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Greg Bluestein

Deal defends staff’s contact with ethics chief, comparing her to ‘prosecutor’

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Gov. Nathan Deal issued the liveliest defense yet to the bombshell ethics memo rocking his campaign for re-election.

The remarks came in an interview with Erick Erickson, a conservative talk show host on WSB Radio, as he faces mounting pressure to explain why his aides contacted the commission’s chair, Holly LaBerge, days before a key hearing. In the interview, he compared LaBerge to a prosecutor and the commission’s five members to judges.

It was a friendly interview in a friendly venue. Said Deal:

“There was no communication from me and my staff to the commission members. Holly LaBerge is sort of like a prosecutor in the case. Would you not expect us to try to engage with the prosecutor to find out when is the case going to be heard. The commission members are the judges – and when it finally got to them, they found it lacked merit.”

Some backstory: My AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin reported Monday that LaBerge drafted a memo in July 2012 documenting calls and messages from Deal chief of staff Chris Riley and chief counsel Ryan Teague.

The pair had contacted her about the Deal complaints just days before the commission was to act on them. LaBerge says in the memo that Teague threatened the agency if she didn’t move to settle the cases without a public hearing.

Read our full story here. And listen to the session yourself in these four segments:

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