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Jim GallowayGreg BluesteinTamar Hallerman

Georgia prosecutor could oversee probe of Alabama governor

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Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley speaks during a news conference at the state Capitol in Montgomery, Ala. Bentley admitted Wednesday he made inappropriate remarks to a top female staffer two years ago, but he denied accusations that he had a physical affair. Bentley said during the news conference that he apologized to his family and to the family of the female staff member for the remarks he called "a mistake." (lbert Cesare/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley speaks during a news conference at the state Capitol in Montgomery, Ala. earlier this year. Albert Cesare/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP

A federal prosecutor in Atlanta, appointed last year by President Barack Obama, could be handed responsibility for a criminal probe of Alabama’s governor. From the Alabama Political Reporter:

The investigation into Governor Robert Bentley has taken a new turn, with the recusal of US Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, George Beck. Those with knowledge of the investigation believe that Beck’s recusal is due to his long association with donors, consultants, and advisors, who have been been involved in various capacities with the Bentley administration.logo-all

While much of the probe into allegations against Bentley has been under the FBI’s Public Integrity Section (PIN), ultimate oversight has now been given to John A. Horn the US Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. PIN oversees the federal effort to combat corruption by prosecuting elected and appointed public officials at all levels of government.

A federal task force is looking at allegations of obstruction of justice, fraudulent use of campaign cash and improper use of state resources. Some of the scrutiny involves Bentley’s involvement with Rebekah Caldwell Mason, a former top aide with whom the governor is alleged to have had an affair. The governor has denied a physical relationship.

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According to his Facebook page, Georgia Baptist Mission Board lobbyist Mike Griffin has endorsed former Congressman Paul Broun in his 9th District congressional bid against Republican incumbent Doug Collins of Gainesville.

Griffin has also endorsed state Sen. Mike Crane, R-Newnan, in the seven-GOPer race for the congressional seat now held by U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Coweta County. Curiously, Westmoreland appears to be describing Crane in this post from earlier this morning:

 Without mentioning any specific names, Westmoreland threw cold water on candidates who claim they can change Washington politics overnight. The famously candid politician was also critical of so-called “hell no” Republicans who oppose all legislation that is not ideologically pure.

Some members of the Republican base say “’I want a touchdown or nothing,’ and those plays just don’t happen,” said Westmoreland. He said Democrats during the last seven years have mastered “slowly moving the needle to the left” politically and that Republicans should do the same on the right.

“You have to grind those things out to get to that goal line,” he said, adding, “You’re not going to fix it by getting up there and doing a lot of ‘no’ votes.”

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First a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate sued the state party over favoritism claims. Now a potential delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia is suing the state party because she says she was improperly disqualified.

Mellissa Prescott Crawford filed a lawsuit Monday in Fulton County Superior Court contending that party Chairman DuBose Porter “usurped” her right to run for a Hillary Clinton delegate slot in an April email because she purportedly supported Republican Derrick Grayson’s long-shot Senate bid. She called that claim “fabricated” and included an affidavit from Grayson swearing she’s never supported him.

She’s asking a judge to appoint her as a delegate and force the party to compensate her for “emotional distress” and attorney’s fees.

The party did not immediately comment. It’s also facing a lawsuit from Alpharetta businessman John Coyne, one of three Democrats running in Tuesday’s U.S. Senate contest, over claims that it played favorites with rival Jim Barksdale’s candidacy.

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Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is looking to build support for a bill that would award former Georgia U.S. Sen. Max Cleland with the Congressional Gold Medal, one of the country’s highest civilian honors.

The text of the legislation highlights Cleland’s military service during the Vietnam War, as well as his work in Georgia and Washington in various public service roles.

Here’s an excerpt from a “dear colleague” letter Reid will circulate in the coming days to try and build support :

“After almost five decades, Max Cleland proved these predictions wrong and his commitment to public service is nothing short of remarkable. Whether it was testifying before Congress as a young soldier to detail the difficulties faced by wounded veterans returning from Vietnam, serving as a Senate staffer to investigate Veterans Administration hospitals, serving as Administrator of the Veterans Administration and helping to institute the Vets Center nationwide counseling program, serving as a State Senator and Secretary of State in Georgia, serving as a Commissioner on the 9/11 Commission, serving as Secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission, or serving as a United States Senator, Max has devoted his life to his country. We are forever grateful for his service.”

The measure honoring the last Democrat to serve Georgia in the U.S. Senate is co-sponsored by Republicans Johnny Isakson and David Perdue. That’s notable given the fiery campaign the GOP waged to oust Cleland in 2002 in favor of Saxby Chambliss.

Read more about the Congressional Gold Medal and the more than 300 people who have been awarded the prize here via the Congressional Research Service.

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Our friends at GeorgiaPol.com have an interesting tale about last-ditch allegations in the DeKalb race for District Attorney. Check it out here.

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Two Georgia congressmen are listed as founding members of the brand-new Congressional Voting Rights Caucus, which will be formally launched today in Washington.

Democrats Sanford Bishop of Albany and Hank Johnson of Lithonia are two of the nearly four dozen lawmakers who have so far joined the growing effort, which is being spearheaded by Texas Democrat Marc Veasey.

Veasey’s office has not released specifics yet about what the group will focus on, but a press notice said the caucus “is answering the call to protect and restore the right to vote for every U.S. citizen” three years after the Supreme Court struck down central components of the 1964 Voting Rights Act.

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The Rev. Benny Tate is scheduled to lead the U.S. Senate in its daily morning prayer on Thursday, Sen. David Perdue’s office announced yesterday. The influential pastor heads up Rock Springs Church in Milner and is close to Perdue.

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The U.S. House passed a bill yesterday to rename the Riverdale Post Office after Riverdale police Maj Greg Barney, who was killed earlier this year during a drug raid.

Read more here from our colleague Tammy Joyner. You can also check out the floor tribute from members of the Georgia congressional delegation here via C-SPAN. Their remarks begin at roughly the 3:45:00 mark.