From Libertarians

Kellie Austin To Run For Something Statewide–Details At 5:30

CS2_9617_ppKellie Austin’s campaign manager issued a press release announcing a campaign announcement for some statewide office at 5:30 this afternoon somewhere on the Square in downtown Lawrenceville.  Apparently she is responding, as the sub-headline of the presser says, “to the request of many to oppose a statewide incumbent in 2016.”  Here’s the presser (formatting is as it was in the original email):

(Gwinnett) — Kellie Austin will announce on Wednesday at 5:30 pm on the Square in downtown Lawrenceville, GA her plans to seek elected office.

Kellie Austin has never run for public office and is fed up with watching politicians become disconnected from the people they were elected to represent. Having the support of grassroots organizations and concerned Georgians, she has made the decision to challenge the incumbent for statewide office in 2016.

Kellie will stand for the rights of Georgians and has no personal agenda and no industry prejudice. She says, “We must get back to solid, common sense, economically viable solutions.”

Kellie is a true Georgia Girl. She was born in Hall County and has lived in Decatur, Fayette, Fulton, Habersham, and Stephens counties while growing up. She has lived for the past decade in Gwinnett. She has been a respected political consultant and has helped many businesses to reach their greater potential through her business marketing development. She understands economic development in the private sector, having worked closely with several Community Improvement Districts.

To find about more about Kellie and her campaign, visit her website: VoteKellie.Com

Her website, as of 1:30p EDT, had a parking page from GoDaddy, so no information available yet.

Most statewide elected offices were decided last year, but there are a couple of statewide offices that are on the ballot: US Senator and Public Service Commissioner – District 2.  Maybe she’s running for US Senate against Johnny Isakson since she’s running against an nondescript incumbent.  The rumors that are currently floating about is that she will be running for Public Service Commissioner currently held by Commissioner Tim Echols who was elected in 2010 and is up for re-election next year.  Of course, her presser doesn’t say if she will be running as a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or Independent.  If she runs as a Republican, she would be joining Michelle Miller who announced earlier this year that she would be running for the Republican nomination against Echols.

We’ll have to wait until 5:30p to get the full details on if she’s running for Senate, PSC, or something else.

HB 56 Hopes to Regulate No-Knock Warrants

The police practice of executing no knock search warrants came under criticism last year with the botched case of 18 month old Bou Bou Phonesavanh. Officers executing the warrant late in the evening had hoped to find drugs or weapons, but they found neither, nor did they locate a drug dealer. Upon entering the house, the officers deployed a flash bang grenade in order to distract the home’s occupants. The grenade landed in a crib holding the baby and exploded, injuring Bou Bou, which led to expensive medical treatment that the family could ill afford.

At present in Georgia, the use of no-knock warrants is lightly regulated, if at all. In order to receive a search warrant, an officer must go before a judge and swear an oath explaining the probable cause for needing the warrant. And in practice, officers can request that they can execute the warrant without knocking on the door and identifying themselves first. While meant to be used sparingly, judges in some jurisdictions reportedly issue no-knock warrants up to 80% of the time.

To address this issue, Dawsonville Republican Rep. Kevin Tanner wrote House Bill 56 in order to codify the use of no knock warrants and provide a method of monitoring their use. The bill specifically defines a no knock warrant, and sets up several conditions that must be satisfied before one can be issued. Under the bill, in order for a judge to issue a no knock warrant to an officer, the warrant request would have to have been reviewed by that officer’s supervising officer, who then must accompany the first officer in the warrant’s execution. Except for good cause, the no knock warrant must be executed between 6 AM and 10 PM, and the applying officer must testify that knocking and announcing the police presence would cause an imminent danger to life or the destruction of evidence.

In addition, any law enforcement agency that uses no knock warrants must develop written policies for their use that can be examined by the general public. The bill also requires each judge who issues any type of search warrant to produce a monthly report detailing the number of warrants issued and the number of no knock warrants requested and executed. Read more

Libertarian Support Dissolves at the Polls

For all the speculation of a Libertarian candidate pushing two of the nation’s most-watched political races into a runoff, neither Andrew Hunt or Amanda Swafford were ever a factor in Tuesday night’s elections.

Libertarian support dissolved completely at the polls, allowing both Gov. Nathan Deal and David Perdue to cruise to comfortable victories.

