Posted: 10:22 am Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014
By Greg Bluestein, Daniel Malloy and Jim Galloway
U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ranger, is siding with the airline industry in what could be a nasty fight with the people who buy their tickets.
Graves is the third signature on the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014, which passed a House committee mark-up earlier this month. The bill would force the U.S. Department of Transportation to retreat from a regulation requiring that the prices of tickets include all taxes and added fees.
“The cost of airline tickets will never be transparent as long as the Department of Transportation requires airlines to hide taxes, surcharges, and fees from consumers. In fact, this regulation means airlines may unfairly shoulder the blame for price increases, even if it’s a government tax hike that’s responsible.”
Consumer advocates, who pushed through the bundling requirement several years ago, disagree. From USA Today:
Businesses regulated at the federal level and facing similar taxes to airlines — notably gas — must quote a complete price, including all taxes, they point out. Airlines are exempt from state and local taxes, which means they can’t be compared with most other consumer purchases, say critics of the proposed law. And they note that airlines are free to break down their taxes and fees after quoting an initial, all-inclusive price.
In short, the bill would dupe us into thinking fares are cheaper than they are. “It is all about making airfares less transparent,” says Paul Hudson, president of FlyersRights.org. “The name of the bill is just the start of the false advertising.”
Kevin Mitchell, chairman of the Business Travel Coalition, doesn’t mince words: “It’s a terrible bill on every level.”
Supporters of state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, received an unusual email from him on Monday. Call it an anti-campaign message.
“[F]or the first time in eight years, I have a primary opponent,” Peake wrote. “So, normally, I would be sending an email asking for donations for my campaign.”
But Peake said he considers himself in a “strong financial position” for his re-election. By which he meant he had $131,801.83 in the bank as of March 31.
“So, I’m going to make an unusual request – don’t donate to my campaign right now, but if you have the resources, I’m asking to give to the Journey of Hope Fund,” he continued.
This is the non-profit group established to help Georgia families with travel and living expenses to move to Colorado to obtain cannabis oil for their children with seizure disorders. Peake sponsored the medicinal marijuana bill that failed in this year’s session of the Legislature.
ProPublica has a deep look at why Congress does not allow the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta to study gun violence. It leads with an apparent turnabout from Jack Kingston:
For nearly 20 years, Congress has pushed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to steer clear of firearms violence research. As chairman of the appropriations subcommittee that traditionally sets CDC funding, Kingston has been in a position to change that. Soon after Sandy Hook, Kingston said he had spoken to the head of the agency. “I think we can find some common ground,” Kingston said.
More than a year later, as Kingston competes in a crowded Republican primary race for a U.S. Senate seat, the congressman is no longer talking about common ground.
In a statement to ProPublica, Kingston said he would oppose a proposal from President Obama for $10 million in CDC gun research funding. “The President’s request to fund propaganda for his gun-grabbing initiatives though the CDC will not be included in the FY2015 appropriations bill,” Kingston said.
U.S. Rep. Paul Broun has picked up a Senate race endorsement from Special Operations Speaks PAC, the group that organized a protest against National Park Service barriers at the World War Two memorial during the government shutdown.
Said retired Air Force Col. Dick Brauer, co-founder of the group: “We have no doubt he will go to the Senate and demand answers on Benghazi.”
Former Dalton Mayor David Pennington’s hijacked “major announcement” last week forced him to take a step he wasn’t quite expecting: A pledge to release five years of past tax returns.
Yet Pennington’s decision, forced in part after questioning by Gov. Nathan Deal’s attorney, also raised questions about whether the governor would do the same.
Deal told us on Monday that he would, indeed, release his tax returns as the campaign heats up. He said he released decades of tax statements ahead of his 2010 election and will “follow the same pattern” this time around.
State schools superintendent John Barge, another GOP contender, also sent word Monday through his chief of staff that he will release three years of his tax statements. (There’s not much to see, we’re promised.)
We still haven’t heard from the campaign of Democrat Jason Carter, but we’ll update when we do.
A similar challenge has already become a mini-drama in the Senate race, with three Republicans releasing their tax returns but businessman David Perdue, a former Fortune 500 chief executive worth millions, so far unwilling to do so.
We missed this the other day, but businessman Eugene Yu is the first on the air in the 12th District GOP race to face John Barrow. It’s a bio spot:
Republican Karen Handel fired off a new attack today against her most bitter rival that asks “who is the real David Perdue?”
It questions his business record and his role on the board of Alliant Energy. Says campaign manager Corry Bliss: “How can we trust David to keep his promises in office if he can’t keep them now?”
Our AJC colleague Jeremy Redmon reports that Landmark Communications and Rosetta Stone Communications on Monday released a self-assigned poll showing Barry Loudermilk and Bob Barr in a statistical tie for the 11th District congressional race – but with Loudermilk in the lead.
Loudermilk, a former state senator from Cassville, registered support from 25 percent of likely Republican primary voters in the district, which stretches from Atlanta to Bartow and Cherokee counties.
Barr, the former congressman, received 23 percent; Tricia Pridemore, an entrepreneur from Marietta, won 11 percent; and state Rep. Ed Lindsey of Buckhead got 8 percent.
The poll surveyed 500 likely GOP primary voters in the district on April 17. The poll’s margin of error is 4.5 percentage points.
Landmark’s Mark Rountree said the two firms conducted the poll on their own volition. “It wasn’t paid for by anybody,” he said.
The poll could tempt both Lindsey and Pridemore to view Barr as the candidate who stands between them and a runoff berth following the May 20 primary. But Barr’s campaign manager/son said the poll is “not something to worry about.”
“The Barr campaign has conducted our own polling, and it shows us with a comfortable lead,” the younger Barr said.
Mere geography can make so much difference in how a message is perceived. A reader sent us the following work of campaign art that she saw on a Facebook page for a Forsyth County homeowners association, touting Mike William’s GOP primary challenge against state Sen. Jack Murphy, R-Cumming.
“He is one of us” is merely a statement of solidarity in most places. But in Forsyth County, from which African-Americans were once expelled, it can mean something entirely different.
The ad, in fact, is not the work of the Williams campaign, said spokesman and manager Seth Weathers.
“If I’m going to pay for a campaign ad, it’s going to make sense,” he said. The ad is the unauthorized work of a Williams supporter – who was out to underline Williams’ membership in the homeowners association, Weathers said.
“There’s no ill intent behind it,” Weathers said.
About the Authors
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He joined the newspaper in June 2012.
Daniel Malloy is the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington Correspondent, covering the Georgia Congressional delegation and other D.C. goings-on that affect the state since 2011. He's a zealous fan and proud graduate of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.