Letter from Larry O’Neal

My Friends –

I open this by noting it is an unfortunately lengthy email, but its  contents are vital because they involve my good name (which I guard  jealously) and a complicated piece of tax legislation.  Please review  this entire email so you can be fully informed in your decision for  speaker.

Since Friday, one of my opponents has attacked me in the caucus for  tax legislation I sponsored in 2005. That legislation came to involve  Gov. Perdue and was the basis of an ethics complaint filed by Bobby  Kahn and his minions.

I did not intend to respond to my opponent’s attacks, but a reporter  is now calling my supporters in the caucus trying to write another  story about this, so I must now address these falsehoods.

Perhaps the most important thing for you to know is that in addressing  these attacks, I am finally able to share information with you that  has never been shared publicly that I believe will clear my good name  once-and-for-all on this issue.

The canon of legal ethics prevents a lawyer from discussing legal work  for past or present clients.  As you know, I have done legal work for  the governor.  That has limited what I could say about the governor’s  land matter and the legislation I sponsored.

However, the governor has for the first time released me to talk about  all aspects of these matters, and the details I can share will show  the extent to which this witch hunt has harmed my reputation unfairly.

The extent of my work for the governor has been greatly exaggerated.   I currently do no legal work for him.  In addition, I will be leaving  my law firm on Friday of this week if you elect me so I can serve as a  full-time speaker, and I will not have any legal clients except to  conclude matters currently with my office.

I hope this answers any questions about the extent of my legal work  for the governor.

On the specific tax legislation involved, I will begin with a summary  of the legislation:

1.  It was technical, involving interstate land exchanges, considered  at that time unconstitutional anyway by the revenue department, which  penalized only Georgia residents.

2.  The change the law enacted had already passed in 49 states.   Georgia was the last state to pass this law for its citizens.

3.  It was retroactive, which has been made to be unusual but is common  tax law practice, particularly when the legislation will ensure  Georgians are treated the same as other states’ citizens, which is  what we were doing with this bill.

4.  It has been falsely claimed that only one taxpayer benefited from  this bill.  Hundreds of Georgians have had their taxes reduced by this  bill, a fact that you may independently confirm with the Georgia  Department of Revenue.

5.  I, personally, did not benefit financially from this bill in any way.

6.  Lastly the retroactivity complained of was done by an amendment  actually added in the Senate so one must believe the Bobby Kahn  machine that a representative can amend a bill in the Senate, which is  now and was then against every rule of the Senate and the Constitution  of the state of Georgia; hence impossible on its face or the  “immaculate amendment”.

For three years, the Democrats have harassed me and Gov. Perdue about  this tax issue.  Bobby Kahn got a Democrat activist to file an ethics  complaint against me.  They attacked Gov. Perdue with $6 million in  ads that used a particularly unflattering picture of me beamed into my  living room and those of my family and friends, and the media abetted  it.  I drew opposition in 2006 specifically because of this issue.

Even though Kahn and the Democrats failed to convince the voters of  any wrongdoing in 2006, they did not stop.  Kahn vowed to get the IRS  to audit the matter.

What you do not know is that Kahn succeeded.  An IRS audit was  conducted after the election.  Until now, I have not been able to  discuss the results or even the existence of that audit.  However,  with Gov. Perdue’s permission, I can now tell you about audit’s results.

The IRS sent a team of federal auditors to conduct a full forensic  audit of every aspect of this land issue transaction.  It was a  multi-week, full-blown, on-site examination.

The result was that the IRS made zero adjustment to the taxes involved  and exonerated me once and for all for any wrongdoing in this matter.

I don’t know what else to tell you.  At some point, even an old  politician like me is entitled to have his name cleared, especially  when the IRS has literally torn this whole matter apart and said it  was clean.

Being unable to discuss this matter until now, I have relied upon my  good name to defend me.  That was enough until this campaign, but the  climate of fear in our caucus created by the unprecedented events of  recent days has unsettled us all, and one of my opponents has played  on this climate by using this baseless charge from Bobby Kahn to try  to defeat me in a Republican leadership election.  His attacks have  succeeded in getting the blogs and newspapers to rehash this story.

