Politics

Ethics complaint targets Georgia tea party leader 

Ethics complaint targets Georgia tea party leader 

A Republican attorney filed an ethics complaint Friday claiming a prominent Georgia tea party leader failed to register as a lobbyist and disclose most of her political advocacy work. The complaint targets Debbie Dooley, a co-founder of the Atlanta Tea Party Patriots who has attracted national attention for her advocacy for alternative energy initiatives.  The ethics charge, filed by Bryan...
Less than half as many Georgia voters showed up for runoffs

Less than half as many Georgia voters showed up for runoffs

Turnout for Georgia’s statewide runoffs fell off from last month’s high-interest election for governor, but more voters showed up than in most runoff elections. About 21 percent of registered voters — nearly 1.5 million — cast ballots in the Dec. 4 runoff elections for Georgia secretary of state and Public Service Commission, according to state election data.  That&rsquo...
Georgia activists hold clemency rally for Tenn. inmate Cyntoia Brown

Georgia activists hold clemency rally for Tenn. inmate Cyntoia Brown

A few dozen activists gathered at the state Capitol in Atlanta on Saturday afternoon to urge the governor of Tennessee to grant clemency to a woman sentenced to life in prison for a crime that occurred when she was 16. Cyntoia Brown has said she was forced into prostitution as a minor and she shot and killed 43-year-old Johnny Allen in 2004 while in fear for her life. Brown, whose case has attracted...
JUST IN: Georgia AG Carr touts Obamacare ruling in suit Georgia helped bring

JUST IN: Georgia AG Carr touts Obamacare ruling in suit Georgia helped bring

Reaction in Georgia was swift to a ruling Friday night from a federal judge in Texas striking down the entire Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Chris Carr, Georgia’s attorney general, said the ruling was just what he and other Republican leaders had argued, when Carr in February added Georgia’s weight behind the lawsuit as one of 20 states challenging the law. “My...
Expansion of Medicaid for Georgia’s poor on the table, with a twist

Expansion of Medicaid for Georgia’s poor on the table, with a twist

A leading Georgia state senator voiced full-throated support for expanding government health coverage for the poor under a federal “waiver,” similar to what Vice President Mike Pence did when he was governor of Indiana. The comments came Friday during a testy study committee hearing about hospital financing. The committee’s chairman, state Sen. Ben Watson, R-Savannah, had proposed...
Obamacare open enrollment ends Saturday, but extension is possible

Obamacare open enrollment ends Saturday, but extension is possible

Saturday is the last day when Georgians can sign up for 2019 health plans under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Enrollment has been lagging across the country, including in Georgia. Reasons could include less money being dedicated to outreach and advertising this year; more people receiving coverage through employer-sponsored insurance; and confusion about the status of the Obamacare...
Jonesboro Democrat wants police chase policy for all of Georgia

Jonesboro Democrat wants police chase policy for all of Georgia

A southwest Atlanta woman was heading to church in January 2016 with her two grandchildren when a man fleeing College Park police slammed into their car, killing all three. Now their family is urging Georgia lawmakers to establish a statewide policy for when officers should pursue a suspect and when they should call off that chase to keep the public safe. “State Patrol gets a year of training...
New board to oversee transit expansion across metro Atlanta

New board to oversee transit expansion across metro Atlanta

State lawmakers have given the Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority – “the ATL” for short – major powers over transit funding and planning in 13 metro counties. It will draft a regional transit plan, funnel billions of dollars to favored projects and bump others down the list of regional priorities. Critics say the agency’s board – which held its first meeting...
AJC INVESTIGATION: How Brian Kemp turned warning of election system vulnerability against Democrats 

AJC INVESTIGATION: How Brian Kemp turned warning of election system vulnerability against Democrats 

Brian Kemp, the Republican candidate for governor, had a problem. As did Brian Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state. It was Nov. 3, a Saturday, 72 hours to Election Day. Virtually tied in the polls with Democrat Stacey Abrams, Kemp was in danger of becoming the first Georgia Republican to lose a statewide election since 2006. And, now, a new threat. The secretary of state’s office had left...
The Jolt: Donald Trump and the other thing that happened in August 2015

