Posted: 9:50 am Monday, April 7th, 2014

Friday’s verdict just the beginning of trial trouble for Nathan Deal 

By Jim Galloway, Greg Bluestein and Daniel Malloy

Over the weekend, it became more than obvious that one of Gov. Nathan Deal’s most daunting tasks this year is the drumbeat of ethics-related trials he’ll have to cope with in the run-up to the May primary and November general election.

Fallout from the verdict in the Stacey Kalberman trial will be challenging enough for the Deal camp.

Your daily jolt on politics from the AJC's Political insider blogWe’ve already seen the governor distance himself from Friday’s verdict and deny even monitoring the Kalberman case from afar. We also expect Democrat Jason Carter to use some of the $1.6 million in his campaign piggy bank to launch constant reminders of the trial – and whatever comes next – the governor’s way.

But two other lawsuits are in the offing, from former ethics commission staffers Sherilyn Streicker and John Hair, with claims strikingly similar to Kalberman’s. If emboldened by Kalberman’s victory, at least one other former employee could soon seek a court date.

Suddenly, the cases seem a lot more winnable. Jurors we talked to after the Kalberman case called the testimony remarkably cut-and-dry — and not much time was required to reach a unanimous verdict. A few openly questioned why it was even brought to trial in the first place.

This sets up an interesting dilemma for Attorney General Sam Olens, a Republican often mentioned as a candidate for governor in 2018. Olens will now face the question of whether to settle the other cases (and blunt some of the negative media attention for Deal) or bring them to court in the hopes of pulling out a victory.

That’s if the jilted ex-staffers even want to settle.

The situation makes it somewhat ironic that on Saturday, the day after the Kalberman verdict, the Deal campaign issued email invitations to a May 17 event — the fourth annual “Grilling with the Governor” at Lake Lanier.

***

U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey, a GOP candidate for Senate who hasn’t figured at the top of the polls lately, is letting his hand show. The Marietta congressman apparently will be counting on a metro Atlanta base of support to win him a berth in a July runoff. We’re told that, beginning next week through the May 20 primary, Gingrey plans to drop nearly $725,000 on TV ads in the Atlanta market.

Right now, many of you are doing the calculations – and figuring out that this isn’t a huge amount when spaced over five weeks. That’s true. Gingrey could pony up more if things start to move his way, clearly. And remember that the certainty of a runoff requires an optimistic candidate to hold back rather than go all in.

***

Former state GOP chair Sue Everhart has put her name to a Karen Handel fundraising email this morning that focuses on David Perdue’s highlighting of his rival’s lack of formal education. It includes these lines:

When David Perdue called Karen Handel the “high school graduate,” he demeaned every Georgian who did not have the opportunity to go to college and showed just how out-of-touch he is with the people and values of our great state….

Like no other candidate in this race, Karen understands the needs of hardworking Georgians. She has walked in our shoes. She knows what it’s like to make your way in the world with the odds stacked against you. She knows that determination, hard work, and commonsense are the real keys to success – not a life of privilege.

***

Michelle Nunn opened the Macon field office for her Democratic run for U.S. Senate on Sunday. She’s to be working the Marietta Square today.

***
This week, U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville, has a budget bill on the floor that is a bit wonky but could be important to how Congress’ nonpartisan budget referee goes about its business. One of our number explains:

***

The Dalton Daily quotes former mayor David Pennington, one of Gov. Nathan Deal’s two Republican challengers, as saying that production begins this week on his first TV ads – which should start running the last week of April or the first week of May.

***
We were at the Atlanta offices of U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson recently. The senator had already walked us to the elevator when he remembered something that required a witness. Isakson walked us to the office next door to his, and flung open the door. It was his 2016 campaign office, up and running with real people inside. Just in case anyone doubted his intentions.

***
The Right Rev. Rob Wright, the Episcopal bishop of Atlanta, asked roughly 600 congregants attending a confirmation service on Sunday to take out their smart phones and consider signing a petition that calls on Gov. Nathan Deal to veto HB 990, the measure that would put Medicaid expansion in the hands of the Legislature.

Wright plans to be part of a group that will attempt to deliver those petitions to Deal at the Governor’s Mansion this afternoon.

***
On Saturday, Kerwin Swint, the Kennesaw State University political scientist, moderated the 11th District congressional debate sponsored by Cobb County’s Young Republican chapter. Here’s the assessment he gave Jon Gillooly of the Marietta Daily Journal:

“If you were looking for thoughtful answers, stuff that’s not just canned in a box, I thought Barry Loudermilk did a good job of answering the questions in a thoughtful way, putting forth ideas that aren’t focus-grouped and ballot-tested and all that,” Swint said. “I thought Tricia Pridemore did a good job, too, of answering the questions in a thoughtful way. If you were looking for red meat, it was Bob Barr. And Ed Lindsey did a little bit of both. He had some red meat in there, but I think he had some interesting things to say, too.”

