Author: Nathan

IT Geek. 14th District GOP Chairman. American. Georgian. Republican.

Of Course, You Know This Means War!

You invade Fort Oglethorpe, we'll invade Chattanooga.
You invade Fort Oglethorpe, we’ll invade Chattanooga.  Tit-for-tat, right?

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam must feel awfully powerful being Chairman of the Republican Governors Association.  The Chattanooga Times-Free Press has an article about Governor Haslam’s seemingly quiet invasion of his fellow Republican Governor Nathan Deal’s state of Georgia:

On a listing of Tennessee historic sites, an icon located just below Chattanooga describes the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park’s headquarters as “Fort Oglethorpe, Tenn.

Maybe the move to annex Fort Oglethorpe represents a tit-for-tat effort on Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s part, an effort to punish uppity Georgia officials who have long disputed the two states’ border, especially as thirsty Atlanta and parts of North Georgia seek access to the Tennessee River.

To quote both Groucho Marx and Bugs Bunny: “Of course, you know this means war!”

It’s a “glitch” that apparently has been fixed with the State of Tennessee’s roll-out of their redesigned website.  Of course, this may only be a preemptive strike to hamper our efforts on getting our water back.  Either way, Tennessee should know that Georgia won’t go down without a fight.  Everyday, Georgia sends thousands of people to invade Tennessee…..of course, they come back home to Georgia only to return the following day, but it could be the next #Occupy movement.  Or something.  After all, Chattanooga, Georgia does have a nice ring to it.

Reporting from the Occupied Territory, over and out.

Magna Carta Signed 800 Years Ago Today

In a field in Runnymede on June 15, 1215, King John of England placed his seal upon a document drafted by the Archbishop of Canterbury to bring about peace between the King and rebelling barons.  The document promised protection of church rights, protections against illegal imprisonment of the barons, access to swift justice, and respect to rights and property.

A John Sims of King John assenting to the Magna Carta. Courtesy of the UK Parliament
A portrait by John Sims of King John assenting to the Magna Carta. Courtesy of the UK Parliament

Now, of course, the Magna Carta, as we now know it, was brokered between the King and nobles and didn’t pertain to common men, but as our National Archives points out, there are a couple of enduring principles of liberty that resonate with us today…that apply to all men and women:

“No freeman shall be taken, imprisoned, disseised, outlawed, banished, or in any way destroyed, nor will We proceed against or prosecute him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.”

“To no one will We sell, to no one will We deny or delay, right or justice.”

Neither the King nor the barons held up their respective sides to the agreement, and Pope Innocent III later annulled.  Although the original charter failed, it was reissued several times after the death of King John and later gave inspiration to a few good men in the late 18th century.

Senator Jeff Mullis’ Contact With Judge Leads To Recusal And Controversy

The Chattanooga Times Free Press has an article out about how Senate Rules Chairman Jeff Mullis has found himself cited as the reason Judge Brian House recused himself from a trial concerning former Fort Oglethorpe Building Inspector Mark Lindsay.

Of course, what they don’t make clear is that Mr. Lindsay was charged in 2010 and had yet to be tried in 2013.  He told Senator Mullis about his concern of why it had been three years at that point but he had not been tried, so the Senator asked Judge House if he could ask him about the case.  The Judge said yes, so he asked him about why his friend hadn’t been tried.  Jim Galloway over at the AJC has Senator Mullis’ side of the story:

“I was asked by a friend of mine who was concerned that he hadn’t had a trial in three years and didn’t know why. When I ran into the judge, I asked him if I could talk about the case,” the senator said.

Mullis said Superior Court Judge Brian House told him to proceed. The senator said he told the judge that he felt his friend was being “railroaded” – and that prosecutors were using delaying tactics to pressure Lindsay into a guilty plea.

“I never asked [the judge]” for anything,” Mullis said. “I have a right as a citizen to speak my mind.”

