Political Notes — 6th District race nearly at $40 million

[private]Already the most expensive congressional race in history, the 6th District battle between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel is nearing the $40 million mark in terms of money flowing into the campaigns.

The candidates themselves account for almost $28 million of that total, according to the latest figures from the Federal Election Commission.

For Ossoff: $8.3 million raised in his April report, $15.3 million in his report filed June 8, and $23.6 million in total contributions.

For Handel: $463,744 raised in her April report, $3.8 million in her June 8 report, $4.3 million total.

Those FEC numbers have already been eclipsed as contributions continue to pour in. The day after she filed her latest report, for example, Handel said she raised another $250,000 in a Friday fundraiser attended by Vice President Mike Pence.

Handel’s haul is quite respectable for a congressional race, although she’s still about $19 million short of Ossoff’s total.

Independent expenditures by PACs not affiliated with the campaigns have helped redress that imbalance. There’s been about $10.8 million worth of independent PAC spending so far, most of it on ads attacking the candidates. About $9 million has been spent in support of Handel and $1.8 million in support of Ossoff.

There is still a little more than one week before the June 20 runoff, so the $40 million level definitely appears to be in reach.

Hating on the poll

The folks who run the Georgiapol.com website (formerly known as Peach Pundit) are foaming-at-the-mouth angry that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution dared to publish the results of its poll of the 6th Congressional District runoff.

What’s got them steaming is the poll’s finding that Ossoff has a 51-44 percent lead over Handel, a lead that is outside the poll’s 4 percent margin of error.

Mike Hassinger, one of the site’s contributors, fumed that the poll is “fake news” that is only believable to “window-licking morons.”

“As a subscriber to the AJC, I am offended they even published it, but I have only sympathy for Greg Bluestein, Aaron Gould Sheinin and Kristina Torres, who did their best to report on the steaming pile of debacle,” Hassinger grumped. “It’s not easy to polish poo, but they did a fairly good job.”

“This wasn’t a poll,” said Charlie Harper, the publisher of Georgiapol.com, in a Facebook posting. “This was the AJC trying to put their thumb on the scale. That’s fine if it’s done by an Editorial board. It’s insulting to journalism when masked as news.”

The survey was conducted June 5-8 for the AJC by ABT Associates and involved 1,000 registered voters.

This journalism feud can be put in context when you remember that Georgiapol.com has long functioned as the unofficial PR agency for Handel, with Harper serving as her media spokesman for the runoff campaign.

Is the AJC poll so ridiculously out of line that it has to be considered an outlier? Perhaps not. SurveyUSA, a long-established polling firm, conducted a poll for WXIA-TV in Atlanta that was released May 23.

The SurveyUSA poll also had Ossoff leading Handel by an identical spread of 51-44 percent.

Ralston reprimand finalized

During the State Bar of Georgia’s annual convention at Jekyll Island over the weekend, the long-pending ethics complaint against House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) was finally closed out.

As reported by Greg Land in the Daily Report:

The State Bar of Georgia’s Disciplinary Review Panel issued a reprimand to Georgia House of Representatives Speaker David Ralston on Friday during the bar’s annual convention at Jekyll Island.

The panel’s action was ordered by the Georgia Supreme Court in December after it unanimously agreed that Ralston, a practicing attorney in Blue Ridge, had violated bar rules prohibiting a lawyer from loaning money to a client while a case was pending and of using money from his trust account to do so.

The reprimand, which was read to Ralston during the panel’s meeting, acknowledged that he had advanced funds to his clients “believing that they were truly in dire financial need” and “were having difficulty meeting the basic necessities of for themselves and their minor child, including paying rent and paying for prescription medication.”

Even so, it concluded with a “reminder” for Ralston to “be meticulous in handling your trust account and to promptly move earned fees from your trust account to your operating account so that you do not inadvertently commingle client funds with your own funds.”

JQC appointments

Meanwhile, Ralston’s office announced that the speaker has made two appointments to the Judicial Qualifications Commission.

Marietta attorney James Balli is Ralston’s attorney-appointee to the JQC. He is a partner with the firm of Sams, Larkin, Huff & Balli and his appointment will expire July 1, 2020.

Richard Hyde, is Ralston’s citizen-appointee to the JQC. Hyde is an investigator with the law firm of Balch & Bingham in Atlanta and his term expires July 1, 2019.

© 2017 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: 6th Congressional District , AJC poll , David Ralston , Jon Ossoff , JQC , karen handel