Any Republican worthy of leadership would never use a Bobby Kahn  attack to go after a fellow Republican when this charge had never been  substantiated by any third party and had been rejected by the voters  overwhelmingly.

Moreover, while my opponent may not have known about the audit’s  existence, he did know my character vs. the character of Bobby Kahn.

The fact my opponent chose to persist with this attack in spite of its  source and lack of verification (and the voters’ rejection of the  argument) is regrettable.  He should certainly retract his comments.

In the end though, I am more concerned my opponent has tried to  maneuver me into a no-win situation.  He has repeated an unproven  attack while saying it didn’t matter if the attack was true because  “it has left the appearance of impropriety and I alone am the clean  candidate.”

I beg to differ in the strongest terms.  My opponent has not yet held  high-ranking leadership in the Republican Party.  He will find, should  he get there, that he too will be subject to unfair attacks by  Democrats, and that the true test of Republican leadership is to prove  you can survive false attacks and survive victorious with your good  name intact.

I have done this.

We need to make changes in the House.  However, we must reject  intemperate campaign tactics and not throw the innocent out with the  guilty.  I am available to discuss any aspect of this issue, any time  day or night between now and Thursday or beyond.

Your friend, Larry

75 comments

  1. fishtail says:

    LoopHole Larry…could you please help me with my tax preparation this year? I hear you can make taxes “disappear”…that sounds wonderful!! I will drop my tax info off at the Speaker’s Office next week. And congrats on nailing down the Speaker’s job…who says crime doesn’t pay?

  2. Making Sense says:

    I think that is an unfair comment Fishtail and I usually agree with you.

    I do however have a concern over the overuse of “Bobby Kahn”. As we know, Bobby Khan was the one who filed the ethics complaint against Richardson that was swept under the rug.

    The merits of a complaint or raised issue should be measured on the merits of the complaint and not on the basis of who files the complaint. Attacking the attacker is the oldest political trick in the book and rings hollow, especially since Kahn was the one who brought the Richardson issue to light in the first place.

    Props to Mr. O’Neall for speaking out, I just disagree with his tactics in doing so.

    • Making Sense says:

      In case it isn’t clear – I think Mr. O’Neall represents too much of the business as usual mentality and that’s not what is needed right now.

      • trainsplz says:

        1. So the guy spent all of that energy writing tax legislation to lower the taxes of “hundreds” of people, when they can’t get anything out the door to help over 1 million Georgians daily get to work in a reasonable amount of time? I’d say that’s business as usual, for sure.

        2. Doesn’t the fact that the audit passed just mean that he followed the law that he wrote?

        • politicalwidow says:

          IRS audits can and do go beyond what is simply “legal.” They look at what is “intended.” That’s why people generally soil their britches when the IRS starts to audit them 🙂

  3. Eh, I like to poke sticks at my partisan friends on Peach Pundit for fun… but in all fairness, the “Sonny Tax Loophole” really ISN’T a very legitimate issue. O’Neal still carries a ton of baggage, and the GOP caucus has to decide if they want to carry that into next year’s election cycle. But the tax bill and the conflict of being the governor’s attorney are not the strongest points of attack (providing that he did in fact take the latter issue off the table).

      • The strongest point of attack is his utter refusal to defy Richardson until the very last moment, when Richardson’s downfall was inevitable. Ethical rules that he supports now are ones that he opposed just a year ago. A vote for him is not a vote for cleanup, but rather for hoping you can go back to the status quo once the storm passes.

        Of course, even that may not be a particularly strong point of attack… because riding out the storm and getting back to the status quo is probably the ideal outcome desired by most legislators. 🙂

  4. fishtail says:

    If O’Neal really has been exonerated by the IRS, why doesn’t he show us his letter from the IRS that says he’s innocent? And if that tax break has benefitted many other Georgians than Perdue, why doesn’t he give us the details instead of referring us to go search the State Revenue Department’s files? Also, was it O’Neal who personally handled the amendments that benefitted the Governor to the tune of $100K? He says he’s free to talk about these matters now, so let’s hear ALL the facts. But I doubt he’s going to come clean other than give us a copy of his election-eve self-serving letter to his colleagues.