Judge House was probably acting above board, and I believe Senator Mullis was asking why his friend had yet gone to trial…not for a favorable ruling.  You know, that whole “right to a speedy trial” thing.  Perhaps, instead of lazy, one-sided reporting, the author of the article in the Chattanooga newspaper needs to try a bit harder to find out the facts of the case or even why the case kept on being delayed from going to trial.

As Senator Mullis told the AJC: “No good deed ever goes unpunished.”

Google Announces $300 Million Expansion In Georgia

Earlier this week, Google brokeGoogle DC Groundbreaking ground on a $300 million expansion of their data center in Douglas County.  The expansion will create 25 new jobs and will help with the increase in demand for Google services.  The new data center should be online by the end of 2016.

Governor Nathan Deal was on hand for the ground breaking:

“Google continues to play a significant role in making Georgia the No. 1 place in the nation in which to do business. We are pleased that one of the world’s premier technology companies continues to make strategic investments in our state, whether it is this data center expansion, providing jobs, enhancing our technology infrastructure with Google Fiber, or by providing educational programs and technology resources for nonprofits. We are proud that Google is growing in Georgia.”

The expansion is a boon to Georgia since Google recently announced plans to provide access to nine metro-area municipalities.  The data center is one of thirteen Google data centers in the world.  In an age where data and the reach of the Internet continues to grow at a rapid rate, this expansion is certainly needed.  Google’s Data Center Operations Manager Jason Wellman looks towards growth for Google:

“Data centers are the engines of the Internet, and as the Internet grows, our data centers are growing too. Douglas County and the state of Georgia have been excellent partners, enabling us to grow our presence in the state. This expansion will allow us to continue to provide fast and reliable service to millions of people around the clock.”

Of course, Douglas County is a huge benefactor with having such a large global company expanding in their backyard.  Douglas County Commission Chairman Tom Worthan talks about growth from a rural community to being connected to the world in such a big way:

“Much like Google, Douglas County continues to rapidly grow —evolving from a rural area to the economic hub of west Georgia. The expansion of Google’s data center demonstrates our commitment to growth and innovation. We are excited that the Google team has chosen to continue to invest in our community by expanding its home here with us.”

Georgia continues to show its potential at being a technology powerhouse.  Alpharetta, for example, is home to a number of data centers and Suwanee lays claim to one of two data centers used by AMD.  It’s good news for us.

A Chattanooga To Atlanta High-Speed Rail Link Still A Golden Unicorn

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke believes a high-speed rail line linking Chattanooga and Atlanta will probably never happen according to an article in the Chattanooga Times-Free Press. It’s not because Mayor Berke is anti-train…in fact, his administration is doing a study on the feasibility of light rail trains to service Chattanooga residents. Really, it’s more of a fact that Chattanooga hasn’t heard about much progress beyond “studies are being performed”.

Since then, Chattanooga has spent $1.3 million in local funds toward the first part of a $17.1 million study. In 2011, Georgia added $1.5 million and the Georgia Department of Transportation and Atlanta each put in $250,000. Those funds were used to get a $13.8 million grant for the research. The first tier of the environmental study is finished, and the second tier is slated to begin this year.

Atlanta and the state of Georgia pushed for the rail, which could help relieve congestion around Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

But Chattanooga hasn’t heard any meaningful updates, except that the studies are ongoing.

I believe Hizzoner is being a realist and probably sees the ongoing transportation problems in Atlanta and the solutions that will primarily be metro-specific. I would guess that the high-speed rail line between the two cities, although not impossible to build, would probably not be high up on the transportation project list for the city of Atlanta or GDOT. Of course, the Mayor did say it would take a good amount of community support for high-speed rail, so it may take a mayor (or a group of mayors between Chattanooga and Atlanta) to drum up their respective communities.

Of course, would elected officials have the intestinal fortitude to explain the costs and benefits (as well as the price tag and how we would pay for it) of such a railway? Would taxpayers even be willing to consider a project worthy of such a large investment? Does this project even still have legs (if it had any at all) with Chattanooga’s mayor saying the Golden Unicorn will never be found?

