#weknownathan

Yesterday Nathan Deal’s campaign operatives launched a new slogan complete with t-shirts and bumper stickers, #weknownathan. And yep, the Democrats, with the always keen work of Better Georgia, co-opted it and made it ours. Even the Conservative Peach Pundit scolded the Deal campaign for its utter cluelessness about social media.

A quick search of #weknownathan shows that Deal’s campaign wasn’t even savvy enough to secure the Twitter handle @weknownathan or register the domain weknownathan.com.

#weknownathan but wish we didn’t.  That’s exactly why I am voting @carter4governor in November.

#weknownathan

Dial up the pressure on Gov Deal

from the good folks at Better Georgia:

Better Georgia

Gov. Nathan Deal is no stranger to ethics investigations.

In fact, he’s earned the nickname “Teflon Deal” for his ability to duck responsibility for his unethical conduct as a Congressman and as Governor.

But Gov. Nathan Deal’s ethics problems just got much, much more serious. 

New reports reveal the FBI and a federal grand jury want to examine documents and witnesses related to Gov. Deal’s ethics violations and an alleged cover-up at the state ethics commission.

WSB-TV and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution are reporting that at least five current and former state ethics officials have been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury.

Make no mistake; this is no longer an ethics investigation.

This is a criminal investigation.

Governor Nathan Deal: (404) 656-1776

The governor and his team want you to believe this is nothing more than an intra-office skirmish. They want you to believe that because Gov. Deal paid a small fine this is now a “closed” investigation. They want you to believe there’s nothing more to discover.

But we’re not fooled.

We know the governor has financial documents he’s worked hard to keep hidden for the past three years.

We know current and former ethics commission employees have accused Gov. Deal’s hand-picked ethics chief of ordering documents removed from the governor’s ethics file while an ethics probe was ongoing.

Background:

The FBI and federal grand juries have far more important things to do than worry about disagreements among office employees.

No, the FBI and federal grand juries investigate criminal activity. Period.

It’s insulting for the governor to claim that an investigation sparked by his own campaign mistakes has nothing to do with him.

Georgians simply don’t believe Gov. Deal’s lies any more.

If there is nothing to hide, Gov. Deal could have shared these documents months ago.

Or, he could share the documents today.

Instead of fighting every single attempt at an independent investigation, Gov. Deal could simply come clean.

Take Action.

Call Gov. Deal’s office.

Tell him to come clean today.

Sincerely,
Bryan Long
Executive Director
Better Georgia

P.S. Calling will make a difference. No matter how Gov. Deal responds, we will be able to say he knows exactly what voters want. We’ve provided a script and a feedback form. Call now.

When a blind trust isn’t blind, and millions are owed in state taxes

Once again Better Georgia has done the homework on icky ethics and leadership in our state’s government. Using reporting from the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Gainesville Times, and a nifty infographic that timelines Governor Nathan Deal’s troubled finances with a salvage company he co-owned with Ken Cronan, now we know that a blind trust isn’t always blind. And millions in state taxes aren’t always paid by the Texas companies who owe them.

Deal had a $300,000 per year sweetheart contract with the state for storing junked cars. Now that salvage company, one that was placed in a blind trust, has been sold to Copart, a Texas based company which owes the state of Georgia almost $74M in taxes and penalities.

And that blind trust? The AJC reports that the trust got Governor Deal to sign off on the purchase contract, one which allows both Deal and his partner to own the property and collect $120,000 each per year to lease the land to Copart.

And Copart? It has filed an appeal with the state Department of Revenue on the taxes it owes.

Now that Governor Deal has a little change in his pocket, maybe he can bring some pressure to bear on companies who owe our state a hefty amount of taxes and penalties. After all, the taxes are owed to the people of this state, the same ones who bankroll Governor Deal’s paycheck and the Governor’s Mansion where Deal now lives.

Better Georgia: 2014 election isn’t a “done Deal” for Governor

Better-Georgia-Logo
Don Weigel

Most of the political talk for the last few weeks has centered on the US Senate seat now open in 2014 – and for good reason. Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ retirement is an important moment in Georgia politics.

But let’s not lose sight of another vulnerable seat, which could be, were the right stars to align, a fight just as important as the open Senate seat: Governor.

That’s right, Governor Deal shouldn’t be sitting as comfortably as Georgia’s politcos and mainstream media would want you to believe.

Hear me out.

Better Georgia recently conducted our fifth statewide issues poll in a little over a year. There’s a lot of really interesting data in the toplines and I encourage everyone to download them read them for themselves.

Download here at: BetterGeorgia.com/2013Q1

But here’s what we know about Deal’s re-election chances:

Gov. Deal’s approval rating has slumped to 46 percent and only 32 percent of registered voters believe that Georgia is headed in the right direction, compared with a majority, 52 percent, believing our state is headed down the wrong track.

When asked to think ahead to the next general election for Governor indealn 2014 only 29 percent would vote to re-elect Nathan Deal while 41 would prefer “someone else”.

While many of these folks are Republican who will vote for Gov. Deal if he is the nominee they would still prefer someone else.

With 42 percent of Republican primary voters undecided and 35 percent wanting someone more conservative that leaves only a quarter of Republicans excited to support Gov. Deal. You can imagine an ambitious, prominent Republican picking this one-to-one primary over the crowded field for US Senate.

But here’s the great news.