As for whom Swint believes won the evening: “If I was an unattached voter and just was coming in trying to learn, I would probably go with Loudermilk, but that’s just an off-the-cuff reaction,” he said.

***

Consider these paragraphs from a piece a few days ago by Doyle McManus of the Los Angeles Times, on the declining influence of the Christian right:

The shifts in public sentiment have led Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention to draw an arresting conclusion: Contrary to what an earlier generation believed, there’s no “moral majority” in America today, and never was. “There was a Bible Belt illusion of a Christian America that never existed,” Moore told journalists at a conference sponsored by the Ethics and Public Policy Center last week. “The illusion of a moral majority is no longer sustainable.”

…Moore is no liberal; he believes in the literal truth of the Bible, and he abhors abortion and gay marriage. But he’s a realist. “We need to recognize where the country is,” he said.

For example, he said, attempts to put marriage amendments in state constitutions would be “a politically ridiculous thing to do right now.” Instead, evangelicals should focus on issues of religious liberty, such as whether Christian-owned businesses can be required to offer their services for gay weddings.

***

The Camp David accord between Egypt and Israel, mediated by then-President Jimmy Carter, has become a stage play in D.C. Richard “John-boy” Thomas plays Carter:

83 comments
tomkat1111
tomkat1111

I wonder how long the movers and shakers in Ga politics will continue to carry Shady Deal ? He must be getting  heavy and hard to carry right about now.

memsmovement
memsmovement

One thing I ask of Deal supporters: please do not ever complain about a Democrat politician being corrupt. Ever. If GOP voters prioritize conservative ideology over ethics, please do not begrudge Democrats who do the same. 

styymy
styymy

Haha, Nathan Deal lies more than Obama. Swallow that medicine GA voters, you voted for this.

memsmovement
memsmovement

"The Right Rev. Rob Wright, the Episcopal bishop of Atlanta, asked roughly 600 congregants attending a confirmation service on Sunday to take out their smart phones and consider signing a petition that calls on Gov. Nathan Deal to veto HB 990, the measure that would put Medicaid expansion in the hands of the Legislature."

Whatever happened to separation between church and state? Oh, I forgot. That only applies to conservative religious political activism. The same reason why it is just fine for Warren Buffett, George Soros, Silicon Valley and Hollywood wealthy to underwrite liberal political campaigns but the Koch brothers are so evil. 

CherokeeCounty
CherokeeCounty

The Right Rev. Rob Wright, the Episcopal archbishop of Atlanta, asked roughly 600 congregants attending a confirmation service on Sunday to take out their smart phones and consider signing a petition that calls on Gov. Nathan Deal to veto HB 990, the measure that would put Medicaid expansion in the hands of the Legislature.

Very nice to hear about a minister who actually follows the teachings of Jesus Christ.

td1234
td1234

Very good article on the personal wealth of all the candidates running for Governor. Notice how much Deal's wealth has increased in the past 4 years.


To my Democrat friends notice that Barge is the closest, actually is, an average Georgia citizen. Democrats seem to always complain how we never have leadership that reflects how the average person lives. Well here is your chance Democrats to put your vote where you mouth is. 


http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/apr/2/reports-detail-finances-of-gov-deal-opponents/

coj
coj

Is Deal's teflon starting to wear off?

DS
DS

Jurors we talked to after the Kalberman case called the testimony remarkably cut-and-dry — and not much time was required to reach a unanimous verdict.

I think that, if more voters were aware of the actual sworn testimony from the trial last week, Deal would be done. His only chance is to hope that enough voters remain uninformed.

MoFaux
MoFaux

So busting my arse through high school in order to get into Georgia Tech, and paying for it through student loans makes me "privileged"?  Did Sue Everhart even graduate from middle school?  Sorry, but EVERYONE has an opportunity to go to college.  EVERYONE.

honested
honested

I guess this is quite a conundrum for the Georgia Executive branch.


An unethical governor unable to hide his behavior any more and an incompetent Attorney General who missed the boat long ago on reining it in.


Get used to saying 'Governor Carter' early!

Retired-Soldier
Retired-Soldier

JI is the next "republican" that needs to go home after a real conservative sends Johnny packing. 2016, time for a new senator and a new president.