  5. mitchmartin says:

    I dont know what to say other than “wow.” I always wanted to believe Governor Perdue and Larry O’Neal, because I believe both of them are fine, outstanding men that would not be involved in the kind of shenanigans that we repeatedly saw from the old guard Democrats. But I have to admit there was always a question in the back of my mind.
    This answers that lingering question in the back of my mind, and I can now fully support Larry for Speaker.
    Rep. O’Neal, thank you for clarifying this matter.

  6. AthensRepublican says:

    Interesting defense put up by Rep. O’Neal, but I am not convinced that he is the appropriate candidate that the caucus should elect as Speaker.

    I suppose he is running “on his good name” but he chose to ally himself during his political career with those (Richardson) that made bad choices both for Georgia and the GOP. Many of the things he now says he supports he opposed as part of the leadership and he has not addressed it. The enlightenment occured when it “became too much of a distraction.”

    I have no reason to doubt Rep. O’Neal’s honesty and sincerity but I do have reason to doubt his ability to lead.

    • Part-Time Atlanta says:

      I think you’re right and that is why he shouldn’t be the next speaker. I apreciate his explanation, it makes sense, puts me at ease, and clears up an issue. What it doesn’t do is explain why he didn’t act to remove Richardson prior to now or at least support others’ efforts to do so. Larry O’Neal being speaker doesn’t stop the Democrat argument of “culture of corruption.” This email has explained away one reason he shouldn’t be speaker…when does the next email come?

    • McDawg81 says:

      The House leadership is in dire need of a thorough cleaning. I agree with AR in questioning his ability to lead. Let’s search to see if we can find men of integrity to put into the leadership positions and sweep out the old regime!

    • politicalwidow says:

      You were doubting his honesty as late as yesterday.

      That’s fine if there is objective reason to do so, but I think O’Neal makes an excellent point – Republicans should have been very skeptical of this thing all along considering the source of the attack.

      You are a good Republican. You have to admit that’s a fair point.

      As for O’Neal’s ability to lead, that’s a legitimate question for all the candidates, but it is again very unfair to blame him for not “confronting Glenn Richardson” when Richardson’s own ex-wife said she worked with him to keep proof of the AGL lobbyist’s affairs secret.

      I would think a legislator who had already been abused on the basis of unproven accusations can be understood for demanding hard proof of the lobbyist affair before dragging the man to the gallows.

      Isn’t this a fair statement?

      • Debra says:

        I was under the impression that he said he knew of the affair….. Wasn’t he the one that said the affair was “Common knowledge.” It might have been someone else that said that, but I thought it was O’Neal.

        Trying to save the reputation of the man you love and being an elected official representing your constituents are clearly two different balls of wax.

      • AthensRepublican says:

        Not on the tax issue. I only pointed out that it had become (to use O’Neal’s words) “too much of a distraction.”

      • Ken in Eastman says:

        politicalwidow,

        Are you saying that the only reason to oppose Richardson was the affair he had with the AGL lobbyist? Are you serious?

        Glenn Richardson’s abuse of power took many forms including punishing fellow legislators for opposing him for legitimate reasons. How many people did he “demote” from committee chairmanships? How many people lost their office space because they crossed Richardson?

        Larry O’Neal did not have the courage to stand against Glenn Richardson. He did not even have the courage to vote against Glenn Richardson.

        A man without the courage to do what is right in adverse conditions should not be elected Georgia House Speaker.

        “Isn’t that a fair statement?”

  7. cheapseats says:

    Poor, poor Larry! He didn’t profit from this at all? So, this was all pro-bono work? And that isn’t an ethical issue?

    Sorry. His explanation may have cleared his name in the letter of the law but, this was very poor judgment to be charitable and very poor judgment is what the Republicans need to put behind them.

  8. james harris says:

    I do think the Hembree team is running him down too much, however he is still too close to the Governor and the rest of the bad leadership team.