Congressman Lynn Westmoreland Demands Benghazi Documents

Congressman Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA-03) took to the House floor to express his frustration towards the lack of cooperation by the State Department and the House Select Committee investigating the Benghazi attack. From a presser issued by his office:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Representative Westmoreland took to the House Floor to express his frustration with the lack of compliance by the State Department in regards to the House Select Committee on Benghazi’s investigation. Westmoreland called attention to the State Department’s stalling, as well as their failure to notify the committee of Secretary Clinton’s use of a private server that hindered the production of emails. During his Special Order, Westmoreland gave a timeline of the committee’s work, crediting the slow pace of the committee to the lack of compliance by the State Department:

“We’ve been asking simple questions. We’ve been given no answers. Here are some additional questions for the Department. Why are they refusing to produce these emails? What are they hiding? What is so damaging that they don’t want Congress or the American public to see.”

In order to move forward with the investigation, including questioning Secretary Clinton, the Select Committee needs all the information first. Unfortunately, the Select Committee has been forced to subpoena the State Department multiple times to get simple answers. Westmoreland emphasized during the Special Order that all the questions were of equal priority and it was the legal responsibility of the State Department to fulfill the subpoenas issued. The Select Committee is tasked with providing the American people with a definitive report of what happened in Benghazi, and the committee remains committed to finding the whole truth, but the State Department’s questionable and untrustworthy tactics are making it difficult for the committee to do so:

“…Here we are, two and a half months after we issued the subpoena and six months after we sent the letter, and the Department has still not produced any of these priority documents. First we moved a foot, then a yard, and now we have moved our position a mile. But the Department hasn’t budged an inch.”

The Select Committee produced an Interim Report of the committee’s findings on May 8th, 2015, nearly one year after the committee was formed, as well as outlining the outstanding requests and subpoenas the State Department has yet to complete. Below are excerpts from the Interim Report highlighting the work the committee has done thus far:

  • “More than 20,000 pages of emails and documents never before released to Congress have been produced by the State Department.”
  • “The Committee has interviewed State Department and CIA personnel, including survivors of the Benghazi terrorist attacks who had never been interviewed by previous committees, as well as others who have been able to provide indispensable firsthand details of the U.S. presence in Benghazi, Libya.”
  • “The Committee has also held over two dozen classified and unclassified briefings with the Administration and Executive Branch agencies that have information relevant to the investigation.”
  • “These negotiations resulted in the State Department producing 15,000 pages of new documents to the Committee. These productions were the first time: (1) the State Department produced any email to or from former Secretary Clinton; and (2) the Committee became aware the former Secretary had used a private e-mail account to conduct official State Department business.”

“The State Department’s claim that they cannot give the American people answers until January 2016 is completely unacceptable,” stated Westmoreland. “This investigation has been riddled with half-truths and secrets. The State Department owes it to the families of those killed and the American people to give us the truth, and it’s growing more and more concerning each day about how difficult it is to get it. This committee will not take ‘no’ for an answer, and we will keep up the fight for the whole story.”

You can watch a video of his floor speech as well.

Deconstructing the #GAGOP Convention

The Georgia Republican State Convention gaveled to an end Saturday afternoon with all its business completed (thank goodness). There were some tense moments during voting, but all in all, it was an enjoyable convention. I’ll take some time to share some of my observations were of what happened on the convention floor.

