On the campaign trail: Zoller departs talk radio again, for a while

For the second time in three years, Gainesville talk radio host Martha Zoller is taking a break from her broadcast duties to get involved in a Republican political campaign.

The first time was when she made a try at running for Congress in 2012 — Doug Collins defeated her in the GOP runoff for the 9th Congressional District seat.

She returned to talk radio after that campaign and also launched a website, Z Politics, that has served as a bulletin board for the Republican Party and provided an online venue for posting audio clips from the show she co-hosted with Tim Bryant.

Zoller announced last week she is again taking leave from both her radio show and her website duties to get involved in the day-to-day of a political campaign, in this case, David Perdue’s general election race against Democrat Michelle Nunn.

She explained the decision thusly:

Over time, I was impressed with David’s true outsider status and with the story of how he got into studying the federal budget (he ordered a copy and read it).  I also liked he came from modest beginnings and worked his way through college. I liked he was humble but deep in his faith. But his message was the kicker.  It all goes back to debt, deficit and fiscal responsibility.  That ties into everything and Perdue knows that. From National Security to Job Creation, we are held hostage to an immobile senate led by Harry Reid and to our debt and deficits.

A few weeks ago, I got a call asking me to come on board with the campaign.  I decided this was the time to retire from radio and work for a candidate I believe in.  David Perdue will be the best representative for Georgia in the U. S. Senate to fill the seat Sen. Saxby Chambliss now holds.

My goal broadly is to get as many Republicans as possible elected at every level and in the short term, do everything in my power to make David Perdue the next senator from Georgia.

Zoller’s wording in that statement is that she decided to “retire” from radio to work for Perdue, but she didn’t clarify whether that retirement would be permanent or would end after the election.

While she’s toiling for the Perdue campaign, Dwight Roberts will continue running the Z Politics website.

That’s why they call it ‘quid pro quo’

Ace reporter James Salzer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has been busy in the past two weeks drawing the lines and connecting the dots between Gov. Nathan Deal’s campaign fundraising efforts and the things his administration can do in return for that support.

First, there was an extensive report in the AJC of Deal’s appointing 51 people to the Board of Regents, the Georgia Ports Authority and the state Board of Natural Resources who had collectively contributed nearly $1.3 million to his campaigns.

Deal’s Democratic opponent, state Sen. Jason Carter, said the appointments were evidence of “cronyism” in the Deal administration and pledged to be transparent in making his own appointments if elected governor.

Deal’s campaign spokesman, Brian Robinson, pointed out that Anne Cox Chambers, whose family controls Cox Enterprises and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, was a “maxed-out contributor” to Carter and had once been appointed ambassador to Belgium when Carter’s grandfather, Jimmy Carter, was president.

Robinson said the AJC should “report in every story” it publishes about the governor’s race that the newspaper’s owner is a Carter contributor — which the newspaper of course does not do.

Salzer more recently unearthed an email sent by a Deal campaign staffer – David Werner – to Republican legislators in which Deal pledged to spend the next four years “returning the favor” to those lawmakers who contribute financially to his reelection campaign.

“We really do need and would greatly appreciate your support,” the email states. “As the Governor said, we plan to spend the next four years returning the favor for those that have been supportive of us.”

Carter said of the email:  “The message is clear: If you want Gov. Deal to care about you, then you better be willing to open your wallet for his campaign.”

Appointing one’s major contributors and supporters to political posts is a longtime practice of governors – and presidents – from both political parties, so it’s not as if Deal is really breaking any new ground here.

State Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell), one of those who wrote a check for Deal’s reelection campaign, observed, “Roy Barnes and Bobby Kahn were masters at shaking that money tree,” a reference to Georgia’s last Democratic governor and his chief of staff.

Of immigrants, documented and otherwise

Deal stirred up a small controversy last week when he was confronted by student immigration activists after he gave a speech to a campus Republican group at the University of Georgia.

When asked by one of the students about the state’s policy of restricting undocumented immigrants from attending some public colleges, Deal replied, “I presume that you are” undocumented.  The student said she was not, in fact, undocumented.