Retired-Soldier
Retired-Soldier

DP is like that long shot horse that hangs back until the final stretch and then out sprints the favorite to the finish line. Don't be surprised to see Deal with his "walking papers" the night of May 20.

dhjm
dhjm

@memsmovement Nobody is preventing the Koch brothers from saying anything.  They're evil because they're attempting to buy the government, and they're evil because they support policies that hurt a lot of people so they can make more money.  But they are free to say whatever they want.

td1234
td1234

@CherokeeCounty  Medicaid should not be expanded in Georgia because Georgia can not afford it without taking more money away from Education. Education is a much better investment. 

ElemennoP
ElemennoP

@td1234


How much has Obama's wealth gone up in the past 5 years?

DS
DS

@td1234  Good article. Thanks for sharing.

honested
honested

@td1234  

That article would require me to read the washington times, which might reduce my IQ by 30 points, so no thanks.

memsmovement
memsmovement

@coj  


Deal never had Teflon. He has been in political trouble since the day that he was elected, which explains his rapid-response, knee-jerk, sometimes pandering as well as betraying his own ideology (like his rushing to spend half a billion on increasing teacher salaries when the budget is still tight, and his ending the toll on Georgia 400 after flip-flopping on the T-SPLOST, which he continued to secretly hope to pass right up until it failed). Deal's political precariousness has done nothing but hold the Georgia GOP back the past 4 years, keeping them from enacting a bold conservative agenda, which is basically David Pennington's entire impetus for running. Changing demographics in the state means that Georgia's ability to enact the type of bold conservative agenda that Jeb Bush did in Florida in the 1990s and Perry, Walker, Kasich and other conservative governors have in other states is just about to end, and the past 12 years have been wasted on a do-nothing Sonny Perdue (who actually undid some good center-right accomplishments by Roy Barnes in addition to doing nothing himself) and a compromised former Democrat Deal.


I personally want Deal to be re-elected because he would be much better for Atlanta than either Carter (who would be undermined by a hostile GOP legislature and would have his own re-election prospects to worry about) or the Tea Party Pennington. But if I were a movement conservative, I would have real misgivings over whether to vote for a guy who could actually enact my agenda but has little chance of getting elected (Pennington) or a guy who has a great chance of winning re-election but would do nothing to advance a conservative or Republican agenda because he is damaged goods (Deal). Since I care more about Atlanta than the GOP or conservatism, I don't have to make that choice (I can back Deal with a clear conscience because it would mean 4 more years of the Deal-Reed tag team bringing development into Atlanta in general and downtown specifically) but the GOPers and movement conservatives really have a tough choice on their hands. 

honested
honested

@DS  

It is a reasonable assumption that campaign spots will help spread awareness of the egregious behavior of both the Governor and his attorney.

coj
coj

@DS  That's pretty easy in Georgia. We have some of the most uninformed electorate in the nation.

Charles50
Charles50

@MoFaux  Yes, if they don't mind racking up student loan debt for years.  It may be available, but it's hardly free.  Even with scholarships there aren't enough for everyone who wants to attend college.  

ChessMaster
ChessMaster

@honested  The AG isn't incompetent. He is just Republican who knows he depends on the Governor to fund his agency.

Disgusted Voter
Disgusted Voter

@Retired-Soldier "Johnny" is not about to go packing in 2016! He will win handily with the votes of a lot of veterans and retired soldiers...including disabled veterans like me.  He has been good for us and if you can't realize that you are in a tiny minority.. Isakson is a real friend and now that the Afghan war is drawing to a close we need all the friends we can get in Congress. They forget about those who serve and begin to shaft us as usual. We need Johnny on the Veterans Affairs Committee in the Senate!

honested
honested

@Retired-Soldier  

How would a 'real conserrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrvative improve things?

The current definition of that word is apparently 'incompetent and unwilling to govern'.

td1234
td1234

@AprilMae  If the Democratic teachers and state employees will crossover in the primary and vote with the Republican teachers and State employees then Deal can be upset and sent to retirement. If they do not then Deal will be re-elected in the general election and all teachers and state employees can blame their Democratic co-workers for his re-election. If Deal does not get retired in the primary and wins re-election then I will be laughing my butt off for the next 4 years every time Deal does something to pay them back.

memsmovement
memsmovement

@Retired-Soldier @memsmovement  


Yeah. See down the thread. If I were a conservative or a GOPer, I would do exactly that. But I am an Atlanta resident, and a second Nathan Deal administration would be much better for the city of Atlanta than a Carter or Pennington administration. So I am going to vote selfishly, and urge other residents of Atlanta and south Fulton to do the same. Deal's personal ethics, while regrettable, do not affect me, Pennington getting elected and joining the Ed Lindsey-Jan Jones-Erhart crowd would be disastrous for the city and south Fulton. People who live elsewhere should select a candidate based on their own criteria. 