The Jolt: Donald Trump and the other thing that happened in August 2015

Late this summer, federal prosecutors in New York promulgated a 22-page list of Michael Cohen’s sins against the U.S. legal code. The charges against President Donald Trump’s longtime personal lawyer included this paragraph: On Wednesday, in a non-prosecution agreement, the feds revealed Corporation-1 to be National Enquirer publisher American Media Inc., which admitted making a $150...
‘Pet projects?’ How Deal has transformed his hometown of Gainesville

‘Pet projects?’ How Deal has transformed his hometown of Gainesville

Gov. Nathan Deal stood before a crowd of dozens of Gainesville’s elite on a chilly fall afternoon and told the crowd he hadn’t expected to see them again so soon. “I keep thinking it’s my last address here as governor,” he told the audience at an event announcing another multimillion-dollar investment in his hometown, “and I keep coming back with more good news...
Capitol Recap: White House spat muddies Georgia’s hurricane recovery

Capitol Recap: White House spat muddies Georgia’s hurricane recovery

The storm that passed through the White House this week has cast a cloud over funding for Hurricane Michael recovery efforts. The White House clash Tuesday between President Donald Trump and Democratic congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer heightened the possibility of a federal government shutdown later this month. The issue of contention is funding for Trump’s long-promised...
HBCUs and Trump: up and down relationship

HBCUs and Trump: up and down relationship

When President Donald Trump last year held an impromptu meeting in the Oval Office with presidents of many of the nation’s historically black colleges and universities, it was a moment that sparked speculation of unprecedented support for the schools. “With this executive order, we will make HBCUs a priority in the White House — an absolute priority,” Trump said at the time...
Ossoff strikes populist tone as he mulls Senate bid 

Ossoff strikes populist tone as he mulls Senate bid 

Cornelia – Jon Ossoff’s bid for Georgia’s 6th District brought him to all corners of Atlanta suburbs, but late Thursday he arrived at a new setting: A crowded library meeting hall in deeply-conservative Habersham County.  The investigative journalist raised $30 million in last year’s special election for the U.S. House seat, which he lost to Republican Karen Handel...
The Jolt: A different ‘religious liberty’ approach from Georgia’s newest Fortune 500 firm 

The Jolt: A different ‘religious liberty’ approach from Georgia’s newest Fortune 500 firm 

When General Electric announced two years ago it picked Atlanta as the home of its new digital division, the corporate giant’s top tech executive was unequivocal: Gov. Nathan Deal’s veto of a “religious liberty” measure paved the way for the move. Now in his final month as governor, Deal on Wednesday celebrated another Fortune 500 firm’s decision to plant roots in Atlanta...
Report: Georgia Power coal ash ponds leaking toxins into groundwater

Report: Georgia Power coal ash ponds leaking toxins into groundwater

Eleven of Georgia’s 12 coal-powered plants are leaking chemicals into the groundwater, according to a study by a group of environmentalists that was released Thursday. Ten of those 11 plants are owned by Georgia Power, the state’s leading energy supplier. Georgia Power officials said repeated tests over the past several years show that chemicals from any leakage have not had an impact...
Lobbyists spend big feeding lawmakers during Georgia’s special session

Lobbyists spend big feeding lawmakers during Georgia’s special session

Last month’s special session of the General Assembly cost the state about $40,000 a day to pay lawmakers, but taxpayers weren’t the only ones stuck with a bill. Lobbyists spent about $20,000 during the five-day session in mid-November, mostly for feeding lawmakers and their staffers, according to a review by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Likely the biggest spenders during the session...
Public’s access to records still a challenge for metro Atlanta agencies

Public’s access to records still a challenge for metro Atlanta agencies

Two years ago, student journalists with the Georgia News Lab asked the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office for the agency’s use of force policy, a public record readily available in every law enforcement agency’s operations manual. Cobb fulfilled the request — 54 days later. This year, News Lab repeated the exercise. Same request. Same policy. But Cobb sent the document the same day...
Most Georgia lawmakers back farm bill, but some see missed opportunity

Most Georgia lawmakers back farm bill, but some see missed opportunity

Most Georgia lawmakers on Capitol Hill endorsed a sprawling farm policy bill on Wednesday that dodged a fierce debate over food stamps that had previously divided the state’s delegation, agriculture officials and anti-hunger players. Local farm and commodity groups, as well as the head of the Atlanta Community Food Bank, cheered the passage of the $867 billion farm bill, which would set federal...
Railroad giant’s new Atlanta HQ a triumph of city-state alliance

