Political Insider

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

Ga. Congressman: Use fed money to clear rape kit backlog ‘unless they’re a sanctuary city’

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter said he’s supportive of using federal grant money to help clear the rape kit backlog - but only for cities that are compliant with federal immigration law.

The left-leaning blog Jezebel has footage of the Pooler Republican staking that position at one of his nine town halls this week across his coastal Georgia district.

After a constituent asked him about what he could do as a member of Congress to cut through the local backlog, Carter said, “if there are grants available, we’ll do everything we can to help them.”

He then quipped, “unless they’re a sanctuary city. Then we won’t,” a remark that drew some chuckles from the Homerville crowd.

Carter doubled down when another constituent asked about his comment.

“I voted for a bill that does not allow for federal law enforcement grants to go to any sanctuary cities,” he said. “I was very serious about that.”

“If you’re a sanctuary city,” Carter added, “that means you are refusing to enforce our immigration laws here in the United States, and if you’re doing that then I don’t want to be sending you any federal grants to go to your city.”

The second-term lawmaker was one of 225 House Republicans and three Democrats to help pass the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act in June, which would let the federal government deny so-called sanctuary cities federal grants. That includes the Justice Department, which has set aside money for cutting down on the rape kit backlog. The bill has yet to move in the Senate.

Sanctuary cities are jurisdictions that limit how local police can cooperate with the feds on immigration. President Donald Trump has promised a crackdown against those cities, which he says are breaking the law.

Georgia has outlawed sanctuary cities since 2009 and now requires local governments to certify they’re cooperating with federal immigration officials in order to get state funding. Atlanta has said it is a welcoming city for immigrants, but doesn’t technically label itself a sanctuary city.

Georgia has more than 10,000 untested kits backlog sitting in local police evidence lockers, according to the Joyful Heart Foundation, a nonprofit that tracks the backlog. A state law that passed in the final minutes of the 2016 legislative session requires Georgia law enforcement to find and count untested sexual assault evidence.

State Rep. Scott Holcomb, the DeKalb Democrat who sponsored the legislation, called Carter's position "indefensible."

This is not the first time Carter has taken heat for his more candid comments.

He faced blowback from the LGBT community for his comments backing Trump's transgender military ban. He also made national news for remarking that someone should "snatch a knot" in the Senate's behind for its failure to pass Obamacare repeal legislation.

Reader Comments ...

About the Author

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