Retired-Soldier
Retired-Soldier

@dhjm @memsmovement They are no more trying to buy the government than Soros or others on the left. The policies they propose are bedrock solid policies that just may save this country from financial ruin.

DS
DS

@td1234 Yes, education is a great investment. But we don't have to choose between education or Medicaid expansion. We could easily do both.

Nathan Deal has said Georgia cannot afford Medicaid expansion, but that's not true. The net cost of expansion would be very modest and easily worked into the budget, without taking any money away from education. Check out what analysts from Georgia State, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute are telling us. 

Deal didn't decide against Medicaid expansion based upon the numbers. He can't, because it isn't even close. Medicaid expansion is a great deal, and easily affordable. He made his decision based upon political ideology, at the expense of the health and well-being of Georgians.

CherokeeCounty
CherokeeCounty

Actually td as has been amply demonstrated for you - if you cared - it's a net gain for Georgia.

td1234
td1234

@honested @td1234  If you chose to keep your head in the sand, not learn facts about all 4 candidates then so be it. 

td1234
td1234

@Charles50 @MoFaux  My son is getting almost all of his college paid for because he worked hard in HS and is taking advantage of the Zell Miller scholarship. 

coj
coj

@Charles50 @MoFaux  Back when Perdue went to college, many, many low and middle income folks went to college with loans and worked through school. We were far from privileged. Things are not the same anymore because college is a lot more expensive to attend and, now, only the privileged can afford it. 

DS
DS

@td1234 I think that's a good suggestion, td: cross-over and vote in the Republican primary to retire Deal, then vote for your preferred candidate in the general election.


Many Republicans helped Democrats retire Cynthia McKinney in 2002. (But then she came back briefly later.) Maybe it's time to return the favor.

ChessMaster
ChessMaster

@td1234 @AprilMae  You assume that all state employees and teachers are democrats. That's not true by a long shot. 

Disgusted Voter
Disgusted Voter

@td1234 @AprilMaeIf you are relying on the Democratic teachers to crossover in the primary to attempt to defeat Nathan Deal you are fooling yourself. Won't happen! Many of them don't even bother to vote but they sure howl loudly. Prepare to laugh your butt off after Deal wins the primary. The general election could be another story as Carter will be able to match Deal buck for buck. This is going to be interesting.

Eustis
Eustis

Are you saying a Democrat challenger would have a better chance against anyone but Deal?

I don't see many Democrats voting for a Republican in the general election.

Retired-Soldier
Retired-Soldier

@memsmovement @Retired-Soldier I am not from Atlanta and don't pick my candidates based on location. I try to pick the best and also the most conservative. Not sure why you think Pennington would be bad for Atlanta. We all know Atlanta is the economic engine that drives Georgia. What is good for Atlanta is good for Georgia and what is good for Georgia should be good for Atlanta.

Retired-Soldier
Retired-Soldier

@dhjm @Retired-Soldier@memsmovement The problem is you definition of the middle class. You think the middle class are those on food stamps, disability and receiving subsidies for Obama care. It used to be those were considered below middle class, having a temporary helping hand so they could attain middle class status. You and your like minded liberals seek a society where everyone is dependent on the government. That is not the American way.


Tell me where that system has worked? Americans were and should be self reliant. We have almost lost that trait and when it is gone, it will never return. 

dhjm
dhjm

@Retired-Soldier @dhjm@memsmovementNo.  They are policies that continue to make deluded, uninformed people continue to support policies that make the very few rich in this country continue to get richer at the expense of the middle class, which a) is the reason this country excelled over the last century, and b) is rapidly going extinct. 

dhjm
dhjm

@DS @td1234Which is why rational governors from other states, including Republican governors (e.g., Rick Snyder of Michigan) fought for Medicaid expansion.  It makes sense, it helps the citizens of the state.

MoFaux
MoFaux

@coj @Charles50 @MoFaux 100% untrue.  Ever heard of grants?  Hope?  Etc.?  Colleges are chock-full of both low and middle income folks.  If you think a $30,000 student loan won't pay huge dividends for an outstanding education (i.e. not an underwater basket-weaving, or liberal arts, degree), then you are a fool.  And Charles, who said anything about "free"?  If your definition of "not free" equates to being privileged, then I feel sorry for you.