Railroad giant’s new Atlanta HQ a triumph of city-state alliance

Norfolk Southern made official Wednesday what was long expected — that the company’s headquarters is moving from Virginia to Atlanta. The formal announcement that Georgia had coaxed the railroad giant out of Norfolk to a future glitzy office complex in Midtown is a swan song of sorts for Gov. Nathan Deal, who has made economic development one of the cornerstones of his two terms in office...
Isakson aided MiMedx in its frustrations with VA

Isakson aided MiMedx in its frustrations with VA

Parker “Pete” Petit was in a bind. One of his biopharma company’s top customers, the Department of Veterans Affairs, in 2016 was looking to cut down on purchases, and the Atlanta VA had started scaling back on products from MiMedx, calling them costly and unproven, according to a Tuesday report in The Wall Street Journal. So Petit turned to long-time friend Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia...
Disagreement persists over replacement Georgia voting system

Disagreement persists over replacement Georgia voting system

A group responsible for vetting a more secure and trustworthy Georgia voting system struggled Wednesday to reach agreement over whether to pursue hand-marked paper ballots or touchscreen machines that print ballots. The group of election officials, state lawmakers, political party representatives and voters debated the state’s options to replace its 16-year-old electronic voting machines...
Norfolk Southern CEO: Atlanta will be ‘a great corporate home for us’

Norfolk Southern CEO: Atlanta will be ‘a great corporate home for us’

Railroad giant Norfolk Southern formally announced Wednesday its plans to relocate its headquarters from Virginia to Midtown Atlanta. The negotiations to land Georgia’s 21st Fortune 500 company became public in September when it was learned that not only was Norfolk Southern negotiating to sell its land holdings in the Gulch for developer CIM Group’s planned $5 billion downtown mini-city...
Judge denies environmentalists’ request to halt construction at Sea Island

Judge denies environmentalists’ request to halt construction at Sea Island

Developers of a coastal resort can continue building a barrier that aims to prevent beach erosion after a judge declined to halt construction while a lawsuit works its way through federal court. A federal judge this week ruled that developers of The Reserve, a proposed upscale housing development on Sea Island, can continue to build the “T-head groin,” which they said would also protect...
Isakson aided company accused of channel stuffing, WSJ reports

Isakson aided company accused of channel stuffing, WSJ reports

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson intervened to help MiMedx, a Marietta biopharma accused of over-shipping its products to Veterans Affairs hospitals, when the VA began scrutinizing the company, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. A few months prior, MiMedx had sent Isakson, R-Georgia, a check for $15,000, which was passed along to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, his spokeswoman...
The Jolt: Abrams is back on TV, this time with a healthcare message

The Jolt: Abrams is back on TV, this time with a healthcare message

Since losing the race for governor Stacey Abrams has filed a lawsuit challenging the electoral system, waded into national voting rights debates and dropped hints that she’s preparing for another bid for office.  Now she’s made another move that telegraphs “I’m running for something.” Her group, Fair Fight Action, is airing TV ads to remind Georgians about the...
Torpy at Large: How scooters have Atlanta falling hard to regulate ’em

Torpy at Large: How scooters have Atlanta falling hard to regulate ’em

For the past six months, the city of Atlanta has witnessed a libertarian free-for-all in the field of micro-transportation: The onslaught of electric scooters. In May, Bird scooters popped up on Intown sidewalks much like mushrooms in a cow field after a rain. A month later, that company’s hated competitor, Lime, rolled out hundreds of their own contraptions. The devices are now ubiquitous...
How Atlanta landed Norfolk Southern’s new HQ 

How Atlanta landed Norfolk Southern’s new HQ 

The alliance between the Gold Dome and Atlanta City Hall that helped forge a publicly-financed plan to build a mini-city atop downtown’s long-neglected Gulch also laid the tracks to snag a Fortune 500 company. Gov. Nathan Deal and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms are set to formally announce on Wednesday the decision by railroad giant Norfolk Southern to leave its Virginia headquarters...
David Ralston: On finding cash for rural broadband, ‘religious liberty’ and teacher pay raises

David Ralston: On finding cash for rural broadband, ‘religious liberty’ and teacher pay raises

