Congressman Bob Barr has startled supporters and opponents with news he has filed a $30 million defamation lawsuit in D.C. federal court against former President Bill Clinton, pornographer Larry Flynt and Democratic consultant James Carville. Asked about the lawsuit, Barr said, “For eight years, the Clinton Administration attack dogs, James Carville, and their Hollywood friends, like pornographer Larry Flynt, employed slash and burn, guerilla warfare tactics in an attempt to intimidate and bully those focused on upholding the rule of law and ending government corruption. While they may have succeeded in intimidating some people, they didn’t and won’t intimidate me… Their lies, smears and intimidation will end, and I look forward to this case moving forward.”
House Speaker Tom Murphy, 78, has decided to seek another term to the Georgia House. First elected to the House in 1960 and speaker in 1973, Murphy pledged to continue to provide leadership and aid for his West Georgia District. However, he is facing formidable Republican opposition in the increasingly suburban area. He narrowly escaped defeat in 2000.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Byrne recently kicked off a modestly financed TV campaign assailing both Gov. Roy Barnes and fellow GOP contender Sonny Perdue. In a 30-second spot, Byrne declares: “Politicians like Sonny Perdue belittle us with ads calling the governor a rat…. Roy Barnes has been a disaster.” At the end of his spot Byrne notes he was a Marine pilot who flew more than 760 combat missions. The spots are to be aired on broadcast stations in the Atlanta market. Byrne opens his ad by deploring Sonny Perdue’s TV portrayal of Gov. Roy Barnes as a rat, and then proceeds to show Roy the Rat.
The Southern Co. has asked the Public Service Commission for certification as a marketer of natural gas. The electric power company, operating as the newly formed Southern Gas Co., would take over the customers of bankrupt NewPower Co. to become one of the largest gas retailers in the state. A decision will take at least 60 days.
Gov. Roy Barnes has named former state Rep. Earlene Sizemore, 63, of Sylvester, to the Public Service Commission to succeed the late Bob Durden, who died in May. Ms. Sizemore is the first woman ever chosen to serve on the PSC. She must stand for election in November.
Washington Post columnist Mark Shields has rushed to the defense of Sen. Max Cleland after Republican challenger Saxby Chambliss questioned Cleland’s vote on amendments to a chemical weapons-ban treaty. Shields contends Chambliss hinted Cleland was a traitor. “Why would a challenger who himself avoided the military draft by what he calls ‘a bad knee’ choose to question the patriotism of a man who was awarded the Silver Star and the Bronze Star for his service? We are not talking rocket science here,” Shields wrote.
Gov. Roy Barnes has appointed Coweta Circuit District Attorney Pete Skandalakis as an independent attorney general to investigate the paroles board scandal, including allegations that Attorney General Thurbert Baker attempted to gain an early parole for the son of a wealthy insurance executive to allow the son to attend military school. Baker apparently contacted the board when he was a member of the Georgia House. Baker asked for the independent counsel after attorneys for paroles board members Walter Ray and Bobby Whitworth alleged Baker had improperly contacted the board. Whitworth and Ray later resigned under pressure from Gov. Barnes. They are being investigated for allegedly lobbying the Legislature for a private, for-profit probation company.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee is spending $1 million on an avalanche of TV ads supporting 8th District Rep. Saxby Chambliss for Senate. Commercials touting Chambliss’ support of such items as President Bush’s education reform recently began appearing on television across the state. Ads are designed to give Chambliss a clear advantage over his primary opponent, state Rep. Bob Irvin, R-North Fulton, and to increase his name identification.
Sen. Zell Miller delivered another plea recently for the Senate to take action on prescription drugs. He also tore off the first page of his calendar, counting down the Senate voting days left till the August recess. “Time is running out. I hate to tell you, but some want it to run out. That’s their game. They want to shuffle and slouch and go through the motions while the clock runs out,” he declared. “That’s why I’m going to bring a calendar in here and just like we count down the shopping days left until Christmas, I’m going to count down the days left until the August recess.”