Posted: 5:00 pm Friday, April 18th, 2014
By Greg Bluestein
Former state Sen. Chip Rogers, who was given a cushy job and a six-figure salary at Georgia Public Broadcasting after leaving office, is on his way out after little more than a year at the station.
Three people with knowledge of the situation tell us that Rogers, who was making a lofty $150,000 as an executive producer on an economic development program, is being let go. Rogers didn’t return several calls seeking comment and GPB executives didn’t return repeated calls throughout the day.
One person with direct knowledge of the situation said Rogers was “blindsided” by the news when he was told Friday.
Rogers’ position, like others at GPB, was paid solely through state taxpayers’ money and he was paid more than several higher-ranking executives.
Rogers was first elected to the Legislature in 2002 and rose to be one of the Senate’s most visible GOP leaders, championing an immigration crackdown. He resigned in December 2012 to take what he called a “dream” job with GPB that built on his background as a former television and radio reporter.
He stepped down from office after a series of missteps, including a failed bank loan and public disclosure of Rogers’ work for a sports gambling network. GPB President Teya Ryan said at the time that it was a trial run, but it drew considerable fire from critics who said it smacked of cronyism.
Rogers, for his part, soon settled into the role as the director of the station’s Georgia Works initiative where he posted frequent blogs about economic development programs. He also held down a side job as a lobbyist for the Asian American Hotel Owners Association.
An ominous sign for Rogers came in March when state lawmakers added language in the budget that seemed aimed at his gig. It redirected funds dedicated to GPB’s economic development television division to ventures that promote a “wide variety” of projects.
Democrats and their allies linked Rogers’ sudden firing to upcoming elections. Better Georgia said in a statement that Gov. Nathan Deal, whose office declined comment, was behind both the hiring and the firing.
“What a shame that Gov. Deal forced Georgia taxpayers to pay for this,” the group said.