Political Insider

An AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns. Because all politics is local.

Buddy Carter faces conflict of interest questions over pharmacy bills

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter is under scrutiny for co-sponsoring legislation that could benefit his pharmacy business.

A report by Fox 5 Atlanta questioned whether the Savannah Republican, a licensed pharmacist who owned pharmacies in south Georgia before he was elected in 2014, had a conflict of interest.

Carter, who transferred his pharmacies to his wife, was the only pharmacist in Congress before November's election and a vocal advocate of the pharmacy lobby's top issues.

He backed measures that would give seniors on Medicare more access to prescription drugs at their pharmacies and another that would give pharmacists "provider status" to expand their scope of practice.

Carter told Dale Russell the legislation was already written by other lawmakers before his election, and that the House Ethics Committee gave him verbal approval for his role.

But Brinkley Serkedekis of the Common Cause transparency advocacy told Russell the legislation financially benefits Carter as well, making it a "clear violation of the spirit" of House ethics rules.

Watch and read Russell's full report here:


It is the longest of long shots: A pair of Georgia Democrats said Tuesday they plan to introduce legislation that would overhaul the way legislative districts are drawn by taking it away from the Legislature and giving it to an independent commission.

State Sen. Elena Parent and state Rep. Pat Gardner acknowledged at a press conference Tuesday it was virtually impossible to secure its passage in the GOP-held Legislature.

But they also sent two other important signals. First, they haven't closed the door on legal action that could force changes in the way districts are drawn, such as the lawsuits in North Carolina and Virginia that could force sweeping changes.

And second, they also wanted to serve notice to their fellow Democrats that they will press for the bill if their party ever regained control of the legislative branch.

"This is not about partisan advantage," said Gardner. "We have members of the Democratic caucus who won't sign the bill, and Republicans who are appalled by it."


Add U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson to the list of congressional Republicans backing a Capitol Hill investigation into possible Russian interference of the U.S. election.

We’re told Georgia’s senior Republican senator backs an Intelligence Committee-led investigation, “but ultimately is confident that our intelligence agencies are doing everything they can to keep us safe.”

We’re still waiting to hear back on where David Perdue stands. Democratic Party of Georgia chair DuBose Porter pounced on the news.

"Democrats strongly urge members of Georgia’s congressional delegation to join the call for the establishment of an independent, bi-partisan commission to investigate the full extent and scope of Russia’s interference in the election," said Porter. "The gravity of this threat to our security is above politics and action must be taken immediately.”


As police continue to investigate the death of Tex McIver's wife, the Republican attorney skipped a hearing before the State Board of Elections.

McIver shot and killed his wife Diane a little more than two months ago as the couple rode back to their Buckhead condo after a weekend at their horse ranch in Putnam County. He has said it was an accident.

His absence on the five-member panel, coupled with another no-show and one member who recused himself, forced Secretary of State Brian Kemp on Tuesday to call for a new hearing on a debate before the board.


State Rep. Betty Price hasn't closed the door on a run for her husband's U.S. House seat.

The Roswell Republican said in a statement Tuesday it was "premature" to announce her decision until the governor sets a date for qualifying.

He's likely to announce that date early next year, with U.S. Rep. Tom Price expected to face confirmation hearings in January to be Donald Trump's health secretary. The husband-and-wife duo were at Trump Tower this week.


Sometimes the dominoes don't fall.

With news leaking that Donald Trump picked Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke to lead the Department of Interior, U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers underscored her plans to stay in the House.

McMorris Rodgers staying in the House means that she's also likely to remain in her position as GOP conference chair, the No. 4 position in the House Republican leadership.

That means Gainesville Republican Doug Collins will be staying put in the No. 5 House leadership position that he won last month. The lawyer and former chaplain was at one point considering a run for McMorris Rodgers’ leadership position should she have been tapped for Donald Trump's Cabinet.


Democratic uber-lawyer Jeremy Berry argues that it's time to allow Georgians to take "selfies" at the ballot box.

From his column in the SaportaReport:

[The] Georgia legislature should repeal the statute that prohibits Georgians from taking “voter selfies” at the ballot box. Though Justin Timberlake presumably had good intentions when he took and posted a “voting selfie” recently, his actions might have violated Tennessee’s law against such photography in the voting booth. Similarly, Georgia law currently states that “no photography shall be allowed of a ballot or the face of a voting machine” (O.C.G.A. § 21-2-413(e)). Georgia and Tennessee are not alone: more than 18 states prohibit photography in polling locations, including voting selfies.




Allowing voters to post pictures of their ballot or of people voting could encourage more people to vote and foster even more pride in voting. There is something memorable about voting for the first time or participating in a historic election.  Imagine if a voter could document and share a picture of such a vote.


Someone is gearing up for a run for higher office.

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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, covering Congress, federal agencies and other government activities that impact Georgia.