Athens -- When the Legislature convenes in January, the state will have a new governor, and a new lieutenant governor – who will preside over the Senate. Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, will be the Capitol veteran, entering his ninth year as leader of the House. On Tuesday, at the close of a three-day, biennial gathering held here expressly for newly elected state lawmakers, Gov.-elect...
In Georgia, water rollback divides on property rights vs. environment

In Georgia, water rollback divides on property rights vs. environment

Some of Georgia’s top Republican elected officials, agricultural organizations and business development groups cheered the Trump administration’s move Tuesday to roll back a sweeping Obama-era clean water regulation aimed at protecting tributaries to navigable waterways. Georgia has helped lead opposition to the 2015 rule, known as Waters of the U.S., in federal court, arguing that...
Georgia inspector general asked to look into gifts to state employees

Georgia inspector general asked to look into gifts to state employees

A government watchdog group asked Georgia’s inspector general to look into whether a group that did work for the State Charter Schools Commission violated state law by not reporting it paid for agency staffers to attend events across the country and offered them stipends. The filing by Common Cause Georgia on Tuesday was the second such action since The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported...
Georgia Power seeks more renewable energy in-state

Georgia Power seeks more renewable energy in-state

Georgia Power is seeking proposals from renewable energy companies to obtain 540 megawatts of solar, biomass and wind power, as part of its commitment to diversify its energy sources in Georgia. The purchases, through Georgia Power’s Renewable Energy Development Initiative (REDI), will be the final action to fulfill a 2016 deal approved by the Georgia Public Service Commission to provide 1,200...
Medical marijuana farming and sales proposed in Georgia

Medical marijuana farming and sales proposed in Georgia

Georgia lawmakers are recommending that the state government pass laws next year to allow hemp farming and cannabis oil distribution. The proposals from two Republican-led committees would help provide medical marijuana to Georgia’s 6,000 registered patients and give farmers another crop to support themselves. Cultivation, manufacture and distribution of medical marijuana products...
Striking new tone, Kemp says ‘it’s time to put politics behind us’

Striking new tone, Kemp says ‘it’s time to put politics behind us’

Gov.-elect Brian Kemp struck a different tone Tuesday in his first major speech since his narrow victory, outlining an agenda focusing on boosting rural Georgia and small businesses that avoided talk of divisive social legislation. The Republican aimed to distance himself from the attacks he unleashed during the campaign, urging the crowd of more than 100 legislators at the biennial training session...
The Jolt: A preview of what a voting machine overhaul could look like

The Jolt: A preview of what a voting machine overhaul could look like

The group appointed by Brian Kemp to recommend a new voting system will meet Wednesday for the first time since the election. And a series of recommendations from a panelist obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution sets some goal posts for what they could address. The report from Wenke Lee, a Georgia Tech professor who serves as the panel’s cybersecurity expert, outlines the potential threats...
Expect a softer tone from Kemp at first major speech 

Expect a softer tone from Kemp at first major speech 

Athens - If Gov.-elect Brian Kemp wants to distance himself from the incendiary political attacks he unleashed during his campaign, his first major speech since his victory offers him a chance to do so.   The Republican is set to address lawmakers Tuesday at the legislative biennial in Athens, and he’s likely to strike a vastly different tone than he did during the divisive race...
Congressional report slams Equifax for 2017 data breach

Congressional report slams Equifax for 2017 data breach

The cyber breach of the credit reporting agency Equifax that exposed the sensitive personal data of 148 million Americans last year was “entirely preventable” and due in part to outdated security systems and an unaccountable corporate management structure, according to a blistering report from congressional investigators. The Republican staff of the House Oversight and Government Reform...
Judge delays court hearing on Gulch project as sides ready for battle

Judge delays court hearing on Gulch project as sides ready for battle

A Fulton County judge has given the city of Atlanta and opponents of the massive Gulch project until next week to ready their arguments for why public bonds should or should not be issued to help fund the $5 billion development. Fulton County Superior Court Chief Judge Robert McBurney on Monday continued a hearing to “validate” bonds for the sprawling 40-acre site until Dec. 19. Under...
The Jolt: By coming home, Nick Ayers cuts through a web of loyalties

