Posted: 5:12 pm Thursday, April 24th, 2014
By Greg Bluestein
Gov. Nathan Deal played matchmaker to arrange the hiring of Chip Rogers last year to a six-figure gig at Georgia Public Broadcasting. His office’s fingerprints were all over his departure, too.
Rogers, once one of the most influential Republicans in Georgia, parted ways with GPB last week. Emails obtained through an Open Records request hint at what precipitated the move.
Chris Riley, the governor’s chief of staff, said in an April 17 note he received an anonymous email at his personal account with a link that showed Rogers was also holding down an outside job as government affairs guru for the Asian American Hotel Owners Association.
“This is the flyer we discussed this am,” he said in an email sent to COO Bart Gobeil around 10 a.m. that morning. He added: “I am not sure of the validity of the information so it will need to be verified but I thought Teya should be made aware,” a reference to GPB president Teya Ryan.
It should be noted that his outside work was common knowledge in political circles. This July 2012 AJC story mentions Rogers’ role as the “public face” of the hotel group.
Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said in a statement that the governor’s office had no knowledge of Rogers’ work.
“We were unaware of outside employment and we acted immediately to inform GPB once we learned of it,” said Robinson.
Gobeil, who had an 8 a.m. call that morning with Ryan on his calendar, responded a few minutes later that he “brought this to her attention” and that she will “review and take immediate appropriate action.”
That action, which Rogers confirmed, led to his split with the station. The former state Senate Majority Leader, who once called the GPB gig (which had a taxpayer-funded salary of $150,000) a “dream job,” told us in a statement over the weekend that he was focused on the future.
“I enjoyed my time with GPB,” Rogers said in the statement. “Our show had great ratings and my blog was the most widely read on the site. I look forward to my next challenge and wish the best for everyone at GPB.”
But the move may have been brewing for at least a month. Lawmakers in March redirected funds dedicated to GPB’s economic development television division to ventures that promote a “wide variety” of projects. The governor’s office often has a say in these late additions.
GPB still hasn’t returned calls seeking comment. But that aforementioned Rogers blog has been taken down.