Antonio Molina, chairman of the state Democratic Party’s Latino Caucus, later criticized Deal’s remark: “The Latino Caucus is appalled and disturbed that our current governor would profile young students based on their appearance and presume that they are undocumented. Such a presumption is at the very heart of racial profiling.”

“I had the pleasure of serving my country in the United States Navy for six years, conducting multiple deployments in the defense of the Constitution of the United States,” Molina said. “If I were out of uniform and asked the same questions, would the governor presume that I was an undocumented as well?”

They’ve got some explaining to do

In his race against Rep. John Barrow in the 12th Congressional District, Republican nominee Rick Allen once again finds himself compelled to talk about his business and the projects it has undertaken.

Allen is an Augusta contractor whose company builds things.  Local governments and school boards frequently decide to construct things like schools and administration buildings, which results in business for contractors like Allen.

As the nominee of a party that scorns budget earmarks and stimulus spending packages for government construction projects, Allen has been caught in an awkward position because of the public works projects his firm has done.

When he ran for this congressional seat in 2012, Allen lost a bitterly contested GOP primary to state legislator Lee Anderson after Anderson ran ads accusing him of buying government contracts by making contributions to local Democrats.  Anderson’s ads called it “pay to play” politics.

When Allen criticized Anderson in that race for voting for the T-SPLOST highway sales tax bill, Anderson countered that Allen’s contracting firm had benefited from school projects funded by local sales taxes.

In 2014, Allen once again finds himself having to put some distance between himself and the stimulus package passed by congressional Democrats in 2009 that provided billions of dollars for government construction projects in an attempt to juice a depressed economy.

The Associated General Contractors of America, an organization that Allen has contributed to, supported that stimulus package.

A video clip has surfaced on YouTube that shows Allen explaining his stance on the stimulus package during an appearance at a Candler County event in May:

Allen says on the video:

I was against the stimulus package. My industry lobbied for it, okay? And I broke with my industry association over that one issue, meaning that I quit funding that PAC because of that stimulus package because i knew what was in there and I knew it was wrong.

And I was against it and for them, all they’re doing is saying well, he supported the stimulus. I did not support the stimulus package and there’s proof of that because that’s when I quit writing checks to that PAC.

And unfortunately industry associations sometimes don’t do what you want them to do and I was very vocal about it and I have witnesses to that in AGC that will attest to that – because really there are a lot of government contractors that belong to Associated General Contractors. They wanted the stimulus package but I knew they wouldn’t get any benefit from it.

Another candidate who might have some explaining to do is Andrew Hunt, the Libertarian Party nominee for governor.

Hunt once operated a nanotechnology company and his party believes that private businesses like Hunt’s should operate unfettered by government regulations but also without reaping the benefits of tax funding from that same government.

And yet, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Hunt has benefited from the type of government largesse that his own party opposes:

Federal records show Hunt’s technology firms have received almost $38 million over the past 20 years, support that’s helped his businesses get a crucial foothold in a cutthroat industry. One federal report said a lucrative Hunt startup would not have survived without government support.

The revelation worried some supporters, who had to reconcile his federal backing with his promise to decrease government spending and encourage a more accessible economy. Such concerns are justifiable, said Doug Craig, the chairman of the Libertarian Party of Georgia.

“If we take our lumps on it, we probably deserve it,” Craig said. “If someone calls us hypocritical for doing business with the government, I don’t think that’s unfair.”

Hunt is running on his business acumen, favoring a limited government that doesn’t pick winners and losers. He disagrees with federal handouts for monolithic companies who he says use lobbyists to curry political favor.

But the millions his company received were different, Hunt said, because they came from a federal program that was peer-reviewed and did not allow lobbying.

“It’s not an earmark to a company. It’s not pork,” Hunt said. “Engineers and scientists sit on a panel and decide who gets the award or not.”

© 2014 by The Georgia Report


Tags: Andrew Hunt , Anne Cox Chambers , Atlanta Journal-Constitution , campaign contributors , David Perdue , government spending , Jason Carter , Martha Zoller , Nathan Deal , Rick Allen , Senate race , undocumented college students