Political Notes: July 2011

Poitevint Redux: Alec L. Poitevint II of Bainbridge, a key GOP player on the national and state levels, has been reappointed to the Georgia Ports Authority Board of Directors by Gov. Nathan Deal.

Poitevint will be running the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa in August 2012 in his role as chairman of the Committee on Arrangements. He is a former treasurer of the Republican National Com-mittee and chairman of the Georgia Republican Party.

Poitevint is chairman and president of Southeastern Minerals, Inc. and director of the Georgia Agribusiness Council.



The New Guy: Freshman State Rep. Matt Hatchett (R-Dublin) is a new floor leader for Gov. Nathan Deal, replacing Hank Huckaby, who resigned his Georgia House seat to become chancellor of the University System of Georgia. Hatchett, a former Dublin City Councilman, joins Amy Carter and Doug Collins on Deal’s House team.



Pen Pals?: Ninth District Repub-lican Congressman Tom Graves wrote to President Barack Obama questioning the use of an Autopen to sign the PATRIOT Sunsets Extension Act of 2011 into law. In 2005, Obama’s predecessor, President George W. Bush, requested an opinion from the Office on Legal Counsel, which indicated that Autopen use is constitutional.

Graves, however, is not convinced and requested that the President provide “a detailed explanation of his authority to delegate this responsibility to a surrogate, whether it is human, machine or otherwise.”



State Chamber Veep: Veteran GOP Congressional staffer Jeff Hamling of Roswell is the new Vice President for Federal Affairs at the Georgia Chamber. Most recently he worked for U.S. Rep. Tom Price, for whom he was deputy chief of staff, district director and district field representative.

“Building a stronger presence in Washington, D.C., is an important component to maintaining a business climate that will let companies grow and create jobs,” Hamling said in a release.



New Regent: Neil Pruitt, Jr. was tapped by Gov. Nathan Deal to serve as the Fifth Congressional District representative on the state board of regents. Pruitt, chairman and CEO of UHS-Pruitt, a healthcare company, is on the board of governors of the American Health Care Association. He lives in Atlanta.



Press Club Protest: The Atlanta Press Club has formally protested Gov. Nathan Deal’s banning of a FOX 5 television news team from the signing ceremony for the new immigration bill passed by the General As-sembly. The governor was apparently upset by a Dale Russell news report that disclosed that Deal’s campaign paid $90,000 to a fund-raising company linked to his daughter-in-law.

State troopers barred reporters and a cameraman from entering the ceremony.

The press club protest, in the form of a letter to the governor, was delivered to the Capitol by Press Club Executive Director Lauri Strauss.

The letter read, in part, “We consider this action a disregard of the constitutional right of freedom of the press. Selective exclusion from a public press event, and enforcing that exclusion using taxpayer-funded state law enforcement, sets a dangerous precedent. It is unacceptable in a free and open society. And it is contrary to the rights granted by the First Amendment and the values endorsed by the Georgia Open Records Act.”

The letter asked for assurance that this was an “unfortunate, unprofessional and isolated incident and that journalists don’t have to fear accesss restriction by state troopers or police under your administration.”



“Friending” Lawmakers: Georgia’s two Republican senators, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, have been named “Taxpayers’ Friends” by the National Taxpayers Union, in recognition of their “A” ratings on the union’s scorecard for their 2010 voting records on matters related to taxes, spending and debt.

Chambliss had a score of 97 and Isakson had a 96. Senators with scores of 95 or above were friended.

In the House, the taxpayers union considered any member with a score of 90 or above to be a friend. Members of the Georgia Congressional delegation so designated include incumbents Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey, Tom Price and Lynn Westmoreland and former Congressman John Linder — all Republicans.



Going Down: The Georgia Public Service Commission approved a measure that reduces Georgia Power’s residential customers’ rates by some 64 cents a month. The fuel cost recovery rates were lowered, at the utility’s request, to allow Georgia Power to recoup costs resulting from outages and ensure that more than $5 million in proceeds from a settlement be used to offset the recovered cost balance, according to the PSC. The reduction took effect June 1.

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