The Bizarre World of Sue Burmeister, Glenn Richardson and Cecil Staton

On Thursday, the Washington Post reported that four of the five members of the U.S. Department of Justice’s team of professional, career staff recommended that the U.S. Attorney General use his authority under the Voting Rights Act to block the implementation of Georgia’s new voter identification law. The career professionals who reviewed the Georgia statute were overruled by a Bush Administration political appointee. On Friday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on information found in the review team’s memorandum that reflected disturbing assertions made to the Justice Department by Republican Rep. Sue Burmeister, the bill’s primary sponsor. Needless to say, Rep. Burmeister’s statements showed an amazing level of ignorance, and were an embarrassment for her, the Republican Party, the General Assembly and the State of Georgia.

The passage of this bill, the obvious politicization of the Bush Justice Department’s Voting Rights section, and the statements by Rep. Burmeister are all sad, and are all a part of a bigger problem with Republican leadership. Governor Perdue and Republican legislative leaders have brought cynical dishonesty to the Gold Dome, and they rely on half truths or outright lies to push an agenda that hurts Georgia’s working families. The latest example of this dishonest leadership style is the bizarre joint statement issued on Friday by Rep. Burmeister and House Speaker Glenn Richardson. The two spent several paragraphs asserting that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was lying in its Friday article, even though Rep. Burmeister a day earlier had confirmed to the newspaper the accuracy of her statements as reflected in the Justice Department memorandum.

The memorandum contains several other clear examples of the basic dishonesty of the Republicans who pushed the bill. It is worth noting here that the memorandum states on Page 6 that Republican Sen. Cecil Staton, who sponsored the Senate version of the bill, made arguments to the Justice Department similar to Rep. Burmeister’s. Apparently Rep. Burmeister told the Justice Department team that Governor Perdue had passed a bill that mandates a location providing photo identification in every county, and that individuals can obtain the required identification in Kroger stores. As the Justice Department team notes in the memorandum, both assertions are false. The memorandum also outlines the dubious nature of the data provided by the Perdue Administration about the number of Georgians with photo identification, and implies that the Justice Department team may have been deliberately misled.

The Republicans to this day have not produced a single example of voter fraud anywhere in Georgia that their restrictive identification requirements would have prevented. Now we see that they have resorted to dishonest and ignorant statements to justify the bill to the Justice Department.

The behavior of the Republican leadership on this bill is part of a troubling pattern. Governor Perdue is the only Governor in state history to be found guilty of violating the state’s ethics law, which happened after he got caught lying about his attempt to amend state ethics law to get himself off the hook. He’s been dishonest multiple times with Georgians and the Legislature about the budget, including the need for a wasteful special legislative session, his use of budget gimmicks that threaten the state’s bond rating, and his false alarm about the need to slash the HOPE Scholarship. He has been trying to cover up his gutting of state support for our children’s schools with claims that he is forced to do so, while he still finds money for pork barrel projects and special interest tax breaks. When pushing a repeal of Georgia’s law protecting consumers from predatory lenders, the Governor and Senate leaders falsely claimed to have a letter from Freddie Mac saying that it would stop backing loans in Georgia if consumer protections were not rolled back. The list goes on and on.

The pattern of obvious dishonesty and the attempts to play the people of Georgia for fools would almost be humorous if it didn’t involve real harm to so many people in our state. Come a year from now, when the voters of Georgia get their say, my guess is that the game will be up for Governor Perdue and the Republican legislative leadership.

22 comments

  1. housecreek says:

    Dear Bobby,

    I think the best things the Republicans have going for them is you. You are the best my friend!

  2. JSMillican says:

    Opinion by State Senator Cecil Staton
    August 4, 2005

    Photo Identification Requirement Means Voting Integrity for Georgia

    During the 2005 legislative session, I proudly authored and spearheaded through the legislature the voter identification bill that has been the subject of considerable debate and much controversy. In the last two weeks, the Macon Telegraph has editorialized against the bill and the Reverend Jesse Jackson came to Macon to decry the bill as an attempt to disenfranchise poor, elderly, and African-American voters.

