Nathan Deal and Casey Cagle have already done their best to ensure that Georgia Democrats maintain hope for the future: They have already screwed up.
Listen up, folks: We have just four years in which to ensure that Nathan Deal, Casey Cagle, and their crooked cronies leave the Georgia capitol and go back to the rocks they climbed out from. Starting…NOW.
Even Georgia’s Senate Republicans have gotten sick of Casey Cagle’s overly friendly relationship with lobbyists. The Republican caucus in the Senate has voted to strip Cagle of pretty much any real power he might hold. He will no longer be able to appoint chairs to various committees, nor will he be able to determine the make-up of said committees. His only real power will be the ability to direct pieces of legislation to committees.
As this Galloway AJC post points out, Georgia politics (well, all politics, really) is all about the “ask”. The person who gets asked for favors is the person with the power. For the past few years, that person has been Casey Cagle. The Senators apparently got sick of no longer wielding any substantial power, and have decided to take the power back.
On the one hand, this is an extreme statement about Cagle’s relationship with lobbyists. When even your own party members are sick of you pandering to lobbyists, you have a BIG problem. Although several caucus members maintained that this move was not meant as a slight against Cagle, I find it pretty tough to believe that this was just a “routine refinement” of Senate rules — this has “personal” written all over it.
On the other hand, this is also a power play on the part of the Republican Senators. They aren’t just sick of Cagle’s crookedness — they also miss being able to be crooked themselves. This means that we have an even greater obligation to keep an eye on our state Senators for the next couple of years, because they have purposely set themselves up in positions of power.
And now for Nathan Deal.
As we’ve already mentioned in an earlier post, Nathan Deal has appointed Chris Riley — his former House chief of staff, campaign manager, and pilot — as his new chief of staff. Riley “rarely allows Deal to go anywhere without him, unless it is a family matter.” Riley was also involved in nearly every ethics scandal that plagued Deal throughout the campaign — from using his position to persuade state officials to protect his “contract” with the state to using his position to persuade local officials to rezone land and roads. The fact that Nathan Deal seems blithely unconcerned about the potential message this sends to voters — “I don’t care what you think about ethics” — is, to say the least, upsetting. This is a slap in the face to the many voters who offered Deal their grudging support — many voters who voted for Deal did so despite concerns about his ethics in the hope that the Republican governor would truly act in the best interests of their party.
Not only did Deal maintain his allegiance to his cohort, he also made several other questionable appointments. His transition team is made up of: Roger Wade (chairman of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank), Pete Robinson (a veteran lobbyist who will supposedly suspend his lobbying practices while serving — yeah, sure he will), John Watson (Purdue’s former chief of staff and founder of a major Atlanta lobbying firm), Philip Wilheit (one of Deal’s business partners), Jay Morgan (another political insider and long-time lobbyist), and Tricia Pridemore (a founder of the 912 Project, Glenn Beck’s incredibly conservative political group).
Let’s count: Of the 6 members, half are lobbyists. One is Deal’s business partner. All are highly conservative (so much for even attempting to appear non-partisan). There is only 1 woman and no minorities (because obviously there aren’t any minorities in Georgia).
Of those lobbyists, one — John Watson — is currently raising money for the legal defense of a Georgia lobbyist indicted on federal corruption charges in Alabama.
Good lord. Nathan Deal has only been Governor-elect for less than a week and he has already displayed an obvious willingness to hop into bed with special interests, support corruption, and ignore pretty much anyone who didn’t vote for him.
Someone needs to tell Nathan Deal that when you are elected for state-wide office, you are obligated to represent EVERYONE, not just the people who voted for you.
In the meantime, Nathan Deal is already on the path to becoming one of Georgia’s most despicable Governors (and in the state that elected Lester Maddox, that’s really saying something).
No Deal, Georgia.