Looking Beyond The Public Smiles At The Biennial Meeting

Republicans have had a lot to smile about lately, and look for Cheshire grins to be on display in Athens as the epicenter of Georgia government to be in Athens today and tomorrow.  The biennial meeting, hosted by UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute, is a meeting held for all legislators and other interested members of GA Government, represents the first time for the newly expanded Republican majorities to meet en masse.

Moving beyond the obvious successes of a statewide constitutional sweep and the resulting parade of party switchers, however, there is still a bit of friction that must be addressed in-house.   The Senate leadership and the Lt. Governor are still at war with each other, and bits of this fissure continue to show themselves publicly.

A story was floated again last week, this time landing in the AJC, regarding government affairs work Majority Leader Chip Rogers has done for a “plant based diet” advocacy group.   While the work was not done to influence the Georgia legislature, nor when the legislature was in session, someone has been working hard to make sure you know that Chip Rogers has worked for a group that breaks neither state law nor (almost nonexistent) ethics rules, or worse, that he may be a vegetarian.

I say working hard because the first time this story was sent to Peach Pundit’s tip line, it was Good Friday afternoon.   The tip had so many extraneous links and exposed html codes that I originally didn’t read it, until a local Atlanta political reporter texted me asking if I had gotten the “amazing” picture of Chip Rogers and Dennis Kucinich.  (Kucinich’s wife has also worked PR for the same group).

After I went back and looked, there were a lot of links, a lot of pictures, but no real “news”.  I would estimate that half the legislature has some corporate/government affairs tie that allows them to work “part time” while serving the legislature.  There are many who walk up to and cross a line that use their position to steer contracts or other business to their employers, or the prime contractor to which they are a sub.  So I called the reporter and had the next level conversation with him:  Why would someone want to drop a story with no other reason than to embarrass the Majority Leader on Good Friday?   Peach Pundit decided to pass on the story, as did he.  GALiberal, now Georgia Politico, ran with it.

The unique thing about the timing of that tip, however, was that it was the day after Rogers had a very public meeting with Austin Scott, then candidate for Governor who was openly considering a run for Lt. Governor.   Other charges of leaking information, specifically the shopping of Scott’s divorce record, are attributed to Lt. Governor Cagle because of that meeting.

While there is no evidence that Cagle participated or knew of these leaks, there is also now a pattern.   The next time it appeared in our tip line was a couple of days before the Senate caucus meeting in Macon, when Lt. Governor Cagle finally acknowledged that the move to limit his powers was a real possibility.   The third coincided with the Gang of 6 meeting at the 191 Club, the first meeting on the Senate’s power sharing Committee on Assignments, which did not include the Lt. Governor’s appointees.

The timing of these tips relative to the threats to Cagle’s power represent amazing coincidences, and most politicos don’t believe in coincidence.  Someone with ties to Cagle appears to want to take the battle against Rogers and perhaps the rest of the Senate Leadership public.

Privately, however, things are not faring much better.  Though the directive upon forming the Committee On Assignments was to have the Senate Leadership to immediately meet with the Lt. Governor, five weeks passed before Tommie Williams dropped in on the Lt. Governor last Monday, unannounced.  Given the strain between the two that must be addressed, the timing is weak and the lack an appointment is tacky and denotes a lack of respect.

Given that even the likes of Doug McKillip is now claiming to be a conservative, this dysfunction within the Senate is not likely to cause an immediate threat to the permanent majority that Republicans hold.  However, one should also be reminded of the story of a freshman legislator who called the other party “the enemy”.   A senior legislator grabbed him and shouted, “The other party is the opposition, the enemy is across the hall in the other chamber.”

One year ago, the House was in total disarray.  The Speaker and Speaker Pro tem were mired in ethical questions and unable to continue in leadership.  The majority leader followed them out the door.  A new speaker held the reigns gently in order to hold things together.   He did a good job, and the House is now strong again.

