Posted: 11:36 am Tuesday, May 6th, 2014
By Greg Bluestein, Daniel Malloy and Jim Galloway
John Stone, a Republican candidate for Congress, is aching to take on U.S. Rep. John Barrow, D-Augusta. He has little cash, but enough imagination to portray three of his GOP opponents as the Three Stooges in this TV ad:
Here’s the rock that Stone, a former broadcaster and congressional aide, threw at state lawmaker Delvis “Curley” Dutton, owner of a well-drilling company:
“Delvis Dutton has outstanding court judgments for over $600,000, including back taxes.”
There is every reason to believe that the above statement is true. But what Stone fails to mention is his own glass house. He’s visited federal bankruptcy court not once, but twice. Stone freely admitted having those financial blemishes on Monday:
“I do. Far in my past. Back in 2000, which is the whole point. We’ve got current members of our U.S. House who have bankruptcies in their past. A number of our district chairs here in Georgia with the Republican party have bankruptcies. But it’s in the past, before you run for Congress.
“You don’t run when you’ve got $660,000 in current judgments, outstanding.You put it behind you. You get it paid, you move on – just like our current House members and just like our district chairmen.”
A 2000 bankruptcy declaration showed Stone with $232,084 in unpaid debt, including three years of unpaid Virginia state income taxes. He was a staffer for U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood, R-Augusta, at the time. Stone said the bankruptcy was caused by “overburdening” medical expenses incurred by a family member.
A separate bankruptcy in the 1980s was caused by the collapse of a business enterprise.
Over at Saporta Report, Tom Baxter notes that former Gov. Sonny Perdue’s stock must be rising:
It’s not entirely coincidental that the two Senate candidates with momentum are those with the closest association to a governor who left office with less than a rousing farewell. It shows for one that there are only a few ways to win, especially in a Republican primary. Perdue and Handel, whatever their differences, have each incorporated elements of Sonny’s style, and his networks, into their campaigns….
I haven’t run down a copy, but I’ve heard that Perdue, referred to simply as “Sonny,” does the narration in a radio ad for his cousin which has aired in south Georgia. W.J. Cash would have recognized this as a classic example of “friends and neighbors” politics, and some things haven’t changed much in 75 years. When you consider yourself on a first-name basis with a politician, you’re more forgiving.
Fitz Johnson and Ashley Bell have several things in common. They are both Republican candidates for state school superintendent. They are both African-American. And they are both fending off accusations that they are closet Democrats.
Bell’s GOP conversion has been defended by the likes of former state party chair Sue Everhart and tea party leader Julianne Thompson.
Johnson was accused of Democratic leanings this weekend by Bill Simon of the Political Vine. The campaign responded this morning, sending this statement from Johnson:
“This is obviously the work of someone who not only supports another candidate, but also failed to do the most basic research. I am a life-long Republican, and anyone who tries to state otherwise is mistaken.”
Here’s the point-by-point rebuttal offered by the Johnson campaign:
Falsehood #1: Fitz is a “Former Democrat Party Executive Board Member of Prince William County Democratic Party, Prince William County, Virginia”
Fact: Fitz has not lived in Virginia since he was 17. In fact, Fitz left for U.S. Army basic training before he could legally vote. He has never served as a Democratic Party officer in Virginia, Georgia, or any other state.
Falsehood #2: “Donor to Democrat Jim Martin in 2008 against Republican Saxby Chambliss for U.S. Senate.”
Fact: Fitz Johnson has never given money to Jim Martin. A simple internet search would have shown that this donor is another person. The donor was listed as an employee of “Think Interactive”. A rudimentary google search of “Think Interactive Terrell Johnson” brings up the LinkedIn profile of a different person in Atlanta named Terrell Johnson. Notice that this Terrell Johnson lists “Think Interactive” as his employer in 2008, just as the FEC reports show.
Falsehood #3: “In his role as Vice President of Georgetown Capitol, in 2012, he donated to the re-election of Barack Obama.”
Fact: Fitz Johnson has never given money to Barack Obama. Alexander Johnson, not Fitz, donated to Barack Obama. Alexander Johnson is Fitz’s brother and his business partner. Alexander and Fitz are not the same person, and do not share bank accounts. While Fitz has the utmost respect and love for his brother, they disagree on politics. Fitz is a Republican.
We’ve put a call into Simon for his response.