There's nothing wrong with forgoing college...just don't expect to be elected into a high-profile position anywhere without a great deal of luck or connections.  Marketing yourself as "average" doesn't exactly help.  Who wants an "average" person making critically important decisions for our state?  Not me.

NOlongerRepublican
NOlongerRepublican

@td1234 @ChessMaster @AprilMae  You are an idiot TD if you think teachers are Democrats...just a plain stupid idiot. Every teacher I know votes straight Republican year after year. And I grew up in a household of school teachers and know tons of them.  Georgia teachers are very conservative and most do not stay in-step with the NEA and the GAE which lean Democratic. You also say there is no way Carter beats Deal, but I remember you saying there was no way Obama beats Romney...so your thoughts are

highly suspect.

AprilMae
AprilMae

@ChessMaster @td1234 @AprilMae  I am very well aware that people of various ideologies teach school and work for the state.


What I'm saying is that, as a state employee, I work with a lot of people who can't afford to go to the doctor or continue their prescriptions and need to.  My co-worker can't even get an ultrasound of her fetus because her out-of-pocket for labor & delivery is outrageous.  Regardless of political stripe, I think the majority of state employees (including teachers) know who did this to us and will vote accordingly.

td1234
td1234

@ChessMaster @td1234 @AprilMae  I know not all of them are Democrats (probably about 40 to 45%), Just the Republicans are not enough to defeat Deal in the primary. Teachers, state employees and retirees Democratic co-workers are the numbers that can push them over the top. 

Charles50
Charles50

@td1234 @honested  Because she's smart.  Why didn't people use George W. Bush during the 2008 campaign?  

Charles50
Charles50

@Disgusted Voter @td1234 @AprilMae  Most teachers don't vote?  Where did you get your stats?  Were they not the undoing of Barnes when he ran for re-election?  And one of the keys to a big turnout is a cause.  Deal has given Dems plenty of them.  

Disgusted Voter
Disgusted Voter

@td1234 @Disgusted VoterDeal beating Barnes was only one skunk replacing another. I admit Carter will have a hard time beating Deal because voters like me will have a hard time voting for him after his Grandpappy. Won't happen in the primary. Deal has too many dollars and primary turnouts are low. General election is the only chance to beat Deal. Hold your nose and vote!

td1234
td1234

@Disgusted Voter @td1234 @AprilMae  I am not fooling myself. I am giving the only plausible way of Deal being defeated. He can not be defeated in the General election in Georgia.  

td1234
td1234

@honested If Obama is not an albatross in Georgia then why is Michelle Nunn running ads being seen with Bush instead of Obama?  

honested
honested

@td1234 @Disgusted Voter 

You better start hoping that people are somehow unhappy with the ability to visit a physician and cover the costs. 

Hating the ACA is a losing proposition as it is in place and it works, much to the chagrin of those with no real alternate plan.

td1234
td1234

@Disgusted Voter Barnes had more money then Deal did 4 years ago and was defeated by 10 points. 


Deal had all these ethical charges against him 4 years ago and still won. 


Carter has the albatross of Obamacare and Obama around his neck and his efforts to turn the Hope scholarship from an award going to the best and brightest Georgia children to just another means tested program and he has a Constitutional Amendment to cap the state income tax that is going to ensure high Tea party voter turnout. 


Carter can not win. The primary is the only chance to get rid of Deal.   

td1234
td1234

@Eustis  If Democrats were smart then they would all vote for Barge so that Carter would have a huge money advantage in the General election. 

honested
honested

@Eustis  

That would require Georgia republicans to vote their own best interest.

Their failure to do so has gotten us into this mess and I don't see them realizing their errors anytime soon.

Eustis
Eustis

If that's the case, then Democrats should vote for Deal and figure enough Republicans that don't like him would vote for the Democratic candidate in the general election.

td1234
td1234

@Eustis  I am saying that Carter can not beat Deal in the general election (period). The only chance (small one) to get rid of Deal is for all teachers, state employees and retirees is to unite and vote in the Republican primary. If they do not then Deal will be re-elected and WILL seek revenge on all of them for raising the insurance battle during an election year and forcing him to spend $200 million to pacify them. 


If you do not believe he will not seek revenge then ask the Labor Commissioner or Dr. Barge what happens to Republicans that cross him.  

AprilMae
AprilMae

@Eustis  I think td is saying that any of the declared candidates will do a better job than Deal, so it's important to knock out his candidacy early.  That leaves us with 6 dangerous months in which he can "govern" without fear of losing an election (since he would have already), but I'm not sure how different that would be from what we're dealing with now.