  • There was concern over the secret ballot vs. stand, rise, and be counted method of voting. Personally, I don’t care to show who I support. We represent Republicans from our respective counties, so I believe we should be public. I know there are those who disagree, and that’s fine. You can look at it this way, a number of people supporting a secret ballot and concerned about intimidation and retribution were wearing lapel stickers of officer candidates. I’d say around 60 to 70% of convention goers had lapel stickers on, so an overwhelming majority must not have been all that concerned about ramifications of their support.
  • There was a lot of talk of “fear of retribution” if one candidate won over another. I don’t believe I was ever “intimidated” or anything while i was Chairman in Walker County, and I don’t believe (since I’m on the state executive committee) I would have been if Alex had won for supporting John over him. We have to remember we’re on the same team working toward a similar goal: electing Republicans.
  • The AJC made a seemingly big ordeal to point out that one of our new state officers is gay. I talked to a few other fellow delegates and we had the same thought: big deal. I believe that’s a thought that is becoming more prominent among Republicans. What you do behind closed doors is your business. I don’t believe race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or whatever will be or should be a deciding factor on whether someone can serve the public as an elected official or a party official.
  • On RFRA, there were a few Republicans that didn’t agree with passing a resolution in supporting it without an anti-discrimination clause in it. Well, if you think about it, if there is a business owner who wants to decrease his customer base by not serving people who are gay, a different religion, or whatever, then free market forces will probably ensure that he or she isn’t in business for very long. Just a thought though.
  • It disturbs me that there are delegates who are willing to publicly accuse us of using “Stalin-like” tactics, being like the Mafia, and other ridiculous charges. I believe Randy Evans did a fantastic job of granting ample time of people being heard while maintaining order to let those opinions and questions be heard. If we were being totalitarian as some people I know accuse us of being, then the vote would have been a lot closer secret ballot or not. These charges are baseless, but I’m sure they will continue to try to shout them in order for their faction to be relevant (in their own mind…or something).
  • I voted for the minority report from the credentials committee to not seat Newton County. I don’t know the specifics, but it seems to me that precincts who elect delegates to the county convention should not be put to a litmus test by the existing county committee. I believe it goes against the convention call of the Georgia Republican Party, and, in my opinion, I believe the Newton County GOP rules should be changed to allow folks who agree with our Republican Party principles to freely participate as delegates in county conventions without regard to service.

I know there were some friends who didn’t support the same people that I did, and that’s ok. I still like them and call them friends. Sometimes our emotions run high, and I know they were high yesterday as we conducted business on the floor. For those who didn’t win, rest for a bit, keep your chin up, and let’s work to continue to lay the groundwork to elect Republicans next year and for years to come.

House Votes For Resolution That Would Protect Farmers From EPA Overreach

Congressman Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA-03) voted in favor of HR 1732 in response to the EPA’s new proposed rule that would allow them to regulate man-made ponds, ditches, and other water areas usurping local and state environmental regulations. The regulations could potentially affect farmers and the agriculture industry. The resolution would require both the EPA and Army Corp of Engineers to withdraw the new regulation and propose new rules that would consider both local and state regulatory interests. From a presser released from Congressman Westmoreland’s office:

Last night, Congressman Lynn Westmoreland voted in support of H.R. 1732, the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act, to protect Georgia farmers from proposed regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). H.R. 1732 upholds the integrity of the federal-state partnership to regulate our nation’s waters by preserving existing rights and responsibilities with respect to “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act.

“The EPA is constantly trying to bypass state and local governments, when they are the ones that know the land and water sources the best,” stated Westmoreland. “I’ve spoken to farmers across the Third District and the state of Georgia, and this overreach onto their property is a huge concern to them. We’ve seen the EPA regulating outside its authority time and time again, and we will continue to fight to put an end to it.”

Under the EPA’s proposed rule, the Clean Water Act could regulate waters in ditches, man-made ponds, floodplains, streams, and seasonally-wet areas – burdening and even threatening jobs in the agricultural industry. The Regulatory Integrity Protection Act gives the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers 30 days to withdraw the current proposed rule and requires them to develop a new proposed rule that must take into consideration local and state concerns.

“The Regulatory Integrity Protection Act requires the federal government to work with state and local communities to find a solution that best fits their needs. By restoring trust, transparency, and integrity to the decision making process, we can find a solution that protects both our water and our jobs, and isn’t just in the interest of Washington bureaucrats – but for the farmers and hard-working Americans who provide for our nation.”

Who I Am Supporting To Lead The Georgia Republican Party

It’s been a fun and interesting journey in my past eleven years of active involvement with Republican politics. I’ve met a lot of people, made new friends, and, as we see in life, parted ways with those I thought were friends. I’ve climbed up through the leadership ranks through College Republicans, Young Republicans, through my own county Party, and now currently hold the position of Chairman of the 14th Congressional District Republican Party of Georgia. Who leads the Party will directly affect me since I, as a district chairman, will serve on the state executive committee. That means, I’ll be working and discussing affecting Republicans in the 14th Congressional District with the officers of our state party.

