Political Insider

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A pitch to GOP leaders to help Nathan Deal get 'back on message'


Gov. Nathan Deal's camp wants to change the subject from the ongoing fallout over the ethics memo.

The following message was sent to Republican state senators in the wake of that memo, in which ethics chief Holly LaBerge said she was threatened by Deal's top staffers.

It's another sign that Deal's aides, accused of urging LaBerge to make complaints against the governor "go away," want this story to head that same route. It included talking points to help them stay on a "singular message to get back on topic and win this campaign."

Here goes:

Dear Senator,

As I am sure you have noticed, our opponent has succeeded this week in getting the media away from talking about the issues and concentrating on a smear campaign against Governor Deal. Jason Carter knows that he is losing the debate on jobs, the economy, and education. The only way for him to win is by driving up the governor's negatives with false attacks. We are determined to win this campaign on the issues, but in order to get the dialogue back on jobs, we must first set the record straight with these allegations. That process started on Wednesday with Gov. Deal not backing down from Doug Richards' ambush interview, continued with a lengthy sit down with Erick Erickson yesterday, and will culminate today with an interview with Dale Russell. In order for us to get back on message, Nathan Deal can't be the only one pushing back against false attacks. We need you.

Governor Deal has asked me to gather all GOP State Senators and State Representatives for a conference call at 9am Monday morning for him to go through the facts of this story along with our collective response. The call-in information is below. I hope that you can join us. It will take all of us working together with a singular message to get back on topic and win this campaign.


Tom Willis

Campaign Manager

Deal for Governor

In other words, next Monday -- on the day before Republicans choose their candidate for U.S. Senate, the political world is likely to be talking about something else.


Meanwhile, Carter revived an effort to persuade Attorney General Sam Olens to open an independent investigation into the handling of the complaints. Two earlier attempts were rejected by Olens as political gamesmanship.

In the letter, which you can find here, Carter said the memo “adds significant new dimensions” to the case, and suggested that Riley and Teague violated state law.

“It is implausible that these individuals would go to such great lengths to quash the Deal investigation unless there were serious improprieties to hide,” he wrote, demanding a detailed explanation if the request was denied.

“In your view, what tools does the state government have at its disposal to investigate illegal activity by its top elected officials and their staff? If not your office, who is the appropriate actor to investigate this apparently illegal activity?”

No word back from Olens office yet, but we're not holding our breath on this one.

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.