The early voting figures that are trickling in are worth an extra look. About 49,000 people have cast their ballots early, but surprisingly Fulton does not lead the pack. That honor goes to Muscogee County, with just over 2,800 votes tallied.
One reason why is that Columbus features a heated mayor election between incumbent Teresa Tomlinson and a challenger running on an anti-crime platform.
None of the campaigns are reading too deeply into the depressed metro Atlanta turnout. Several strategists say that Rep. Phil Gingrey and former Secretary of State Karen Handel, who both have metro Atlanta bases, expected most Fulton, Cobb and DeKalb voters to wait until May 20 to vote.
And one said that the Muscogee numbers could be a good sign for Handel, who counts state Sen. Josh McKoon of Columbus as one of her chief supporters.
We told you yesterday about a newly birthed Super PAC backed by Marietta-based Vivex and Amendia corporations. In addition to backing Ed Lindsey in the 11th District GOP race, the group has put $19,000 into direct mail supporting St. Simons Island businessman John McCallum in the First Congressional District race.
While the Republican U.S. Senate hopefuls duke it out, the Georgia GOP is trying to put at least some heat on Michelle Nunn. It has created a website entitled “Nunn on the Run” — the animated Michelle Nunn runs across the screen as you scroll down — to show off her fundraising travels around the country.
The GAGOP also jumped on this new analysis from the Washington Post showing the particularly steep odds Democrats face in Georgia this year: Its model gives Republicans a 94 percent chance of holding the seat.
That new House committee to investigate the 2012 Benghazi incident in Libya wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment thing on Speaker John Boehner’s part, says U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Coweta County.
Westmoreland, chairman of the intelligence committee’s oversight and investigations subcommittee, told the Washington Examiner that it’s been in the works for months:
With Boehner’s approval and consultation, Westmoreland assembled an informal committee of about a dozen members to review the joint committee investigation and look for ways to improve it.
Westmoreland’s ad-hoc group, drawn from the five committees involved in the Benghazi investigation, ultimately determined that complications in coordinating the efforts of multiple panels, and periodic turf wars, were hampering the Benghazi investigation. It’s a view Boehner came to share after resisting for months the creation of a select committee on the grounds that it might set back the inquiry as any new panel got up to speed.
The “structure in and of itself was just cumbersome, and I think the speaker realized that,” Westmoreland [said]. “I think it was frustration that finally drove him to the point to say ‘Enough’s enough.’ The committee system is what it is. People don’t like other people getting in their jurisdiction.”
Speaking of the Washington Examiner: A few years back, Bob Kemper, our man at the White House, was a co-author of the AJC’s Political Insider.
He moved on to several other gigs, and was an assistant managing editor at the Examiner when he died Saturday of an apparent heart attack. He was 53. Kemper was a funny guy, as Politico reminded us with this White House pool report he filed back in the day:
BOB’S POOL REPORT: “Pool Report #1 — Oct. 25, 2004 — Crawford to Greeley, Colo.: Was there news? Are you new here? No. No news. Marine 1 arrived at 8:20 a.m. local time. POTUS and FLOTUS were accompanied on the helicopter by Rudy Giuliani and his wife. As the foursome approached the pool this fateful morning, your pooler grabbed the arm of AP and shouted, ‘Thank God Scott’s going to be our briefer on this!!’ The usual assortment of top Bush aides was already aboard AF1. … POTUS, FLOTUS and guests did the arrival dance: Salute, wave, walk, cha, cha, cha. Pause, wave, climb steps, cha, cha, cha. Big Finish here! Turn, pause, wave, cha, cha, cha. (Caution: Music may have been playing only in pooler’s head.)
“Rudy Giuliani and his wife (The former Judith Nathan informs the pool that she now goes by Mrs. Giuliani) visited the pool briefly. He’s thrilled to be here with POTUS. He described the introduction he was going to give as the same speech he gave at the Republican convention only much shorter. … Scotty gaggled. The NYTimes story on the weapons cache dominated. He laid out a tic-toc that suggests the U.S. was not in charge of the weapons depot when the stuff disappeared or it was busy with other priorities. Transcript is on its way. Scotty said the speech would be new and contain new language. (Your pool reports, you decide.)
“Flight and helo trip uneventful (thus explaining how your pooler was still alive and able to file this report.) The helos, out of habit, landed in a ballpark a stone’s throw from the event site. There was more waving. Cha, cha, cha. Bob Kemper, Atlanta Journal Constitution.”
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.