As a result, Democrats in Georgia will continue to wander in the political wilderness for at least the next decade. Even with two election cycles between now and 2020, Democrats will not be able to gain enough clout under the Gold Dome to play an influential role in the next big political battle – redistricting, as mandated every time a Census is conducted.

For 2018, expect state Rep. Stacey Abrams and Secretary of State Brian Kemp to take their battle over voter registration to the governor’s race. Both have to be considered leading candidates in what will become an open gubernatorial contest in four years.

New Poll: Deal, Carter Headed to a Runoff?

“Stuck in the mud” is how a new poll released Friday describes Georgia’s gubernatorial race between incumbent Nathan Deal and state Sen. Jason Carter.

The new InsiderAdvantage/Fox 5/Morris News Super Poll shows Deal and Carter at 43 percent, with Libertarian Andrew Hunt at 4 percent.

“This race seems stuck in the mud and still appears headed for a runoff,” said pollster Matt Towery. “It should be noted that our poll weights African-American turnout at a higher rate than most other surveys. If that turnout is lower, Deal will take a bigger lead.”

Towery said the poll’s biggest news is that Carter has 32 percent of the white vote in our survey.

“That reaches the magic number that Democrats have failed to receive in recent statewide races,” he said.

In the Senate race, David Perdue leads Michelle Nunn, 47 percent to 43 percent, with Libertarian Amanda Swafford at 3 percent.

“Nunn has gained ground in recent weeks,” said Towery. “A key to this was the Perdue ad made by his campaign, using a leaked Nunn campaign memo. Perdue’s ad suggested that the non-profit Nunn ran aided terrorists. The ad appears to have blown up on the Perdue campaign.”

Libertarian Party Candidates Woo Tea Party Members

“Politics makes for strange bedfellows.” In what could be one of the more interesting headlines you will come across this election cycle,  it seems like the Georgia Libertarian Party is trying hard to woo the Tea Party its way this November. Libertarian Gubernatorial candidate Andrew Hunt and Senatorial candidate Amanda Swafford have been making the rounds, visiting Tea Party groups around Georgia.

Just to quickly recap from earlier this summer, Tea Party groups in Georgia suffered a resounding setback when almost all of its primary candidates ended up losing. Both David Perdue and Governor Nathan Deal had Tea Party backed primary opponents that they eventually ended up defeating.

The Libertarian Party (which I am told does not necessarily represent all libertarians) appears to be taking advantage of this Tea Party setback, and is even trying to capitalize (no pun intended) on it. It remains to be seen how successful it will be in this endeavor. From the original article that appeared in the AJC over this past weekend:

There was no guarantee that Georgia gubernatorial candidate Andrew Hunt was going to get an opportunity to speak, but he went ahead and made the 1 1/2-hour drive up I-75 from Atlanta to be at this tea party meeting on a Tuesday night. Once he did arrive, the Libertarian and nanotechnology innovator was given five minutes — more than enough time to get across the spirit of his pitch of more jobs, less government.

The night before, Hunt was more than 330 miles away, giving his stump speech to a crowded room of tea party empathizers in Savannah. There was a purpose behind his far-flung travel plans: finding common ground with these conservative activists is crucial for the underdog’s hope to compete with incumbent Republican Gov. Nathan Deal and Democratic challenger Jason Carter.

The article goes on to point out that:

Hunt isn’t the only Georgia Libertarian to seek tea party support. U.S. Senate candidate Amanda Swafford played cornhole with constituents before speaking at a Gwinnett County Tea Party meeting on Aug. 26. Ted Metz, a contender for insurance commissioner, has joined Hunt on his grass-roots tour, while state House District 21 write-in candidate Jeff Amason has attended tea party events in Cherokee County in the past.

While the Tea Party and the Libertarian Party do see eye-to-eye on fiscal issues, it remains to be seen how the Georgia Libertarian Party ignores addresses the existing differences between its socially liberal platforms and the Tea Party’s socially conservative ones. What do you think about this interesting scenario? Could such an alliance ultimately be successful? Discuss.

Sam Moore Withdraws HB 1033 and Addresses the House

State Rep. Sam Moore bowed to reality on Monday, and withdrew House Bill 1033, which proposed reforming loitering laws, and loosening restrictions on sex offenders going near places children congregate.

He took to the well of the House to respond to the controversy that developed Friday after word got out about his bill. He began by offering an apology to his fellow legislators, the people of Georgia, and residents of House District 22, which he represents.