    • Ken in Eastman says:

      I agree. I do know David Ralston is focused on putting the caucus back together, promoting teamwork and working on the state’s problems. The anti-Larry O’Neal message being circulated interferes with that.

      My understanding is that there was a message sent from some of Bill Hembree’s supporters that raised questions about Larry O’Neal and that Larry’s letter was in response to them.

    • politicalwidow says:

      James,

      Please consider something. You are saying O’Neal is simultaneously too close to the Governor and the old House leadership team.

      That’s kind of like saying someone plays for UGA and the Gators at the same time (in terms of the conflict that has existed between the governor and the old House leadership).

      Perhaps O’Neal is simply diplomatic and has learned how to work with different people from different perspectives without getting into unnecessary conflict.

      I think that is the “anti-Richardson” qualities that the Macon newspaper editorial was talking about a few days ago.

      After the rush to judgment that happened against O’Neal here the last few days, I think he is entitled to the benefit of that doubt…

      • Ken in Eastman says:

        PW,

        Perhaps O’Neal is simply diplomatic and has learned how to work with different people from different perspectives without getting into unnecessary conflict.

        He was so diplomatic that he voted for Richardson last year when Richardson had opposition. I believe this makes him a little TOO diplomatic to be Georgia House Speaker.

  9. Ken in Eastman says:

    I appreciate Representative O’Neal addressing this issue. I’m sure he is relieved to have this opportunity and this does answer the questions many have raised.

    I do not believe this should be an issue anymore in the race for Georgia House Speaker. My concerns about Representative O’Neal have not been about this issue; however, they have been about his failure to defy Speaker Glenn Richardson and his vote to retain Richardson as Speaker just last year.

    • Harry says:

      Inserting the retroactive tax change was done to benefit ONeal’s friend the governor. I can understand that, and would probably have done the same if I were in his position. I would even allow that maybe his motivation in doing such a favor was not financial.

      The main issue, there has been a perception and pattern of the leadership running an inside game. Ordinary members are excluded from any real input – plied for votes and given scraps to take back home and support at election time. Seems to me that’s always been the case. Let’s open up the system and observe what happens, for better or worse.

      It would be good to get real members to go public with their own views of the situation.

  10. Andre says:

    Remember this ad from the 2006 gubernatorial campaign?

    “Loophole” Larry O’Neal (R – Perry) does, and apparently so do members of the House Republican Caucus deciding whether to elevate the Houston County state Representative to the post of Speaker of the House.

    In a letter to his fellow Republicans, O’Neal goes to great lengths explaining his involvement in getting Gov. Sonny Perdue a sweetheart, $100,000 tax break during the waning hours of the 2005 legislative session.

    If “Loophole” Larry is to believed, former state Democratic Party chairman Bobby Kahn is to blame for everything.

    State Representative Larry O’Neal used his public office to get his good friend Sonny Perdue a $100,000 tax break, but O’Neal says blame Bobby.

    Representative O’Neal had an ethics complaint filed against him because of his secret, backroom deal with the Governor, but again O’Neal says blame Bobby.

    The Internal Revenue Service audited Larry O’Neal, but who’s to blame? You guessed it — Bobby Kahn.

    And if Larry O’Neal isn’t elected Speaker of the House, who will he blame? Bobby Kahn.

    With all due respect to the distinguished gentleman from Houston County, Larry O’Neal’s logic is just loopy.

      • politicalwidow says:

        The problem is – that commercial utterly failed in 2006.

        Why should any Republican legislator think a failed four-year-old attack ad (now refuted by the IRS) will work now?

        • ByteMe says:

          It failed in Perdue vs. Taylor and saying that that was the only reason it failed is ridiculous (considering the relative personal appeal of the two men).

          It hasn’t been tried in “Corrupt Republicans” vs. “Anyone Else”.

          • politicalwidow says:

            The argument is complicated, it’s been refuted by the IRS, and it’s four years old. Saying this makes an effective political attack shows a very bad understanding of how campaigns really work.

            If the Dems want to waste their money again trying to make that attack, let me them do it.

            It’s both a bad political argument, and now refuted by an independent entity.

