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Greg Bluestein

It begins: Super PAC attacks Michelle Nunn on Obamacare

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Expect to see quite a bit of the above for the next seven months: A Republican-allied Super PAC is airing television ads starting today attacking Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn over Obamacare.

Ending Spending is the group, and it was founded by Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts to be a conservative-backed group in the spirit of the Koch brothers’ empire. Its donors include Newt Gingrich patron and casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

The Wall Street Journal reports this to be a modest television buy of $150,000. That’s modest compared to Americans for Prosperity, anyway, which is dumping millions on Senate races across the country, not including Georgia so far.

The Ending Spending ad drops as the wide-open Republican nomination heats up, but also as tax season is in high gear. The ad addresses the IRS penalty for those who do not sign up for insurance.

The Nunn campaign struck back by rebutting some of the ad’s assertions.

In response to the statement that Nunn “supports Obamacare,” her campaign points to statements where she said she wants to “fix” the law, including a delay of the insurance mandate penalty. Also the ad accuses Nunn of being in favor of higher taxes, but Nunn says she wants “revenue neutral” reforms to the tax code.

“These ads are exactly the type of dishonest attacks Georgians have come to expect from our broken political system,” said Nunn spokesman Nathan Click.Your daily jolt on politics from the AJC's Political insider blog

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In related news, healthcare.gov broke down again on deadline day for Obamacare open enrollment, but the administration said its sign-up goal was in sight.

From the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON — Beating expectations, President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul was on track to sign up more than 7 million Americans for health insurance on deadline day Monday, government officials told the Associated Press.

The 7 million target, thought to be out of reach by most experts, was in sight on a day that saw surging consumer interest as well as vexing computer glitches that slowed sign-ups on the HealthCare.gov website.

Two government officials confirmed the milestone, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter ahead of an official announcement.

Seven million was the original target set by the Congressional Budget Office for enrollment in taxpayer-subsidized private health insurance through new online markets created under Obama’s signature legislation.

That was scaled back to 6 million after the disastrous launch of HealthCare.gov last fall. Several state-run websites also had crippling problems.

For AJC subscribers, Misty Williams has the scene in Georgia:

Lithia Springs resident Kevin Darity was one of scores of people rushing to meet that deadline who showed up to get help from health insurance “navigators” — workers specially trained to guide insurance shoppers through the process — during an enrollment drive at World Changes Church International in College Park.

Darity, 53, a father of five who works in home construction, went without health insurance for 16 years. He said he searched for individual plans in the private market but couldn’t afford the $300 to $500 monthly premiums he was quoted.

On Monday, however, Darity signed up for a silver plan that covers him, his domestic partner and two of their children for less than $100 a month after federal tax credits are factored in.

“It’s such a relief,” Darity said of having health insurance. “You don’t have to sit around and suffer and hope it doesn’t turn out worse that it is.”

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We have our first ethics complaint in the governor’s race, and the target is not who you might expect.

James Stein of St. Marys lodged his complaint last week claiming that former Dalton Mayor David Pennington failed to file his financial disclosure within seven days of qualifying like the law required.

Pennington qualified to run in the GOP primary against Gov. Nathan Deal on March 11, a day after stepping down as Dalton’s mayor. State records show he filed his disclosure just before midnight on March 19, but there wasn’t much to it. In fact, it had the insurance executive’s assets at $1 and his net worth at $0. When pressed on that at the time, his campaign promised an update, and the next day an amended version was posted.

Pennington’s campaign said in a statement that the document was filed on time and it was working with the ethics commission to resolve the matter.

“I see this as a case of technical glitches with the state (ethics) website,” said David Allen, a campaign spokesman.

Update at 1:30 p.m.: Pennington’s campaign has agreed to pay a $125 fine after a round of calls with the ethics agency. Allen, the Pennington aide, said the ethics website is “glitchy” but there’s no way to prove he filed the documents on time.

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In the final days of the legislative session, rumors abounded that a jilted lawmaker upset over the stalled proposal to create a new city of Lakeside would take to the well and name names. That didn’t exactly happen, but now a former lawmaker has.

Kevin Levitas, the former state representative who headed the effort to forge Lakeside, wrote a scathing column over at zpolitics blaming GOP infighting for the failure.  The title, “A Snake in the Meadows,” speaks for itself.