He explained that he dropped the bills in a hurry, knowing that Legislative Day 30, known as Crossover Day, was fast approaching. He understood bills dropped after Crossover Day, especially in the second year of the legislative session, would not receive much consideration, if any at all.

I wanted my legislation vetted in Committee so I could start the conversation, learn from the process, improve my legislation with sage feedback, and push my legislation ‘for real’ the following year after I had learned the system.

However, I had no idea that anyone other than assigned Committee members would be looking at the legislation I dropped. That is why I didn’t question the controversial language that Legislative Council included.

That was obviously a mistake. Had I reached out to other members, this mistake could have been avoided.

If I had known that the media would be looking at my legislation, I probably wouldn’t have dropped any of my bills without additional consultation.

In hindsight, this rookie mistake was silly. I am mature enough to admit that. At the time though, I believed that I was fulfilling a campaign promise to hit the ground running.

Rep. Moore apparently wasn’t aware of this website, which lists every bill beginning on the day it is dropped into its chamber’s hopper. His fellow legislators, the press and citizens refer to it regularly to learn about new bills.

He continued:

Based on what happened last Friday, I request that anyone who has an issue with any bill from any member…please give that member a chance to act to remove the bill before going to the media or signing up to go to the Well against it.

A chance that I was not given.

The time to ask for feedback on an upcoming bill is while it is being drafted. Once it is dropped, it is too late. There is no evidence Rep. Moore discussed the bill with anyone other than Legislative Counsel prior to dropping the bill. Legislative Counsel doesn’t give political advice.

Moore concluded his speech with these words:

I have politely declined all advice to use this speech to rouse my political opponents. Instead, I would rather this be the first step of a second chance. Please allow me to take it, and please take it with me.

‘Political opponents’ is an interesting choice of words. Rep. Moore used the phrase several times during his speech. When I looked at his website just now, it says he’s a Republican. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t referring to the members of the Democratic caucus in his speech.

From what I have learned about Sam Moore, he’s not the type to go along to get along. And that’s good. But, legislating is a team sport. His choice of words indicates he may be on a very small team. Unless he is willing to reach out to other members of the legislature, his ideas for reform–some of which very much deserve consideration–won’t get very far.

Making the arguments for liberty

Since I wrote my open letter to State Rep. Sam Moore, I’ve been called a “statist” and “patsy” as well as being accused of doing the bidding of the Georgia GOP establishment. Those of you who’ve gotten to know me since I began writing at Peach Pundit in 2006 will no doubt find some humor in the silly comments from those who are a little more than upset with me for speaking out.

As I wrote yesterday, in order to have a discussion about liberty-based ideas, we have to make an arguments for them. Dropping a piece of legislation in the hopper and crying “liberty” isn’t going to convince 178 other legislators to suddenly say, “Yes! Liberty!!!” I wish that were the case, but it’s not the world in which we live. The system isn’t going to change overnight, especially when a couple of legislators keep giving the establishment excuses to marginalize us, no matter how unfair that may be.

For those who are truly interested in moving the ball forward, step-by-step, you need only look at two liberty-minded Republicans who have helped change the conversation, not just inside the GOP, but also the national discussion. Read more

The Death First Code

“All that we have to do is to send two mujahedeen to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al Qaeda, in order to make generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses without their achieving anything of note other than some benefits for their private corporations.” – Osama Bin Laden, October 2004 tape.

“I never thought I would see that a president would act in direct defiance of federal law by authorizing warrantless NSA surveillance of American citizens. This disrespect for the law is not only wrong, it is destructive in our struggle against terrorism.” – Eric Holder, June 2008 speech before the American Constitution Society.

“… (W)e have to make sure that we understand, as I’ve said in many speeches, that there’s not a tension between respecting our great tradition of civil liberties and having very effective law enforcement and anti-terror tools. There’s a false choice, I think, that is often presented.” – Eric Holder, January 2009 Senate confirmation hearings.

“You can’t have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience,” Obama said. “We’re going to have to make some choices as a society. … There are trade-offs involved.” – President Barack Obama, Friday.

“If it comes to a choice between risking my life and losing my essential liberties, I’ll risk my life.” – the Death First Code.

Read more

Don’t Treat A Dragon*Con Boycott Like A Fantasy

(Update at the end.) I have a Fiend Folio in a trunk in my basement, along with hexagonal graph paper, 20-sided dice and pewter miniatures. I’m a recovering hard-core Dungeons & Dragons nerd.