Earlier, I wrote why I’m supporting John Padgett for GAGOP Chairman, but I wanted to share why I will be personally supporting and voting for these fine people to lead our Party for the next two years:
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Senator Ted Cruz To Address Georgia Republicans

Senator Ted Cruz will make the second official candidate seeking the Republican nomination for president who will be addressing Georgia Republicans at our convention in Athens next weekend. So, really, three if you count Governor Chris Christie, but he hasn’t announced….yet. It makes Friday a busy day for convention goers with Governor Christie speaking at a breakfast in the morning, Senator Marco Rubio speaking in the afternoon, and now Senator Cruz headlining the Victory Dinner that evening at 7p.

Tickets are $65 for the dinner and are still available through the Georgia Republican Party’s website.

On Leadership Of The GAGOP, I Choose Proof Over Talk

This time last year, pundits in Georgia and nationwide were authoring pieces on why the Georgia Republican Party would face defeat in November. They said that both former State Senator Jason Carter and Michelle Nunn would take the governor’s mansion and/or the open US Senate seat being vacated by Senator Saxby Chambliss. Georgia was turning purple because of changing demographics that Georgia Republicans couldn’t appeal to. The writing was on the wall, and I believe Republicans across the state were cautiously optimistic about winning, but we were concerned…and we weren’t going down without a fight at least.

We expected a run-off in December and, God-forbid, in January had the Libertarian candidate siphoned off enough votes to propel either race into a run-off. A solid win in November was the seemingly unattainable prize, but we got it and, thankfully, we didn’t have to hear attack ads over both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. We won, and we even got another prize: a Republican in the elusive GA-12 district. Representative John Barrow seemed unbeatable even though the district was drawn to the GOP’s advantage.

I believe a lot of credit for these big wins in November 2014 goes to the leadership team of the Georgia Republican Party. The GAGOP did a lot to encourage outreach and voter mobilization this past election cycle. The Minority Outreach arm was created when John Padgett was elected and even continues although the Republican National Committee decided to halt its Minority Outreach program this year. That, on top of creating field offices (Victory Centers) and identifying committed folks in inactive counties in the 12th congressional district, went a long way in mobilizing the vote for our Republican ticket.

The GAGOP’s executive committee also took a risk by buying late-game ad time and other media to reach out to voters. It looks like it worked since we won. It was a gamble, but it did pay off. Now the GAGOP’s treasury is light, but we don’t have a negative balance (from my understanding, at least). It’s time to raise funds and build up our treasury, and I believe 2015 is a prime opportunity to do that since Georgia looks to have a bigger role to play in presidential politics.

Our editor-emeritus, Erick Erickson, endorsed Alex Johnson over John Padgett for Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party last week. Erick’s endorsement focused more on policy differences between him and elected Republicans in state government versus what leadership in the Republican Party Alex brings to the table. I, as a delegate, would be more inclined to listen to an endorsement that outlined what Alex has done to advance the Party and what he would do better as chairman than John. Erick has every right to express his opinion on who should lead our Party to delegates who actually elect the leadership. That being said, he also has a combined 90 kilowatt flamethrower plus a large online following that most Republican non-delegates (or delegates for that matter) do not have.

Personally, I believe that John Padgett has shown he can do the job very effectively and will be voting for him in Athens on the 16th. Had we lost either the governor’s mansion or the open US Senate seat, then we should be talking on if he should stay on for a second term. We didn’t, and I believe he should stay on for a second term. Some of my Republican friends will probably disagree with me, and that’s fine. I’m just expressing my opinion as a delegate to the state convention.

I promise to work with the chairman and the Party as a whole to elect Republicans in 2016. I hope those supporting either John or Alex will commit to do the same.

