Political Notes: July 2015
Yates Confirmed: Longtime Atlanta federal prosecutor Sally Quillian Yates was finally confirmed by the U. S. Senate as deputy attorney general – several months after she was first nominated by President Barack Obama. She had to wait out a lengthy debate over the confirmation of her boss, Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
Yates, who successfully prosecuted Atlanta Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph, was approved by an 84 -12 vote. Both of Georgia’s senators, Republicans Johnny Isakson and David Perdue, voted for her confirmation.
“I’m confident that she will bring an objective, apolitical approach to a department that sorely needs it,” Perdue said.
Protecting Consumers: As of July 1, Georgia’s Office of Consumer Protection is part of the office of the attorney general.
“Consumer protection is an important area of concern for Georgians, and it must be done effectively and with a balanced approach,” Attorney General Sam Olens said in a statement. “I intend to work with both consumers and businesses to ensure that Georgia has a fair and equitable consumer protection framework.”
The agency formerly operated out of the governor’s office.
In Memoriam: State Rep. Harry Geisinger (R-Roswell) died in May, having served in the House from 1969 to 1974 and again from 2005 until his death. He was a champion of horseracing and hoped to bring it to Georgia.
Former State Rep. Edward Lindsey, quoted in Peach Pundit, said of Geisinger: “Through successes and setbacks, I never saw Harry lose his cool, lash out in anger, or say a mean word about anyone. He was simply a class act and the best among us.”
Isakson Honored: The Small Business Council of America, a national nonprofit group representing privately held and family-owned businesses, presented its 2015 Congressional Award to Georgia’s Sen. Johnny Isakson, citing his “significant efforts on behalf of small businesses in this country.”
Isakson was president of Atlanta’s Northside Realty for 20 years.
Heading New Agency: Michael Nail is the commissioner of the new Department of Community Supervision (DCS), created by the General Assembly this year. The new department was a priority of Gov. Nathan Deal, who announced the appointment. Nail is the former executive director of the State Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Deal said Nail “will work to meet the needs of troubled families and neighborhoods with a holistic approach. Under his leadership, the state will no longer supervise offenders by what they did, but by where they live, and as a result, we will get these families and neighborhoods the support they need through a more efficient system of oversight.”
The governor’s office says the DCS will utilize existing resources and that no money was included in the 2016 budget to create the new department.
Roberts To GDOT: State Rep. Jay Roberts (R-Ocilla), who successfully shepherded the $900-million transportation act through this year’s legislative session, is Gov. Nathan Deal’s choice for planning director of the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT).
Jacobs “Benched”: State Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-Brookhaven) has been named to the DeKalb State Court by Gov. Nathan Deal. Jacobs was a prime backer of cityhood for Brookhaven and was chair of the House committee that oversees MARTA.
Good Luck: Georgia’s beleaguered state ethics commission has a new leader. He is Stefan Ritter, who served for 18 years in the state attorney general’s office and was head of the Education, Elections, Local Government & Judiciary Section at the time of his unanimous selection by the ethics commission. In that capacity, he was the commission’s assigned counsel.
Ritter takes over an agency that has used its leaders like Bic pens – having had four leaders in recent years. The previous head, Holly LaBerge, was fired after a Fulton Court judge called her “dishonest” and fined her $10,000; she has appealed.
Ritter said his goal is to make sure the commission is nonpartisan and not subject to outside pressure.
Gingrich To Dentons: Former Georgia Congressman and one-time Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has joined legal mega-firm Dentons, which is merging with Atlanta’s McKenna, Long and Aldridge. The Atlanta firm boasts political heavyweights from both parties, including former Democratic Congressman Buddy Darden and Eric Tanenblatt, a top Republican fundraiser.
Gingrich will serve as senior adviser in Dentons’ public policy and regulation practice.