The Senate, now, continues to fight among themselves, and the fight continues to bubble up in Public.  This is not good for the Senate, for the party, and most importantly, for the people of Georgia.  While the term “power sharing” was floated to save face, it is clear at this point that little has yet been saved.  Republicans need to close the doors at their caucus meeting later today and settle some of these issues.  Georgia needs their attention on the very real problems we face, not on trying to even the score of the inside baseball game.

31 comments

  1. John Konop says:

    I know Chip and he has not made it a secret about how he eats a very healthy diet. I have myself cut back on meat and only have whole grains, cut back on my sugar, no deep fired foods and cut back on dairy products and I do feel healthier with more energy.

    I have heard the same BS and told people if you have a policy issue make the point. But attacking a person over eating more healthy is nuts! The people behind this attack need to get a life.

    And finally I have not always agreed with Chip on every issue. But I will say he is always open to hear what people think and has open Town halls all the time in Cherokee. And he stands up a takes all questions even after the events.

    It is great Charlie posted this so people can tell the office holders we our more concerned about unemployment, healthcare, education, transportation…..than a healthy diet!

  2. Three Jack says:

    from the ajc story, “I personally moved to a diet based heavily on fruits and vegetables on the advice of my doctor and have seen firsthand how proper diet can lower cholesterol, which has been a serious problem in my family for generations,” Rogers said.

    same as the ex-smoker trying to force others to quit smoking. it’s great that rogers decided to eat healthy, but not his right to impose his dietary choices on others while getting paid by a vegan group to do so. if parents don’t like the choices offered in a school lunch program, then they can choose to provide alternative food for their kids. it is not government’s job to feed the children or be the dietary consultants for irresponsible parents.

  3. Baker says:

    I think the horse is pretty much out of the barn on govt provided lunches, so if they’re gonna do it, they might as well be healthy lunches.

    • Three Jack says:

      baker,

      i’m pretty sure there are many regulations at every level of government requiring schools to serve healthy lunches. i don’t think rogers will be blazing a new trail by attempting to impose his idea of healthy food (as prescribed by the group paying him to be the imposer) on school children.

      i would be much happier to have learned that rogers was a paid lobbyist on behalf of a group calling for private education options to offset the bankrupt government system failing our children everyday.

  4. HardTruths says:

    While I have long been a reader, I am posting for the first time because this post just pushed my buttons. (not in a good way) You are missing the point. Chip Rogers is a REGISTERED FEDERAL LOBBYIST. That’s the bottom line. He is paid to advocate for positions and then uses his heft as the Senate Majority Leader to pass a resolution in support of them. For you to somehow claim that this is common and appropriate- that half of the legislature is doing government affairs work is ridiculous.

    Truth is most members of the general assembly work hard to follow the law and do legitimate work. Those of us that know what happens under the Gold Dome understand that Rogers isn’t one of those guys. And all of us know that this isn’t the only example of him using his position to make money.

    For you to explain away his behavior with lame excuses- they’re making fun of him for being a vegetarian, he wasn’t a lobbyist, just a government affairs professional…. is laughable. He’s a lobbyist plain and simple. And while he’s in Georgia calling himself a true conservative, he’s being paid by a PETA front group that is against hunting and eating meat to lobby in DC with Dennis’ Kucinich’s wife at his side.

    I am one of those people who likes going to Peach Pundit for what I think will be news and information, but lately it seems that your personal views are getting in the way of legitimate discussions. The people of Georgia had a chance to vote and they rejected your Handel/Porter/Everson/Douglas love affair. Let’s not keep fighting those old fights. Move on. It’s getting sad.

    • Charlie says:

      I specifically asked Sen Rogers if he did in fact register as a lobbyist before I posted this. He said he did not. Do you have proof that he is, in fact, a REGISTERED FEDERAL LOBBYIST? If so, please provide.