This confession made, know that I follow the tribulations of Dragon*Con closely, which faces growing calls for a boycott because one of its founders and principal shareholders faces serious serial child molestation charges. But you don’t have to roll 20’s to find the political and economic threads of the case fascinating.

Ed Kramer has been able to delay trial in Gwinnett County since his initial arrest in August of 2000 on charges of molesting two teenage brothers during sleepovers at his house earlier that summer. Kramer has been using the proceeds from his one-third ownership stake in Dragon*Con to fuel his tortuous legal defense.

“This case has been called for trial no less than 12 times for trial and each time, Kramer has had a reason for delay all the while screaming about his speedy trial rights,” said Gwinnett County district attorney Danny Porter in an email.

Supposedly on house arrest for medical conditions, Kramer was nonetheless caught in a Connecticut hotel in September 2011 with a 14-year-old boy with whom he was apparently filming a horror movie, in violation of the no-contact terms of the court. Georgia extradited him in January.

Kramer has since filed more than 200 requests for accommodation of his physical handicaps and religious restrictions along with various grievances since his return to a Gwinnett County jail cell. Porter has pretty much had it and is arguing that Kramer’s medical condition isn’t legitimate – that he’s faking it to delay trial.

Horror writer Nancy Collins, who is spearheading the boycott, reminded me in a phone call Tuesday that one of Ed Kramer’s principal attorneys has been none other than Bob Barr, former congressman, current Republican candidate for the 11th district U.S. House seat currently occupied by Phil Gingrey, and semi-recovering libertarian. Barr and Kramer go way back. Barr has been working for Kramer since at least 2007. Meanwhile, Kramer has political roots in the science-fiction libertarian movement. Read more

The Next Peach Pundit Roadshow — Manuel’s Tavern on Monday, March 26 at 6 PM

Join us for the next Peach Pundit Roadshow this coming Monday.  The General Assembly will likely adjourn a few days later, thus enabling our annual “Peach Pundit Pre-Post Session Roadshow.

The location will be Manuel’s Tavern and will start at 6 PM Monday, March 26th. The address: 602 N Highland Avenue Northeast, Atlanta.

Manuel’s is arguably Atlanta’s most famous political tavern hangout and headquarters. Regardless of your political affiliation, Manuel’s is truly an Atlanta institution worthy of your beer money.

A short history of Manuel’s Tavern:

Read more

Georgia Libertarians to host presidential debate

The Libertarian Party of Georgia will host its annual convention on Saturday, February 25th in Athens at the Georgia Center on the campus of the University of Georgia. The day will include some great speakers, including Brian Brawdy, Page Pate, Rich Sullivan, and Jeff Edgens. Package information and details are available here. The business session is free, of course.

LP Georgia will also host a presidential debate, moderated by Sharon Harris of the Advocates for Self-Government, at 3:30pm on the day of the convention. While all candidates seeking the party’s nomination have been invited, here are the confirmed participants:

The Libertarian Party’s nominee will be chosen at the national convention in Las Vegas in May.

God and Country

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The photo above shows the church where I exercise my First Amendment right to worship as I am called to. On April 15, 2009, many of us gathered at the Georgia State Capitol under the protection of our right to assemble. Most weekdays in January through April we may petition the legislative branch of our state government. And on this blog, as well as other place online and off, we exercise our rights to free speech and to publish opinions and information that the government may not like.

(Before you say it, SOGTP, the Supreme Court held in Gitlow v . New York that the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution extends the protections of the First Amendment to the states. Love it or hate it, I don’t make the rules.)

I’ve written here recently about the pitched battle between Atlanta Progressive News and the Atlanta City Council.

Now, the Fulton County Daily Report is covering the actions of the City of Atlanta Law Department as it sought and received in Fulton County Superior Court a prior restraint (subscription required) against APN’s publication of the infamous memoranda.
Read more

Feds Sue Former Candidate Michael Rothenberg for Securities Fraud

The AJC reports today on a lawsuit by the Securities and Exchange Commission against Michael Rothenberg, who ran unsuccessfully for DeKalb Superior Court in 2010.

The SEC complaint appears to originate with the same transaction that birthed a federal lawsuit against Rothenberg just before the December 2011 runoff election.

The SEC alleges that Rothenberg transferred $169,o00 of money from defrauded investors to his campaign account. In November, the Fulton Daily Report noted Rothenberg denying having transferred the funds in questions to his campaign.

Read more