All On Georgia

COLUMN: Why do the higher ups try to intimidate legislators?

Thursday was full of meddling and hypocrisy.

GeorgiaPol.com wrote about the Twitter exchange over Senator Mike Crane – who happens to be running for Congress- “walking out” on the vote for the amended budget. Members of Governor Deal’s staff shamed Crane for leaving and mocked his principled outsider rhetoric. I’m not sure if Georgians will frown on the fact that staffers took to social media to criticize a legislator, but I do understand the criticism of the missed vote.

That being said, I find any missed votes when a legislator is present at the Capitol to be nothing short of despicable, but it’s difficult for me – and others – to believe that this isn’t something of a personal vendetta of Governor Deal’s staff. Why, you ask? Because none of three who tweeted about Crane have been consistent in their criticism. Where were they when the Governor’s Floor Leader Christian Coomer missed over 100 votes? Have these three legislative watchdogs monitored to make sure no current floor leaders skip votes? Where are the tweets about House leadership all stepping out the ropes on contentious votes, something that happened at least three times during the 2015 session alone. I guess it wouldn’t be so disturbing if they applied that level of criticism to every legislator under the Gold Dome, or not at all.

The other ludicrous event of the day took place in the Senate. While Senator Josh McKoon went to The Well to criticize the politicization of the Pastor’s Protection Act today, Speaker Ralston’s legal counsel took to the Senate floor to criticize Senator McKoon for his remarks – likely because the PPA was an initiative of the Speaker. McKoon quickly posted the following statement on Facebook:

“The Counsel for the Speaker of the House just used some language to describe me that I cannot post here because of its profane nature. He informed me if I wantto [criticize] House bills that I should run for the House. Evidently in addition to refusing to defend the free exercise of Georgians, if he could have it his way he would take away my right of free speech. ‪#‎gapol‬ ‪#‎gasen‬ ‪#‎rfra‬

Now, I don’t know what business the Speaker’s legal counsel has shaming any legislator for their remarks or beliefs, seeing as those he is neither a constituent nor a member of the Republican caucus. What’s more disturbing, though, is that this isn’t the first time this has happened. Consider this video from Day 40 of the 2015 session. After the final vote, just after 12:00 AM, (Go to House Floor Part 4- Sine Die and go to the 3:05.00 minute mark) you can see Chastain get in Rep. Heath Clark’s face. He actually berated him in the middle of the House floor for how he voted. Is he acting on behalf of the Speaker when he does these things or do these outburst simply stem from his perceived state of power

Politics is dirty. But should it be this dirty?

Thursday was full of meddling and hypocrisy.