There were some heated debates about redistricting on the floor of the House yesterday and emotions were running high. The subject was the use of the redistricting process by Republicans to redraw maps that would offer some level of Republican representation on some County Commissions. As a result, the Democrat Members of the House who represent Cobb County called a press conference to air their grievances unencumbered by House rules of Ethics and Decorum that disallow personal attacks on other members 1.
State Rep Erick Allen, who is also running to seek the Democrat nomination for Lieutenant Governor, was at a podium in front of the Atlanta Press Corps when he began naming his Republican Cobb Delegation mates. At this point, State Rep Ed Setzler heard his name being called out over a loud speaker and went to the South Steps between the Second and Third Floors of the Gold Dome to make himself available to the press if they had questions for him.
“I stood to the left edge of the press conference with my mask on listening to them trash me and others by name,” Setzler told us. “When the news media saw me standing there, they said to Erick, ‘There’s Setzler over there, why don’t you let him speak for himself?’ So Erick motioned me over and gave me the podium to speak.”
Later, when Rep. Allen posted a tweet about the interaction, he included a severely clipped video that shows him reaching around Rep Setzler to take the microphone back.
State Rep Wes Cantrell took to twitter to call out Rep Allen for posting a deceptive version of events and Rep. Allen then doubled down, as if there were not dozens of eye witnesses present and who saw him offer the microphone to Rep Setzler. Another person point blank asked if Rep Allen invited Setzler to the mic and Rep Allen responded by tweeting, “he was not invited.”
Only I have been told by multiple witnesses that Rep Setzler’s version of events is accurate and that Rep Allen invited him to speak. But that didn’t stop the media portraying this as nothing short of a hijacking by Rep Setzler, as in this example by AJC/MSNBC reporter/contributor Greg Bluestein:
For Bluestein’s part, when I asked him about it via text he responded that he was going off of Rep Allen’s description of events, pointing to Rep Allen’s use of the word, “crashing,” to justify how he framed it. “I’ve used hijacked before when Democrats crash Republican events, or when Republicans crash each others events,” He told me. “It’s not unusual.”
But maybe it should be. Having the media add the word hijacking to describe this event was neither fair nor accurate. In fact when examined in light of how events actually unfolded this characterization gives unwarranted credibility to Rep Allen’s misleading tweets.
I have asked for Rep Allen to post the video of when Rep Setzler arrives at the microphone, to which Rep Allen has not responded. However one eye witness, State Rep Will Wade, took to twitter and go on record to corroborate Rep Setzler’s versions of events.
If Rep Allen is willing to be so brazenly misleading over something like this is it any wonder that his Republican colleagues in the Cobb Delegation see no point in trying to work with him?
Foot Note: House Rule 1.3: No Member in speaking shall be disrespectful to any other member and all members shall carefully avoid references to personalities when addressing the House.