            I frankly don’t understand how O’Neal can still be attacked on this, while Ralston escapes all criticism. I agree that Ralston factually got a raw deal, but politically the Dems (who don’t give a rip about fairness) will be able to make great hay out of a mailpiece saying “The GOP speaker didn’t pay his taxes, and your rep voted for him.”

            It’s not fair, but politics ain’t bean bag. Being objective, how can you still criticize O’Neal as having an issue that can be used against him and not apply the same standard to Ralston?

          • ByteMe says:

            but politically the Dems (who don’t give a rip about fairness)

            Most ironic part of your post.

            As for the rest of your argument, the IRS isn’t the issue here, never was. That’s a side part of this sideshow. And it’s not just O’Neal on his own that’s the conversation Dems want to have with the public. It’ll also include: Richardson, Cagle, Johnson, Deal, Burkhalter. Throwing O’Neal out there doesn’t establish a pattern, but it continues one.

  11. ByteMe says:

    4. It has been falsely claimed that only one taxpayer benefited from this bill. Hundreds of Georgians have had their taxes reduced by this bill, a fact that you may independently confirm with the Georgia Department of Revenue.

    5. I, personally, did not benefit financially from this bill in any way.

    6. Lastly the retroactivity complained of was done by an amendment actually added in the Senate so one must believe the Bobby Kahn machine that a representative can amend a bill in the Senate, which is now and was then against every rule of the Senate and the Constitution of the state of Georgia; hence impossible on its face or the “immaculate amendment”.

    This is the problem area of the letter, so let’s take them one by one.

    4. Hundreds of taxpayers since 2005 have likely benefited from this law change, that is likely true. But how many benefited from the retroactive nature of it? Why did you say that it was requested by DOR when they clearly denied that?

    5. Financially, you may not have directly benefited, but there are other ways to benefit from an action, including continued proximity to power sources.

    6. So who made it retroactive and why? Did you talk with them beforehand, since you were personally shepherding this amendment through the chambers (as was reported by the AJC at the time)?

      • ByteMe says:

        Uhhh, no, that’s not the point. Thanks for trying to make it the point. The rest of us aren’t buying what you’re selling.

        • Ken in Eastman says:

          ByteMe,

          You really should try some of politicalwidow’s tasty snake oil! Mmmm. It’s good for what ails you and keeps you from having those nasty headaches caused by actual rational thinking!

  12. Bloodhound says:

    New escape clause for our Party: “If it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, Bobby Kahn made it do so!”

    If Larry O’Neal is the answer, we have asked the wrong question.

    The question is, “Who is the right man to end the status quo and bring the House and the Party back to solid Conservative Values?”

    There are several good, solid answers.

  13. benevolus says:

    OK, 49 other states had already passed something like this, but for us in Georgia, it took the governor himself needing a tax break to make it happen.

    I am curious; how was the retroactive date established? Did we go back to when the first state passed something like this? When Alabama passed theirs? 7 years? Or was their some other significant event that became the target date?

  14. macho says:

    Larry Neal is a class act who will behave light years beyond the current regime. I don’t know the other candidates for Speaker, so I won’t speak to them. I do find it amusing that you have a lot of posters who lean left, who basically criticize all the candidates.

    I hate to tell you, but there is no perfect candidate. Each one of them will have voted or supported something you don’t like. They all take lobbyist contributions.

  15. achilles says:

    It was backdated one year, Benevolus, the one year it took to cover Perdue. The Dep’t of Revenue said later that if they had been asked, they would have recommended making it retroactive for three years, so that others could take advantage.

    But they weren’t consulted.

    • politicalwidow says:

      This just goes to show that no level of proof will convince some folks. I guess the IRS was in on this too… 🙁

      • benevolus says:

        You are referring to the legality of it, and since the legislature makes the laws they are the ones who made it legal. That’s not really the issue. Most of the rest on here are talking about the ethics of it. It is clear to me he did a favor for the governor, and this letter actually makes things worse by claiming innocence.

        If Mr. O’Neal is trying to obfuscate what happened, even he must realize that it looks bad.