Levitas, the son of a former congressman, calls out DeKalb commissioner Elaine Boyer, state Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, CEO Lee May and gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter. But he reserves the harshest words for state Rep. John Meadows, the chair of the powerful House Rules Committee who was no fan of the proposal. From the column:

The tale of how one person—a former mayor from a small county in the northwest corner of Georgia—could kill the opportunity for cityhood for tens of thousands of DeKalb residents is instructive about what is so very wrong with the political process in our country.  The sad and bizarre story of Mayor Meadows’s usurpation of local control is strong anecdotal evidence of why tea parties began and why Republicans observers find it increasingly difficult to tell a difference between politicians with R’s and D’s after their names at the state Capitol.

I didn’t really know much about the city of Calhoun until Mayor Meadows made that geography relevant to me and to my DeKalb neighbors a week or so ago—when he destroyed our chance, a chance for Democrats, Independents and Republicans, to vote on self-determination for our community.

I now wonder, however, how folks from Calhoun would feel if people from DeKalb started redrawing Calhoun’s city lines—or simply decommissioned the city entirely.  They might rightly demand: “What in the [heck] business is that of yours?!”  We in DeKalb would, of course, be wrong to interfere in Calhoun’s local business, just as it was wrong of Mayor Meadows to team up with veteran lobbyists, Democrats and a few gullible Republicans to decide the fate of DeKalb citizens by killing its city-hood bill.

What a dangerous legislative precedent Mayor Meadows set when he decided to intervene in the business of other officials’ local areas.  It’s a new day under the Gold Dome, and Mayor Meadows and his comrades-in-arms among the high-paid lobbyists and in the Democrat Party are simply ecstatic.  He has done an incomparable job of increasing the stock of both latter groups—and just in time for the fall elections.

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Walter Jones of Morris News Service snagged an interview with Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who told him that he didn’t think political machinations were behind the delay in federal funding to deepen Savannah’s port.

Instead, Chambliss said, he sees it as a result of overzealous bureaucrats. Said Chambliss: “I really don’t see any way that you could point to this and say it was a political decision.”

That’s quite a contrast from the rhetoric we’ve seen in the governor’s race and the GOP contest for the Senate seat Chambliss will soon vacate.

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Channel 2 Action News has the scoop on an armed robbery of one of Michelle Nunn’s campaign staffers near her Midtown office. Police have arrested two 16-year-old suspects.

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Georgians can now register to vote online and on their phones, via a new system rolled out Monday by Secretary of State Brian Kemp. A how-to from Kristina Torres:

April 21 is the deadline to register to vote in Georgia’s May 20 primary. Anyone can confirm his or her voter status online through the Georgia secretary of state’s website (www.sos.ga.gov). If you haven’t already, here’s how to register:

 

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Another black eye for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Augusta has arrived via the Washington NBC station and former Cox DC Bureau reporter Scott MacFarlane:

Veterans Affairs Department financial manager Jed Fillingim was involved in a deadly incident while traveling on business for the agency in 2010.

Police and federal investigators found Fillingim drove a government truck after drinking with two colleagues at a bar near Dallas while attending a June 2010 conference for federal employees. One of the two colleagues, Mississippi-based VA employee Amy Wheat, who had also been drinking that night, fell out of the truck while it was moving and died. …

Though he resigned from his position with the agency’s Jackson, Miss., medical center five months later, the News4 I-Team has learned Fillingim was rehired in March 2011 and has since assumed a high-level managerial position in Augusta, Ga., earning more than $100,000 per year.

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Running in the 11th Congressional District, Georgia House Majority Whip Ed Lindsey has an unusual request for the Federal Election Commission: He wants to support other Gold Dome allies in his own advertisements.

The rules say he can’t give more than $2,600 to state candidates, and a mention in a TV ad could be an in-kind gift of much more than that.

So why would Lindsey want to call out his House mates? His consultant Joel McElhannon said Lindsey wants to talk about all of their accomplishments during the session.

“I would note though that there are many interesting lessons from this past legislative session,” McElhannon wrote in an email. “One is that some cut and run when the time for action arrives.”

That would be a reference to Lindsey foe Barry Loudermilk, who resigned his state Senate seat to campaign full-time.

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Last night was the deadline for political candidates to raise money before the latest reporting period ends, and many of us received more than a few impassioned pleas for odd dollar figures.

Here’s one of our favorite reactions to the increasingly desperate requests:

 

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