      Regardless, like it or not, it isn’t against the law nor state ethics rules if he did register. And, as I pointed out, it’s much less of a conflict than many of his peers operate with every day under the gold dome.

      • HardTruths says:

        Let’s start with the AP.
        The majority leader of the Georgia Senate says he worked part-time in the past two years as a paid lobbyist for a special interest group, whose agenda was supported by a Senate resolution the lawmaker co-sponsored.

        How about the AJC.
        Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, has been a paid lobbyist for a national special interest group and has advocated for the organization’s positions in Georgia, including co-sponsoring a state Senate resolution that supports its agenda.

        While I am not skilled enough to know how to look up federal lobbyists, I am certain the AP and the AJC are. And when making this type of accusation they surely did their homework.

            • John Konop says:

              And on once again if you read the form Chip Rogers was in front of Congress advocating for strong laws like Georgia for the proper treatment of animals. Once again are you against the proper treatment of animals?

          • Dave Bearse says:

            “I specifically asked Sen Rogers if he did in fact register as a lobbyist before I posted this. He said he did not.”

            Since Legislative Council Kristin Adair registered him, indeed HE didn’t register as a lobbyist, Adair did it for him. Seems you may have been played.

            • Charlie says:

              I was posting earlier on the road/in between meetings. The “long version” of the answer is below, as Ken has summed up fairly well.

              The organization registering someone is not the same as an individual registering to lobby. It’s a semantic difference, sure. But it’s does represent a legal and ethical boundary. One which Senator Rogers does not appear to have crossed.

              We had a sitting Senator last session bragging on a website that if you hired his firm, you could get access to him and to the rest of the key players in Economic Development in Georgia. We’ve had a house member charge a local governement which he represents $2K/month extra to represent them down at the Capitol – with no record of a contract or any work product.

              My point is that the powers that be at the Cap are quite OK with those arrangments, but only had a problem with Senator Rogers working for a Federal level client outside of the GA legislative session each time Cagle had a tiff with Senate leadership.

              And, if they want to go after Rogers for his arrangment, they better be prepared to take on the rest of the members of the legislature in large numbers.

        • John Konop says:

          HT,

          Do you disagree with strong laws against torturing animals? Do you think that pulling people together on all sides against torturing animals is wrong?

          • Three Jack says:

            hard facts – wtf does dog fighting have to do with this thread? from chip rogers, “my work only dealt with federal policy pertaining to improving school meals to add more fruits and vegetables – a policy issue I strongly believe in.”

            try to stop on topic konop.

            • John Konop says:

              The point is simple; Chip has found common ground with people who promote healthy foods and the proper treatment of animals. Do you really think the above issues are not supported by most rational people?

              • Three Jack says:

                finding ‘common ground’ that increases government influence on the upbringing of children is not laudable. when will parents be held accountable for the health and well being of their children? and when did it become fiscally conservative to increase handouts to those who act irresponsibly by having children they cannot afford to raise.

                sorry john, but i’m damn tired of seeing new initiatives that replace parenting with more bureaucracy. i’m disappointed in chip for accepting payment in this matter and even more disappointed in his position on this issue.

                  • Three Jack says:

                    john your simplistic view is showing again. do you even have a clue what is in the ‘healthy – hunger free kids act’ signed by your president yesterday? no, well here’s a link to help you understand how this $4.5b (current estimated cost sure to increase dramatically over time as the fed takes over all aspects of child development) piece of pork legislation will help govt. play the role of nutrionist for children instead of the parents. not to mention how much local control is lost — “Under the new law, the USDA, led by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture (currently Tom Vilsack), has the authority to establish national nutrition standards for all food products sold on school grounds — vending machines, lunch lines and school stores.”