        • politicalwidow says:

          As noted above, IRS audits go beyond what is simply “legal” and go into what is “intended” by any series of tax-influencing events. That’s why people get so scared to death when faced with a forensic audit, because the IRS has such discretionary power to pretty much do what they want.

          As for O’Neal obfuscating the matter, I think the complicated nature of the tax law involved is what makes it look murky and has bred the suspicions that have been fanned by the Dems. People don’t really understand all this tax law, so it has been easy for Dems to raise suspicions.

          But as civil libertarians, we don’t hang people for “suspicions.” Proof is required, and in this instance it appears to have come down pretty heavily on O’Neal’s side.

          • benevolus says:

            You are still (willfully?) missing the point. The actual tax issue isn’t the issue. If they were making our law similar to other states, fine. But why did it come up right then? And why make it retroactive? And if you are going to make it retroactive, how do you choose how far back to go? Is it just a coincidence that the governor just happened to be affected by the new law- as long as it was made retroactive exactly as far back as it was? These are easy questions to answer, and the letter above does nothing to answer them.

  16. B Balz says:

    Thank you Rep. O’Neal for your letter, as it, in my mind, clarifies some important points regarding your 2005 ‘tax legislation’. Thank you Erick for making it possible for ‘everyman’ to have a voice in our Democratic process.

    Rep. O’Neal recognizes, perhaps to his chagrin, that blogs allow the ideas and opinions of ‘everyman’ to be heard and that is meaningful to the political process. Call it a paradigm shift or a return to the Town Hall, blogs are a real game changer, with tangible and unpredictable consequences.

    The effect of public online commentary to our political process is no longer at question. As long as civil and intelligent citizens choose to become involved, our elected representatives will be listening to them via forums like Peach Pundit.

    I don’t know which fellow is better able to lead the House through the weeds in 2010, Rep. Ralston or Rep. O’Neal. My opinions about each Rep. were not formed by Democrats, rather by fellow disenfranchised Republicans.

    House members know more constituents are watching, and ultimately those constituents are the stakeholders in the efficacy of 2010 legislative decisions. I implore our House representatives to choose its’ Speaker wisely.

    The ‘eyes’ have it each November we vote.

  17. bartsimpsonisdaman says:

    Hey dudes, no one is asking the big question? Does he prefer beer over scotch? What about his choice in babes? Do they have hairy legs and armpits or do they look like Richardson’s party girls?

    The man looks boring enough but we still don’t know what kind of liquor is flowing through the water pipes.

  18. Romegaguy says:

    Yes the bill was ORIGINALLY introduced at the request of the Department of Revenue to make our laws the same as the other 49 states.

    Yes the amendment to make it retroactive was added in the Senate Committee but at the request of Rep Oneal. The amendment was not asked for by the Department.

    If the bill benefited 100s of people then why hasnt Larry found ONE (other than the obvious one) to come forward? It might have benefited several people but I’m willing to bet only the Governor benefited from the retroactive part that was added at Larry’s request.

    What other disinformation will Rep Oneal throw out there before the election tomorrow?

    • Harry says:

      Thanks for the clarification about DOR involvement in the original request – but without the retroactivity. That makes more sense of the matter. Sneaky influence used to “tweak” otherwise sound legislation drives me nuts.

      • ByteMe says:

        He does a great job body-slamming this explanation:

        6. Lastly the retroactivity complained of was done by an amendment actually added in the Senate so one must believe the Bobby Kahn machine that a representative can amend a bill in the Senate, which is now and was then against every rule of the Senate and the Constitution of the state of Georgia; hence impossible on its face or the “immaculate amendment”.

        Minutes from the Senate committee that made the change retroactive indicate that this was added as a courtesy because a last-minute request for that change was made by… wait for it…. 🙂

    • acoalson says:

      Hank,

      Why not show up and see for yourself? The meeting is at 10:00 Thursday morning in the House chambers. That is, if the meeting isn’t closed… again.

      • Romegaguy says:

        Meeting is at 11 am and even though it will be open, the voting will be by secret ballot. Good luck finding out how any particular legislator votes

  19. Sally Austin says:

    The Ralston train seems to have the most steam right now. Here’s what I am hearing on the different camps.

