Mike Pence event for Karen Handel is closed to prying eyes

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Vice President Mike Pence. (File photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Updated: An 8 a.m. Friday email from Vice President Mike Pence’s office indicated his luncheon fundraiser for Republican would be closed to the press. Apparently, certain parties reconsidered, and the event was opened to journalists, including the AJC.

Original: Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to metro Atlanta on Friday kicks off around 11 a.m. with a meeting with military families at Dobbins Air Reserve Base. It ends with a fundraiser for Republican Karen Handel at the Cobb Energy Centre at 1 p.m.

The Handel fundraiser is another event involving the White House that is closed to the press. President Donald Trump’s visit in late April involved a closed-door fundraiser after his keynote speech at the National Rifle Association conference.

Weeks later, House Speaker Paul Ryan held a private fundraiser for her along with a public rally at a cramped Dunwoody hotel ballroom.

The dynamics of the Sixth District contest are likely one factor for today’s decision to keep a lid on the Handel event. An AJC poll released this morning shows Democrat Jon Ossoff with a seven-point advantage over Handel, leading 51 to 44 percent. The figure not only includes those who support or “lean” toward each candidate, but those who have already voted.

Among those same Sixth District voters, Pence has a four-point favorability deficit. Forty-four percent view him favorably, while 48 percent have an unfavorable view of the vice president.

 

The Handel event, by the way, has a $1,500 per person entry fee, but it includes lunch:

 

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As the Georgia Chamber’s Cody Hall said on Twitter, this qualifies as a “#gapol lol” moment.

The next speaker hurried on stage was Virginia “No relation” Galloway, the former Georgia director for the conservative Americans for Prosperity Foundation, who is now regional director for Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition.

Reed’s organization took responsibility for the embarrassing moment. From CNN:

Lance Lemmonds, a spokesperson for the Faith and Freedom Coalition, said the moment was a “mistake by our audio-visual volunteer,” and offered a statement to CNN.

The statement read: “Sen. Cruz had not completed his remarks when a member of the audio-visual team mistakenly announced the next speaker. We sincerely apologize to Sen. Cruz, who is a great friend of this organization and people of faith across the country.”

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It’s unlikely to derail his nomination as the next director of the FBI, but USA Today reports that Atlanta attorney Chris Wray is likely to face some questions about his law firm and two of its clients.

King & Spalding (where former U.S. senator Sam Nunn still has an office) represents Rosneft and Gazprom, two of Russia’s largest state-controlled oil companies. From the newspaper:

Rosneft was prominently mentioned in the now infamous 35-page dossier prepared by former British MI6 agent Christopher Steele. The dossier claims that the CEO of Rosneft, Igor Sechin, offered candidate Donald Trump, through Trump’s campaign manager Carter Page, a 19% stake in the company in exchange for lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia. The dossier claims that the offer was made in July while Page was in Moscow.

 

Rosneft is also the company that had a $500 billion oil drilling joint-venture with Exxon in 2012, when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was Exxon’s CEO. However, the deal was nixed by President Obama in 2014, when he imposed the sanctions that crippled Russia’s ability to do business with U.S. companies. The lifting of sanctions by the Trump administration would enable Exxon to renew its joint venture agreement with Rosneft, and the law firm of King & Spalding could end up in the middle of the contract negotiations between those two companies.

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The Brunswick News is sounding an alarm likely to be heard throughout the state. It’s hard to overstate how important this is in economic terms:

Officials with the Department of Defense are asking permission to establish a new base realignment and closure commission as a way to make the most of a limited military construction budget.

 

Closing bases would enable the military to spend construction money on facilities and other projects that are needed. The last BRAC commission met in 2005.

 


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