Health care company hands slander warning to state Senate candidate

State Sen. Brandon Beach, at a press conference on the introduction of legislation to MARTA's footprint in metro Atlanta. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

State Sen. Brandon Beach. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

One of the more politically active health care outlets in Georgia has delivered a cease-and-desist warning to Aaron Barlow, the GOP challenger to state Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta.

In a letter, Randy Evans, the attorney for Jackson Healthcare of Alpharetta warned Barlow that he was dallying with a slander suit for alleging that Jackson Healthcare and its CEO, Richard Jackson, were the sole entity behind Senate Bill 86, a measure sponsored by Beach and other Republicans that would have greatly curtailed malpractice lawsuits.

The bill was introduced in February 2015, and never moved.

State Senate candidate Aaron Barlow. AJC file

State Senate candidate Aaron Barlow. AJC file

The comments in question were made last week at the Cherokee County Republican Women’s debate. You can find the exchange on this YouTube video around the 50-minute mark. Beach pointed to SB 86 as part of his fight to curtail the influence of trial lawyers and repair the alleged damage done by the federal Affordable Care Act.

The second signer on the bill is state Sen. John Albers, R- Roswell, considered one of the most conservative members of the state Senate.

When his turn came to speak, Barlow said this:

“This particular legislation is a form of crony politics. The only serious supporter of this particular bill is an organization called Jackson Healthcare. It’s funded $100,000 in political contributions to my opponent and several other politicians….

“This bill benefits nobody except them….”

Jackson Healthcare’s attorney took exception:

“These statements are false and deceptive with actual knowledge. In addition, since neither Jackson nor Jackson Healthcare are public figures, the standard for imposition of liability is much lower than for public figures.”

Evans, as you know, is a member of the Republican National Committee and one of the most politically connected attorneys in Atlanta: Read the entire letter here:

Jackson Healthcare is a well-known financial figure in Georgia politics. CEO Richard Jackson put $500,000 into the pro-Jeb Bush Right to Rise PAC in 2015.

Nor is it unprecedented for the company to insert itself in local elections. In 2014, organizations with links to Jackson Healthcare attacked state Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, for his opposition to an earlier version of SB 86. The details can be found in this PeachPundit.com piece.

The Barlow camp pointed to the Beach campaign for the legal warning. “There is nothing to this besides bully tactics by the Beach campaign to try and shut Aaron up regarding his extensive campaign contributions from big business, particularly Jackson Healthcare,” said Barlow spokesman Andrew O’Shea.

Absent examining the cease-and-desist letter, the Beach campaign declined comment.

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If there were any doubts that Indiana is all-important to the Stop Donald Trump forces, there shouldn’t be any more.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich said late Sunday he would suspend his campaign in Indiana in hopes that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz can score the winner-take-all primary.

jolt

jolt

In exchange, Cruz is stepping aside in New Mexico and Oregon, where Kasich’s more moderate blend of conservatism is expected to do better.

“Our goal is to have an open convention in Cleveland, where we are confident a candidate capable of uniting the Party and winning in November will emerge as the nominee,” Kasich strategist John Weaver said in a statement. “We believe that will be John Kasich, who is the only candidate who can defeat Secretary Clinton and preserve our GOP majority in the Congress.”

A tidbit on the topic from the Washington Post:

The deal was discussed in a private meeting last week between Cruz campaign manager Jeff Roe and Kasich chief strategist John Weaver in Hollywood, Fla., on the sidelines of the Republican National Committee meeting, said a source with knowledge of the discussions who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The deal was finalized Sunday in phone calls between the two advisers.

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The Guardian, a British newspaper, has a look at how protestors planned their unexpected appearance at Stone Mountain Park on Saturday:

One dusty black car that pulled up to a toll at Stone Mountain park on Saturday looked like any other about to sputter into the Georgia park, but its driver had a plan: she handed the attendant a penny, then a second, and a third, on her way to $15. At three tolls nearby, drivers did the same, locking cars in traffic as far as the eye could see.

As planned, that’s when the protest against “pro-white” and pro-Confederate demonstrators began.

Nearly 50 activists affiliated with Black Lives Matter and progressive groups jumped out of cars, unfurled banners against white supremacy, and passed out flyers to exasperated drivers, who honked horns and shouted obscenities.

***

This Wall Street Journal piece has an unusual look at the commercial origins of America’s gun culture. A taste:

Having started with customers who needed guns but didn’t especially love them, the industry now focused on those who loved guns but didn’t especially need them. In the late 1800s, gun companies were innovators in advertising, among the first merchandisers to make extensive use of chromolithography, an early technique for producing multicolored print. Their calendars and other promotional materials were works of art, depicting exciting scenes in which gunmen faced off with bandits or beasts.

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If there was any question about whether Dan Cathy was planning to support confidante Jim Pace in the Third Congressional District, think again.pacefundraiser

The Chick-fil-A CEO and his wife co-hosted a reception supporting Pace at Glendalough Manor in Tyrone Thursday. The price per ticket? $250. Also on the host committee were state Reps. David Knight, R-Griffin, and Brian Strickland, R-McDonough.

Pace, of course, spearheaded the group of investors that helped Cathy bring Pinewood Studios to metro Atlanta. He’s now running in the crowded primary to succeed the retiring Lynn Westmoreland in the conservative Third District.

Pace lost the first quarter fundraising battle in that race to dentist and former West Point mayor Drew Ferguson, but he had the most money in the bank out of all the competitors at the end of March. His $330,000 cash on hand was mostly due to money he put into his own campaign.

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Speaking of early fundraising, former U.S. Rep. Paul Broun reported fairly anemic numbers compared to his main opponent in the 9th District congressional primary, incumbent Doug Collins.

Broun’s campaign reported a little more than $65,000 in receipts through March 31, according to federal campaign finance filings. That’s less than one-tenth of what Collins, R-Gainesville, saw in contributions during that same period.

Collins’ campaign attracted big money from political action committees, including those of top House Republicans Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy. We wrote all about the built-in fundraising advantages incumbents have last week and you can read that piece here.

Broun, meanwhile, got most of his money from individual donors, including maximum donations from the CEOs of two oil companies, Whitaker Oil in Marbleton and Middleton Oil in Houston. His campaign kicked off April with more than $43,000 in the bank, again about a tenth of what Collins has on hand.

“In just three weeks after announcing, I raised the money needed to the lay the foundation for my campaign. And, unlike Doug Collins, I did so without being bankrolled by establishment politicians like Paul Ryan,” Broun said in a statement. 

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The chair of the First District GOP  has a bit of a counterpoint to the theatrics that unfolded two weekends ago in Georgia, when the first state delegates to the Republican National Convention were chosen. W. John Wood writes in zPolitics that his district “followed the rules and the democratic process was upheld.” Here’s more:

“As it pertains to the national convention, two delegates (Will Carter and Linda Olson) delegates are bound to Donald J. Trump on the first ballot. In subsequent ballots they are unbound and become free agents.  However, it is becoming increasingly likely that Donald Trump will have the requisite 1,237 delegates going into the convention, which will give him the nomination on the first ballot.”


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