    In my opinion, those who criticize the bill ought to read it first. But that almost makes too much sense. It is far easier to use the bill for political posturing. The facts would simply get in the way of that goal. In fact, this bill simply says, when you come to vote in Georgia, be prepared to identify yourself. In the day we live in, that minor inconvenience is a small price to pay for voting integrity, or so I believe.

    The bill, which began as SB 86 and ended up as section 59 of HB 244, had its origins with my concern for the integrity of Georgia’s elections. Surely we remember the controversies surrounding the last two national election cycles in our country. Concern for the integrity of our elections and the importance of the concept of “one man, one vote,

  3. jackson says:

    Erick – I realize that you are trying to create some diversity on here, but if all this guy is going to do is post extended press releases from the Democratic party, what is the point? I think discussion is good, I think differing opinions are good, but what value does he provide when all he is doing is regurgitating Democratic party talking points. It’s a waste of space.

  4. Eddie T says:

    Ah–when Silence or Bull Moose offer Republican Party talking points, everything is wonderful. But someone offers an opinion different than your own, and it’s a waste of space?

    Come on, sometimes this is too easy….

  5. emily says:

    At least Mr. Kahn actually takes the effort to pen a post, versus just posting an old article from the Macon Telegrah with…republican talking points. Geez, talk about your waste of space. Thanks for the brilliant insight, JS.

  6. JSMillican says:

    Emily, you’re welcome. I suppose there’s not really much point in trying to express our consternation at the manner in which this entire situation has transpired.

    Unlike 99% of the people on this blog, in the media, or even on the House side of the General Assembly, I have been integrally involved in this process since the inception of the idea. Actually, perhaps I should rephrase that. Contrary to what the media would have you (or the voting electorate at large) believe, this is not the true inception of requiring ID to vote, as a concept. That was introduced in the [Democratically controlled] Georgia General Assembly back in 1997, prior to which, I believe, Georgia had no requirement for identification.

    Having said that, I can assure you, on behalf of Senator Staton, that this legislation, or these mandates, were not at all racially motivated in the least bit. As you can see from the memos I’ve posted, nothing in our communications, either in the legislative process or in the later process of DOJ pre-clearance, indicates anything remotely to the contrary. You’re more than welcome to check with the DOJ or the General Assembly to verify this.

    I won’t repeat the talking points. If someone wishes me to, I am more than happy to re-iterate our stance and rational behind the policy of this legislation. I can, however, conclusively assure you that the motivation behind this legislation in no way mirrors the sentiments of Representative Burmiester as reported by the Department of Justice, sentiments that were, should they be accurately attributed, poorly motivated, badly formulated, and expressed even more poorly. However, any sort of sound bytes from a legislator who was not the true inceptor of this concept do not qualify as evidence to discredit or nullify the concept of tightening up voter ID requirements, particularly if they have been removed from their proper context.

    If the voters of Georgia, or her colleagues in the Georgia General Assembly decide to hold Rep. Burmiester accountable for her comments, that is certainly within their purview, actions which I do not strongly believe would be opposed by many true Republicans. And if, as Rep. Burmiester contends, her sentiments are not truly impure, her record and reputation will certainly attest to that fact.

    All said facts aside, due consideration should be given to Senator Staton’s statements considering re – examination of these mandates, an effort to bridge the rift that has been politically widened between the GOP and minority and elderly voters of Georgia. And should your mindset keep you from such objectivity, it may well be that you’re as close minded as you accuse us of being.

  7. Melb says:

    Housecreek,
    If you can’t see the political implications of Burmeister’s comments, then you are BLIND and attacking BK cannot hide the severity of the real problem at hand.

  8. Bull Moose says:

    Wow — I’m so far off the reservation on Republican Talking Points its not even funny…

    I think that Burmeister’s comments were wrong and worthy of other Republican members calling for her to apologize and even to the level of, if I were in office, I’d call for her resignation.

    Real Republicans would never wrap the integrity of the voting process in negative and hurtful racial rhetoric. To tolerate that kind of dialogue is inexcusable in my book.

  9. Eddie T says:

    Then my apologies to you, Bull Moose–the haze of being so close to a Thanksgiving break from work must have made me confuse you with someone else 😉

  10. UGA Wins 2005 says:

    Ole Bobby still cant get over the fact that he was the Chief of Staff to the first Democrat Governor ever to lose to a Republican. Life’s a bi**h Bobby. Maybe one day you too can sign books at Walmart like your hero, Jimah Carter does.