                    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/14/child-nutrition-bill-some_n_796112.html#s206024

                    it even has pics john so you should be able to follow along. i invite you to spend some time reading up on this piece of legislation

                    here is the reaction to this legislation from the group that paid senator rogers (they want even more federal regulation) — http://www.pcrm.org/news/meatless_meals_crucial_school_lunch_reform_101202.html

                    • John Konop says:

                      TJ,

                      FIRST FROM THREE JACK:

                      Chip Rogers;

                      ……“my work only dealt with federal policy pertaining to improving school meals to add more fruits and vegetables – a policy issue I strongly believe in.”…..

                      THAN AFTER A FEW MORE DRUGS:

                      ……$4.5b (current estimated cost sure to increase dramatically over time as the fed takes over all aspects of child development) piece of pork legislation will help govt. play the role of nutrionist for children instead of the parents. not to mention how much local control is lost…..

                      You have a totally lost it. Chip has been advocating for more fruits and vegetables at school lunches and stooping abusive treatment of animals’ end of story. For you to jump this far off the reservation seems like a real issue that could be drugs, caffeine, mental issues………Seek help ASAP!

                    • Three Jack says:

                      geez john, chill out. i know you worship senator rogers but the truth is the truth. the group paying him to lobby in dc spent $500,000 in support of s3307 with rogers listed as their head of governmental affairs. s3307 was signed into law yesterday, rogers lobbied on behalf of pcrm to gain passage. read the bill (or at least the summary).

    • John Konop says:

      HardTruths or should I say NotTruth?

      It is once again no secret that Chip is strong on protecting the rights of animals. I do not think this is a liberal or conservative view because the issue crosses over all sides.

      I guess you are pro dog fighting?

      …. Dog Fighting Law— Senator Rogers’s four-year effort to pass a Dog Fighting Bill resulted in one of the nation’s strongest laws against the torture of pets. Georgia is now ranked as having the third strongest dog-fighting law in America…..

      http://www.senatorchiprogers.com/issues.html

      • For anyone too pressed, here’s the quote I got directly from Senator Rogers:

        “The position was not of a lobbyist. The company registered me so as to make sure they were in full compliance with the law just in case I met with federal representatives. Any contact I had with members of the executive or legislative branch actually never met the requirements of having to register, but they were over-cautious and in this environment I cannot blame them.

        Again, I did no work and was not paid during any time in which the legislature was in session and my work only dealt with federal policy pertaining to improving school meals to add more fruits and vegetables – a policy issue I strongly believe in.”

        Chip Rogers is, to the best of my knowledge, not a lobbyist.

        • Dave Bearse says:

          I accept that Chip didn’t do any lobbying that met the requirements of having to register, and it’s smart to take no chances, but it’s employing a bit of semantics to claim he’s not a lobbyist given what appears to be his registration as same.

          • Hi Dave,

            Chip Rogers was the Director of Government Affairs. I did communicate with Senator Rogers about this and I feel satisfied with his response – and if you see my initial blog, you’ll see that I was skeptical.

            Each of us; however, will have to make our own decisions.

  5. HardTruths says:

    Wow. Wow.

    Here I thought that this might still be a place for honest political discussion. Boy was I wrong. Apparently the only standard at Peach Pundit now is we believe anybody willing to pretend we’re relevant and talk to us like we matter.

    Forget official documents, the AP, and the AJC. If Chip says he wasn’t a lobbyist, there rest of the evidence is clearly false. He told us that when he was accused of wrongdoing.

    Unreal.

  6. B Balz says:

    @HardTruths: PRICELESS!

    “The people of Georgia had a chance to vote and they rejected your Handel/Porter/Everson/Douglas love affair. Let’s not keep fighting those old fights. Move on. It’s getting sad.”

    Even more incredible “Handel/Porter/Everson/Douglas” morphed into “Barnes/Porter/Everson/Douglas” and the ever-popular slippery shoelaces….

    That and all the screeching about ethics, when, in fact some FPP’s might be construed as ‘undisclosed’ advocates in the last cycle.

    Blogs are not held ‘journalistic standards’, thus I like the analogy of blogs likened to monkeys throwing their feces about the cage….

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