The Jolt: By coming home, Nick Ayers cuts through a web of loyalties

As Donald Trump goes back to the drawing board in his search for a new top aide, Georgia operative Nick Ayers is preparing to head home – and launch his next venture. Ayers had been the president’s top choice for chief of staff -- the New York Times reported a press release announcing his hire was even primed to go -- but the two men couldn’t come to terms over how long...
Final week for Obamacare open enrollment has high stakes

Final week for Obamacare open enrollment has high stakes

This is the final week to sign up for 2019 health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act before open enrollment closes Saturday. And patient advocates are growing concerned. Compared with this time last year, enrollment is lagging, with 182,000 Georgians selecting a plan under the ACA, also known as Obamacare. “That’s definitely slower than what we saw this time last year,&rdquo...
Georgia operative Ayers won’t take Trump’s top job

Georgia operative Ayers won’t take Trump’s top job

Georgia operative Nick Ayers, a top aide to Vice President Mike Pence, is headed back to Atlanta soon after he declined Sunday to take the job as President Donald Trump’s chief of staff. Ayers, 36, was long rumored to be Trump’s top choice to replace outgoing chief of staff John Kelly, a retired U.S. Marine Corps general who the president said will leave the job by year’s end. But...
Georgia House election do-over separated by just two votes

Georgia House election do-over separated by just two votes

A Republican incumbent appears to have lost a rare repeat election for a Georgia House seat by just two votes, but he has yet to concede the race and is considering his legal options. After about a dozen outstanding provisional and absentee ballots were tallied, Chris Erwin’s lead over state Rep. Dan Gasaway narrowed from three votes to two votes.  The repeat election was ordered...
Judge says JQC director ordered him off case involving influential attorneys

Judge says JQC director ordered him off case involving influential attorneys

Earlier this year, the director of the state’s judicial watchdog agency called a judge about his oversight of a business dispute and influenced him to withdraw from the case. That involvement by the Judicial Qualifications Commission in a south Georgia lawsuit now is raising the kinds of concerns critics voiced when the Legislature overhauled the agency, an investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution...
Atlanta stadium authority seeks tighter contracting policy

Atlanta stadium authority seeks tighter contracting policy

The board of the city of Atlanta’s stadium authority, whose portfolio includes State Farm Arena and a handful of other public facilities, voted Friday to develop a tighter policy for when contracts must receive the board’s approval. The move comes about two months after a joint Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News investigation revealed the Atlanta Fulton County...
The arrival of apartment-based politics in north metro Atlanta

The arrival of apartment-based politics in north metro Atlanta

Since the drubbing that Republicans suffered in metro Atlanta’s northern suburbs last month, something that Fran Millar said had nagged at me. A state senator from Dunwoody, Millar was one of several GOP state lawmakers who saw their seats washed away by a blue wave on Election Day. Twenty-four hours after his loss, Millar was quick to acknowledge the backlash to President Donald Trump as the...
The Jolt: A call to ‘revolutionize’ state regulation of hospitals, and tax satellite TV

The Jolt: A call to ‘revolutionize’ state regulation of hospitals, and tax satellite TV

The House Rural Development Council on Thursday dropped its wish-list for the 2019 session of the Legislature, calling for lawmakers to “revolutionize” the current state system that regulates hospitals, and a lower but expanded sales tax that would cover satellite TV and digital purchases. Given that we just finished a gubernatorial campaign in which rural portions of the state accounted...
Capitol Recap: Georgia voting has ended. Talk about it hasn’t.

Capitol Recap: Georgia voting has ended. Talk about it hasn’t.

After a primary and primary runoff, a general election and another runoff, it looks like — with the exception of a state House District race in North Georgia where the difference Tuesday was only three votes — that an end can finally be called on the 2018 campaign season. It won’t, however, put a halt to talk about voting. First, 12 lawsuits sprinkled across federal and...
Some Democrats plan to boycott ‘hateful’ Kemp’s first major speech 

Some Democrats plan to boycott ‘hateful’ Kemp’s first major speech 

A Democratic state legislator plans to boycott Gov.-elect’s first major speech and is encouraging other colleagues to forgo the event, previewing what could be a rocky reception from progressives still fuming over his victory last month.  State Rep. Renitta Shannon invoked Kemp’s handling of elections and his selfie with an anti-Muslim extremist in her decision to boycott...
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