need clarification. To start, his office said he...
Feds: Georgia DOT partly responsible for I-85 bridge collapse

Feds: Georgia DOT partly responsible for I-85 bridge collapse

Federal investigators have concluded the Georgia Department of Transportation is partly to blame for the fire that destroyed part of I-85 in Atlanta and crippled the region’s traffic for weeks. Wednesday, the National Transportation Safety Board released a report that found the department’s decision to stockpile construction materials under I-85 contributed to the inferno that...
Atlanta attorney who heads FBI is in House GOP’s crosshairs

Atlanta attorney who heads FBI is in House GOP’s crosshairs

The House Intelligence Committee’s top Republican threatened to impeach FBI Director Chris Wray and another high-ranking Justice Department official if they don’t release a document related to an ongoing investigation into President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia. U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes said “there’s something wrong” with the refusal by Wray and Deputy Attorney General...
The Jolt: The Cobb forum began with drama -- and ended with attacks on Hunter Hill

The Jolt: The Cobb forum began with drama -- and ended with attacks on Hunter Hill

The Cobb County Republican Women’s Club hosted a forum Tuesday night that attracted four GOP candidates for governor. Three of them wanted to talk about Hunter Hill, including Hunter Hill. Among the missing were Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp. The event was aired live on TV 23, and so at the outset, when a toddler began to squall, the child and mother were quickly...
Handel challenger makes bold statement in first ad: ‘Thank God for Obamacare’

Handel challenger makes bold statement in first ad: ‘Thank God for Obamacare’

It wasn’t all that all that long ago when Democrats in competitive congressional races shrunk away from – or at least qualified – their support for Obamacare. But times have changed in Atlanta’s northern suburbs six months after Republicans paused their repeal effort.  Democrat Bobby Kaple is using his debut television ad in Georgia’s 6th Congressional...
Racial discrimination settlement cost Georgia GOP more than $500,000

Racial discrimination settlement cost Georgia GOP more than $500,000

The Georgia Republican Party paid more than $500,000 to settle a racial discrimination lawsuit filed by a former staffer. The state GOP confirmed last fall that it had settled the lawsuit, but most of the payments have showed up in the party’s campaign disclosure filings since then. An Atlanta Journal-Constitution review of the filings found $225,000 was paid to Qiana Keith, while at least $300...
Talks resume in Blue Cross-Piedmont Healthcare contract break

Talks resume in Blue Cross-Piedmont Healthcare contract break

It’s now been 10 days that patients of Piedmont Healthcare with Blue Cross insurance have been out of network. The two companies still have no deal to renew their contract, which expired Easter Sunday. And they’re still talking tough. But at least they’re talking. On Monday they had their first meeting since talks collapsed at the contract deadline. Blue Cross Blue Shield of...
Georgia 2018: Hill tries to fortify his gun stance at shooting range

Georgia 2018: Hill tries to fortify his gun stance at shooting range

We’ve seen campaign ads from candidates for governor this year filmed in swimming pools, obstacle courses and outside double-wide trailers. But Republican Hunter Hill gave us a first in this cycle. A digital ad he debuted this week features him at a shooting range, locking and loading a rifle before slicing a bullet through a far-off target.  The former state senator is trying to shore...
Rural health care and the coming GOP collision with reality

Rural health care and the coming GOP collision with reality

Georgia Republicans with November ambitions have just escaped one come-to-Jesus moment. Another is riding close on its heels — and the two situations have much in common. The “red-state” revolts over teacher pay in West Virginia and Oklahoma make it hard to overstate the importance of Gov. Nathan Deal’s recent decision to restore state spending on education to a pre-Great Recession...
After Delta flap, a few execs pony up to Georgia Democrats

After Delta flap, a few execs pony up to Georgia Democrats

In the days after Georgia Republicans exacted political revenge on Delta Air Lines, several high-profile business leaders and airline executives quietly threw their support behind one of the two Democrats running for governor. An Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis of recently released financial disclosures shows that some of the state’s top businessmen and high-ranking Delta employees ponied...
Kemp pushes anti-gang initiative in Georgia gov race 

Kemp pushes anti-gang initiative in Georgia gov race 

Republican Brian Kemp unveiled a “stop and dismantle” program Tuesday targeting gang activity, a new effort to emphasize crackdowns on crime and illegal immigration in his bid for Georgia governor.  Appearing with Cobb District Attorney Vic Reynolds, Kemp said he would create a statewide Gang Strike Team to help local authorities combat the crime and give the state Attorney General...
PolitiFact: File taxes on ‘one card?’ Nope