The Governor has much more immediate problems than next year’s Republican Primary.  His politically toxic appointment of disgraced former senator Chip Rogers has dogged the news since mid-December and (not surprisingly) voters are not happy with the Governor.

A whopping 62 percent of voters find Gov. Deal’s appointment of Chip Rogers to be a convincing reason to vote against him.

In more than a full year of testing criticisms against Gov. Deal no single issue has stirred as much anger as this political appointment.  Even amongst voters who are certain to vote in the GOP primary 49 percent responded that it was a convincing reason to vote against the Governor.

So while everyone needs to go to FireChipRogers.com because we’re 4,000 strong and growing, I also kind of hope Gov. Deal keeps fighting the inevitable departure of Chip Rogers as long as possible.

Because every day between today and that impending day we’re connecting with more and more voters across Georgia who have had enough of this Governor and conservative supermajority failing to meet our states biggest challenges while using our tax dollars to solve the Governor’s political problems.

Sign and spread this important petition, please.  Despite their best efforts they cannot ignore us.

The Governor’s “inevitable re-election” is far from a Done Deal.

Don Weigel is the Political Director for Better Georgia, the state’s fastest growing progressive advocacy organization.  He previously worked for the Georgia House Democratic Caucus for three years.  www.bettergeorgia.com

 

Senator Bill Heath tells constituents they are “annoying” him

The capacity for Georgia’s elected leaders to dig the Chip Rogers/Gov Deal hole deeper keeps growing. After 3,200 Georgians signed a petition calling for Rogers to be fired from his new $150K state taxpayer-funded job at Georgia Public Broadcast (GPB), Senator Bill Heath of the 31st Senate District responded by sending out his own email telling constituents they are “annoying” him and other legislators.

That’s not all.

Senator Heath thinks being engaged with elected officials by signing a petition is a “childish tactic.”

The senator, who sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee, is now just as duplicitous as Nathan Deal in Rogers’ appointment. As Better Georgia points out, Heath sits on a heath1powerful  committee that could stop Deal and GPB in their tracks by voting against Deal’s proposed budget.

Instead of putting the brakes on spending tax dollars to get disgraced legislators out of the Georgia Republican Party’s way, Heath said the petition signers (i.e. taxpaying constituents)  have been “conned.”

The only con job I can see is the one Governor Deal has tried to pull on Georgia voters. Now Senator Heath is helping by saying taxpayers are “annoying.”

Senator Heath and the 27 other Appropriations Committee Members, led by District 4’s Jack Hill, can put a stop to whatever you want to call it by voting No on Deal’s budget, and then following up with a careful examination of proposed spending.

I just sent Bill Heath a “special for him” email at billheath@billheath.net. I asked for a personal response since mine wasn’t one of thousands sent to him via a petition. His office number is 404.656.3943 if you want to call him. I was politely greeted by his staffer when I called to confirm the address.

I’ve asked my representatives under the Gold Dome, Representative Mack Jackson and freshman Senator David Lucas, for their thoughts on Rogers hiring and salary. I have no track record with Lucas but during previous General Assembly sessions Jackson has carved time out to respond to me by phone and email. I look forward to their thoughts on taxpayer dollars being used by the Governor to micro-manage personnel decisions at a state department.

 

Gov Deal and Chip Rogers know how to put the public back in public broadcasting

Governor Nathan Deal and former state Senator Chip Chip Rogers and Will "The Winner" Rogers Rogers, aka Will “The Winner” Rogers, sure know how to put the public in public broadcasting.

Yesterday Governor Deal’s staff spent the day telling reporters that the Governor didn’t hire Rogers and appoint him to work at Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) as an Executive Producer.

The denials aren’t very convincing, because another public radio station, Atlanta’s
WABE, has an interview with Rogers spelling out exactly how Deal “reached out” to him for this job. Now Better Georgia is calling Governor Deal a liar.

But that isn’t all.

On January 31 GPB will have  a real job vacancy to fill, and it includes producing Lawmakers. a daily news report on the Georgia General Assembly, where Rogers already knows everyone!

While Deal was denying his December appointment of Roger’s, GPB Senior Producer Ashlie Wilson Pendley was submitting her resignation effective at the end of this month, and she spelled out exactly why she is leaving her job as the Senior Producer of GPB’s Lawmakers.

Wilson Pendley describes Rogers’ salary as “unconscienable” She also wrote, “This was the wrong decision for GPB. It has the appearance of the political manipulation of the public airwaves. This stinks of cronyism. I believe that this decision was in fact made at the highest political levels and forced upon this organization. In the interest of my own personal integrity, I find I must leave.” (Her letter is included in Creative Loafing’s coverage.)

GPB just can’t get a break from all the Deal/Rogers fallout. Today the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that GPB donors are cancelling their donations to the public radio station. The AJC also reports that in response to a donor’s cancellation, GPB Vice-President Yvette Cook emailed a donor and said that Roger’s salary is funded by taxpayer dollars (as if that makes it any better in the end) .

Cook’s email isn’t a confidence builder for Roger’s ability to be an Executive Producer. The AJC reports that Cook wrote Rogers “may or may not be the best spokesperson” for the programming that has been created just for him.

So Deal hired Rogers, gave him a salary almost nine times higher than what Rogers got as a state senator, and now the station where he works says Rogers may not be the best spokesperson for what he is supposed to produce? Wow.

I bet Deal and Rogers are glad this is a short work week. We aren’t even through three full days and it has already been a doozy.