Political Insider

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

Steve Bannon asks Bernie Marcus to fund revolt against Mitch McConnell

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was in Atlanta earlier this month to meet with Republican uber-donor Bernie Marcus -- and vent about the lackluster accomplishments of establishment GOPers.

Politico.com reported that Bannon's sit-down with Marcus was one of a string of meetings the populist has had with wealthy donors he hopes will finance more primary challenges against incumbent allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell:

A Home Depot co-founder who's been one of the most prolific givers to Senate Republicans, Marcus fumed to Bannon for hours about the lack of return on his investment. In the past six months alone, Marcus has funneled $2 million to a super PAC aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and tens of thousands more to the National Republican Senatorial Committee — only to watch the Senate fail again and again.

Marcus adviser Steve Hantler told Politico said the Home Depot co-founder would wait to see if the GOP passed legislation by the end of the year before making up his mind.

Marcus sent an estimated $7 million the way of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. But he also has been a rare high-profile defender of Bannon. Shortly after the election last year, he said "what is being done to Steve Bannon is a shonda" - the Yiddish word for shame.

Marcus is also on something of a timetable. From the May edition of Inside Philanthropy magazine:

Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus is 88 and has a net worth of $4.3 billion. He and his wife Billi are signatories of the Giving Pledge. In fact, they were among the first crop of billionaires to sign the pledge, and at the time, Bernie wrote that "it has always been my belief that leaving enormous wealth for our children does nothing to stimulate their ability to make it on their own."

(Greg Bluestein)


What the widow of a fallen soldier said this morning. Via the Associated Press:

Myeshia Johnson told ABC's "Good Morning America" in an interview that Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson was practically a member of their family and was among a group of people listening to Trump's call on a speaker phone as they drove to receive Sgt. La David Johnson's body.

"The president said that he knew what he signed up for but it hurts anyway," Johnson said. "And it made me cry because I was very angry at the tone of his voice and how he said it. He couldn't remember my husband's name. The only way he could remember my husband's name was he told me he had my husband's report in front of him and that's when he actually said La David."

And what the president replied:


No doubt you’ve heard about state Rep. Betty Price’s “provocative” question last week about whether those with HIV can be quarantined. Elton John, who has a pied-a-terre in Atlanta, is the latest to express his anger:

"Rep. Betty Price's comments about people living with HIV are horrific, discriminatory, and astonishingly ill-informed. As a doctor and elected official from a state where people are still contracting HIV at an alarming rate, Mrs. Price should know better than to demonize people and perpetuate myths that stigmatize people living with HIV.

“Her words smack of a dark time when there was little or no information about HIV and people were afraid of each other. Today, thanks to scientific advancements, growing acceptance and love, people living with HIV are living longer, healthier lives. We also know people living with HIV pose no public threat.”


Chances of that Congress will produce substantial findings about Russian attempts to influence the 2016 presidential race are dwindling. From the New York Times:

All three committees looking into Russian interference — one in the House, two in the Senate — have run into problems, from insufficient staffing to fights over when the committees should wrap up their investigations. The Senate Judiciary Committee’s inquiry has barely started, delayed in part by negotiations over the scope of the investigation. Leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee, while maintaining bipartisan comity, have sought to tamp down expectations about what they might find.


Georgia political strategist Nick Ayers, the top aide to Vice President Mike Pence, is worth at least $12 million. Politico reported the 35-year-old one-time campaign manager to Sonny Perdue filed a financial disclosure revealing significant payments from Pence's gubernatorial campaign, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens' campaign and Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner. The corporate clients for his firm, C5 Creative Consulting, include Coca-Cola and Aflac.


Our AJC colleague James Salzer reports that, despite major data breaches like the one at Equifax, tax agencies like the Georgia Department of Revenue are reporting increasing success in the war to stop fraudulent returns from turning into big money for crooks. Department of Revenue Commissioner Lynne Riley said the state has blocked $108 million worth of fraudulent returns so far this year.


The Macon Telegraph reports that the police chief of Greensboro, Ga., is being accused in a federal lawsuit of harassing a receptionist of Asian descent in his department by, among other things, quoting to her sexually suggestive lines from the movie “Full Metal Jacket,” including, “Me love you long time.”


U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, is displeased with Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to scale back an Obama-era program aimed at reforming police departments. The liberal Democrat, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, wrote to Sessions on Friday asking for more information about his decision to effectively end one of the core missions of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, particularly as the national debate over police shootings has been reignited due to recent NFL protests. “It is my understanding that the program will now focus on providing resources to law enforcement agencies fighting violent crime,” Johnson wrote. “Given the persistent nature of police misconduct issues plaguing certain communities – especially communities of color – I believe this is in error.” (Tamar Hallerman)


U.S. Rep. Karen Handel, R-Roswell, was quick to seize onto news that her former congressional opponent Jon Ossoff recently moved to Sixth District. In a cheeky fundraising notice sent out Friday, the Roswell Republican welcomed the Democrat to the neighborhood before asking supporters to donate in order to beat back any future challenges at the ballot box. “The Sixth district is home to the best Georgia has to offer, and we hope Ossoff can make himself at home!” the email reads. Ossoff, who grew up in the Sixth, still hasn’t ruled out a comeback bid against Handel. His prior address outside the Sixth near Emory University drew him criticism during the campaign. (TH)


South Fulton Mayor Bill Edwards endorsed Democrat Stacey Evans for governor, giving her another prominent African-American leader in her corner. Edwards said Evans was "smart, works as hard as I do, and does not quit. She will be a force for those that need her strength." Evans faces Stacey Abrams, who is vying to be the nation's first black female governor, in next year's primary.


The state Capitol is mourning the death of Elaine Myers, a longtime House employee. The Sharpsburg resident retired from the General Assembly in 2014, but returned to work part time in the House majority leader's office during the 2015 session. She then worked as one of the page desk supervisors in the 2016 session, but illness prevented her from returning to the page desk in the 2017 session.

"Elaine Myers was an institution at the state capitol. She was a beacon of joy in an environment that can sometimes get caught up in political conflict and tension. She served this state with a cheerful heart and with grace,” said House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge.

Services will be 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 5, at Peachtree City Christian Church, 500 Kedron Drive, Peachtree City, GA. 30269. Visitation will be held an hour earlier.

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About the Author

Jim Galloway is a three-decade veteran of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution who writes the Political Insider blog and column.