    Ralston

    A lot of members think David Ralston is simply the strongest candidate. He stood up to Richardson when most would not. He commands respect he doesn’t demand it. He has been calling the caucus like crazy, speaking to everyone, trying to include everyone, even the folks that are close to O’Neal and Hembree. He is saying very respectful things about both of his opponents. He has addressed the concerns and reservations members had about him head on.

    O’Neal

    O’Neal, for some reason has not been calling people. Allen Peake and Earl Ehrhart have been calling on his behalf. O’Neal has (in print) tried to answer some of the questions about the tax issue. There are still concerns about his close relationship with the Governor and his allies (Keen and current leadership). One member said “I don’t think running for Speaker was something Larry thought up himself, I think the Speaker’s folks saw that they were going down and they thought Larry was the cleanest one of them that they could get elected Speaker.” More than one person has said O’Neal’s heart just doesn’t seem to be in it.

    Hembree

    Hembree wants to be Speaker bad, but unfortunately, he seems to be bringing up the rear at the moment. His supporters like him a lot, but don’t think he can win. There also appears to be some bad blood between the Hembree and O’Neal camps. One member said that “Bill is really hard on Larry and David over the phone.” Another concern is that Hembree’s district is going more minority everyday. Hembree is telling folks that he can hang on in 2010 and redraw the seat. Members are worried that he will have to raise a ton of money just to survive next fall, which may draw dollars away from them. One member put it this way, “we can’t afford to have a Speaker who has to spend all his time and energy trying to get himself re-elected. We need a Speaker who is in a safe district who can spend his time helping the rest of the caucus.”

    • Sally,

      Let me assure you that Larry O’Neal is making LOTS of phone calls and is working very hard, and with all his heart and energy, to win this election. Also, be assured, only two people decided that Larry needed to run – Larry himself, and his wife Kathy. “The Speaker’s folks” had absolutely nothing to do with it, I know that for fact.

    • flyonthewall says:

      Sally! Your analysis is a bit flawed. The Earhart/Keen spin team is trying to scare house members with this “weak” district garbage about Hembree. What a crock! Hembree’s district was 60 percent for McCain and this will be an off election year. The house republicans need a leader that has energy, stamina, and intellectual capacities to do the job. While the other candidates have most of those qualities, Hembree has them all.

      • politicalwidow says:

        I’m sorry, but you’re wrong. Hembree’s district has gone from being 16% black in 2006 all the way to 35% black in just 3 years. Obama and Martin both won his seat (and Douglas County overall went both for Obama and Martin – that county is just going away from us fast).

        As fast as the district is changing, it will probably be nearly 40% black by 2010 election, and off year or not that is just not winnable for most Republicans, especially since the Dems would throw everything they could at him to beat him as speaker.

        The district changing is not Hembree’s fault, but if he is misleading people about how bad his district is then it is his fault.

    • Making Sense says:

      Ralston is the best choice – inclusive leadership, record of standing up for what’s right, willing to put Georgia first.

      Earhart has abused his office and power and needs to be displaced and Keen’s arrogant leadership style and BLIND EYE at Richardson’s transgressions make me question O’Neall’s associations.

      And Hembree – well I don’t take him serious as a candidate.

  20. leantothemiddle says:

    I must be slow. But how can the IRS have any say so over state taxes? This was a state tax change, not a federal tax change. The IRS had no authority here. They can only check to make sure the federal taxes were paid.

    • ByteMe says:

      You’re only a little slow, seeing as how some of us were questioning this same thing earlier today. While others are still thinking the IRS is the first-last-and-everything-in-between for the argument.

  21. politicalwidow says:

    I’m hearing “Mr. Change” Bill Hembree has promised Ben Harbin he can keep his committee chairmanship to get some “skirt chaser” votes.

    Looks like Jesus is making a deal with the Devil.

    • AthensRepublican says:

      Is there a sense then that O’Neal is losing support? Seems something must be happening if the status quo gang is jumping ship.

      I do agree with you. Harbin needs to go.

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