    Hang in there Sen Staton, you have done a great job and will continue to do so.

  11. rickday says:

    Reviewing the thread: Bull Moose offers a real opinion (yay). Almost all others trash the other bloggers rather than address the issue.

    Voter ID is a stupid issue; a waste of perfectly good ink. I have worked polls; anyone here worked a poll? For the last two major elections I was the ‘voting machine technical specialist’ (hah!). It is ridiculous the amount of redundancy in the system, as it is. How about we fix, um, poverty or take out a few hundred high level drug traffickers instead? And about that motorcycle helmet repeal….

    Observation: When Republicans do ‘wrong’, their response is to (after exhausting all illogic and venom) complain of Demo’s ‘gloating’. What I, as an indie want to hear (and put my money behind), is some REFRESHING honesty/humility (per Bull Moose) and some REAL SOLUTIONS, dangit!

  12. Romegaguy says:

    I am going to call PETA and other Animal Rights Groups if Bobby keeps beating that dead horse of ” the only Governor in state history to be found guilty of violating the state’s ethics law…”

  13. jackson says:

    I dont mind discussion. I think this site is great for Republicans that actually discuss other folks in their own party with transparency and honesty. Mr. Kahn just posts worthless rhetoric just to piss Republicans off. I will gaurantee he will never post anything on this site that criticizes or takes to task the members of his own party for their hypocrisy like many of us here do. That is why he is a waste as a contributor. That was my point. Not that he has a different opinion than I.

  14. This is exactly the type of common-sense legislation we should hope to (but rarely do) get from our General Assembly. It is undeniable that voter fraud occurs in this state and this bill goes a long way to combat it.

    There are certainly problems with the bill, but few bills emerge from the process flawless. To charge anyone to receive an ID, to me, is a fundamental flaw, but the idea and motives behind the legislation are very good. I am originally from a rural area that does not have a permanent site for the issuance of drivers licenses – the closest one is approximately 45 minutes away. Seniors and other without a method of transportation are inconvenienced to a certain extent by this requirement.

    That being said, the problems could be remedied by the mobile ID stations proposed by Sen. Staton and by state funding for IDs for individuals currently without one. This is a good piece of legislation that just needs a little fine tuning.

  15. Bull Moose says:

    Okay, some of you folks are missing the larger issue her in that that it DIRECTLY hurts the Republican Party of Georgia to allow Members of the State House and Senate to make overtly racist remarks without indignation.

    I feel confident that had a Democrat made similar remarks as those made by Richardson, Burmeister, and Staton, Republicans would be calling for their heads and grandstanding in the name of racial fairness…

    Ah, the hypocrisy… Don’t be emboldened my Democratic friends, I still bleed elephant blood but that doesn’t mean I checked my brain at the door…

  16. Tater Tate says:

    I know about the story of Burmeister’s comments and if true they are certainly not appropriate. But what comments of Richardson and Staton get them put into the same category? I’ve seen nothing approaching Burmeister and certainly nothing racist coming out of their mouths.

  17. Bill Simon says:

    Rumor has it that one of the “career lawyers” at the Justice Department is married to Senator Dick Durbin’s Chief of Staff…gee, you don’t think that Demmies from the Clinton era have started nesting in the Justice Department, do ya, Bobby? 🙂

  18. Tommy_a2b says:

    Note- I have not read all of this thread yet. Conservative posters instead of getting all tied in knots everytime BK posts. LEARN from your oposition. I hate to spell it out this simply but politics is war. Learn all you can from the “enemy”. The better you know someone the easier it is to “attack or defend”.

  19. Bull Moose says:

    Richardson joined with Burmeister in clarifying her comments but did not condemn them. Staton is just a puppet so, yeah, hot air on my part and wasted hot air at that… Put him back in the box he came from…

    Real electoral security through proper identification would be fine — wrapping it up in some sort of racial attack is not okay at all in my books… Again, if I were an elected member of the REPUBLICAN House or Senate, I would have called on Burmeister to apologize and at this point resign from office or at least any leadership position she may hold.

    Along with Jean Schmidt of Ohio, Sue Burmeister is now in the column of people I am ashamed to call a Republican.

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