Congressman Doug Collins On The 9th District “Great Lakes”

Congressman Doug Collins viewing plans for Lake Lanier’s Olympic Venue

Congressman Doug Collins (R-GA-09) sent out a newsletter discussing Lake Lanier and its economic impact to both Hall County and Georgia’s ninth district. He cites that Lake Lanier draws over 8 million people and adds $300 million to the Hall County economy. Congressman Collins goes on to talk about the creation of the Army Corp of Engineers caucus in Congress:

Not only do we have a piece of Georgia’s Olympic history, where rowing teams from around the world practice and compete, Northeast Georgia is also home to the country’s second largest man-made lake east of the Mississippi River — Lake Hartwell. I was recently there too, learning more about the vibrant lake economy that the Ninth District shares with neighboring South Carolina.

Across our district, local governments work with the Army Corps of Engineers, which helped to create these valuable resources, to preserve and improve them. In Congress, I launched the Army Corps of Engineers Caucus to increase the agency’s responsiveness and efficiency, so that it may better serve new arrivals, who visit Northeast Georgia for its natural beauty and stay for its residents’ warmth and hospitality.

I’m glad to see that Congressman Collins is working to better relations and increase communications of needs between constituents and government agencies, like the Army Corp of Engineers. A lot of times we get caught up in the red meat issues and enjoy casting aspersions towards government agencies, but sometimes it’s good to see our elected representatives work to enhance relationships for better responsiveness from those government agencies.

Sometimes good governance is working together on the seemingly mundane (i.e., why does someone in the 14th district care about lakes in the 9th district?) issues to the average voter to build better relationships….and then working to solve the tougher challenges that both our state and nation faces.

Georgia Veterans Affairs Commissioner Pete Wheeler Passes Away

We have learned that Georgia Veterans Affairs Commissioner Pete Wheeler has passed away at age 92 from a post on Governor Nathan Deal’s Facebook page. Commissioner Wheeler, a veteran of World War II, served as commissioner since 1954 and served under Governors Herman Talmadge through Nathan Deal according to the AJC. Flags will be flown at half-staff on Monday to honor Georgia’s longest-serving agency head. US Senator Johnny Isakson’s office has released this statement on the Commissioner’s passing:

“Commissioner Pete Wheeler dedicated a lifetime of service to our state and nation and his fellow veterans. He made tremendous strides in modernizing and advancing services to benefit Georgia’s veterans and their families. He will be deeply missed by all Georgians and the millions of veterans across the country who have benefitted from his immeasurable contribution and courageous leadership.”

Please keep the Commissioner’s family in your thoughts and prayers.

Next Stop: GAGOP District Conventions

This weekend, Republicans who were elected by their home counties will gather to meet with fellow Republicans in their respective congressional district to elect leadership and any other business that is “necessary and proper”.

I’m running for chairman of the 14th District Republican Party of Georgia, so if you’re a delegate or alternate, I’d appreciate your vote. Feel free to post what you believe will happen at the 14 district Republican conventions across Georgia this weekend.

::OPEN THREAD::

HB 1 Signed Into Law: Cannabis Oil Now Legal For Medical Purposes In Georgia

Governor Nathan Deal signed HB 1, Haleigh’s Hope Act, into law this morning. The law is effective immediately. The legislative hurdle has been cleared, so now comes the challenge of setting up the framework for patients and doctors to apply for a permit to use the now-legal cannabis oil for treating eight disorders stipulated in the law. From the AJC:

It allows both children and adults as being eligible for treatment and requires that the oil contain no more than 5 percent THC, the high-inducing chemical associated with recreational marijuana use. It also legalizes clinical trials sought by some senators to further study how the drug works.

The state must now build a system from the ground up that allows patients and their doctors to apply for a permit to legally use the drug. And officials must navigate prickly legal questions in allowing the use of a federally banned drug, even as some families indicate they are more than willing to take that risk.

Georgia is staking out uncharted territory with the federal ban on cannabis still in effect. I understand that there are some medical professionals who express concerns over the long-term effects of cannabis oil in children. Hopefully, clinical trials will shed some light on the side effects of the oil now that the law is in-force and, if needed, adjustments to the treatment to avoid adverse effects of the treatment.