PolitiFact: File taxes on ‘one card?’ Nope

If you are struggling to finish and file your taxes right now, President Donald Trump’s promise of a much simpler form probably sounds like a godsend. But Trump’s assurance is dubious. There isn’t an option today for filing taxes on a “card” — and there’s nothing in the new law that would create one. The idea for this popped up in November. House Republicans...
Georgia Democratic congressional candidates sound off about gun safety

Georgia Democratic congressional candidates sound off about gun safety

Lucy McBath, a prominent gun control activist, is not the only Democratic candidate highlighting gun safety in the race to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Karen Handel in suburban Atlanta. McBath’s three Democratic primary opponents sounded off about the issue Monday night in a forum organized by the Jewish Democratic Women’s Salon at Heritage Sandy Springs. The moderator asked how the nation...
The Jolt: ‘Farmers are great patriots,’ says Donald Trump. ‘They understand.’

The Jolt: ‘Farmers are great patriots,’ says Donald Trump. ‘They understand.’

Once upon a time, there was a White House press secretary who had a fine way with words. When his president said one thing on Monday and contradicted it on Tuesday, Ron Ziegler declared the former statement to be “inoperative.” Hold that thought. Last week, one of our number was with former governor-turned-agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue in Michigan – part of his...
Trump to nominate Justice Grant for federal appeals court

Trump to nominate Justice Grant for federal appeals court

President Donald Trump on Tuesday will nominate Georgia Supreme Court Justice Britt Grant to fill an upcoming vacancy on the federal appeals court in Atlanta, according to an administration official familiar with the nomination. If approved by the Senate, Grant, 40, would succeed Judge Julie Carnes, who will become a senior judge in June. She was appointed to the state appellate court bench by...
A biting Abrams-Evans exchange over HOPE, state contracts 

A biting Abrams-Evans exchange over HOPE, state contracts 

The fight over the HOPE scholarship has been one of the deepest undercurrents of the Democratic race for governor. And in a recent forum, it was in the middle of the sharpest clash yet between former House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams and ex-state Rep. Stacey Evans. The exchange began with a familiar divide: Abrams said she struck a deal with ascendant Republicans in 2011 to slash the scholarship&rsquo...
Republican secretary of state candidates debate Georgia’s voting system

Republican secretary of state candidates debate Georgia’s voting system

All four Republican candidates for Georgia secretary of state said Monday they want to replace the state’s electronic voting machines with a system that creates a paper record for verification. But none of them ruled out using computers to print ballots, a voting method opposed by several election integrity groups that say it’s unsafe. Those groups prefer hand-marked paper ballots...
As 100-day mark nears, Atlanta mayor asks cabinet to resign

As 100-day mark nears, Atlanta mayor asks cabinet to resign

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told all of her cabinet members on Monday to hand in their resignations by the end of the day.The group includes about 35 top city officials. Once she’s made further assessments, Bottoms said in a statement, she’ll determine which resignations to accept. The statement did not provide a time-frame for the assessment.
More than $22 million has been pumped into Georgia governor’s race

More than $22 million has been pumped into Georgia governor’s race

The candidates for Georgia governor added millions of dollars more to their campaign fundraising hauls over the past two months. The two Democrats and five leading Republicans collected thousands of new donors — and began to seriously ratchet up their spending — ahead of the May 22 primary. In all, according to financial reports filed late Friday, the candidates have raised or loaned themselves...
Atlanta mayor sets stage for City Hall shake-up  

Atlanta mayor sets stage for City Hall shake-up  

We’re told that at her meeting with Cabinet-level officials on Monday, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms asked for the resignation of every top Atlanta official. There’s no indication that she will accept them all, but the action presages a house-cleaning expected to occur before her 100th day in office.  The demand comes after the latest federal indictment last week in the long-running...
Podcast: Races to watch ahead of next month’s Georgia primaries

Podcast: Races to watch ahead of next month’s Georgia primaries

This is not a drill. Georgia’s 2018 General Primary Election is next month on May 22.  The latest episode of the Politically Georgia podcast will help you prepare for it. AJC’s Washington correspondent Tamar Hallerman joins host Greg Bluestein to discuss Georgia’s big issues and races ahead of the primaries. Hallerman also discusses an upcoming story on Secretary of Agriculture...
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