Discover more from Swing State Georgia
Governor’s school safety plan avoids mention of guns
New testimony on Trump delayed until later this month
Georgia’s Governor steers clear of guns in a new school safety plan. Gun violence isn’t at the forefront of the Georgia U.S. Senate race - yet. And Democrats accidentally tip their hands to reporters. This is Swing State Georgia for June 7, 2022.
Gov. Brian Kemp is stressing the need for more security at schools – not new firearms restrictions or stronger gun control laws – after another series of mass shootings around the country.
The governor spoke at the Georgia Alliance of School Resource Officers and Educators conference in Athens on Monday, where he asked for a moment of silence for the 19 elementary school students and two teachers killed in Uvalde, Texas.
He also told the school officers in the audience that “the thought of something similar happening in one of our places of learning is one of my heaviest concerns, one that I ask God to guard against every day.”
To prevent something similar in Georgia, Kemp pointed to the $69 million in school security grants early in his first term, new funding for mental health resources at public schools and other efforts to combat mental illness.
Notably absent in Gov. Kemp’s remarks was any mention of access to firearms or changes to Georgia gun policy. Georgia lawmakers recently eliminated the requirement to have a permit requirement to carry a weapon in the state, which Kemp signed into law earlier this year.
Like most other Georgia Republican leaders, Kemp opposes new efforts to curb gun access. A detailed “School Safety Update” his office recently released focuses instead on training sessions and site assessments.
Stacey Abrams spoke about her opponent’s stance on guns, telling a crowd of new high school graduates Monday that Kemp’s refusal to support new limits makes their lives more dangerous.
“I don’t believe we should have guns everywhere. And while I don’t have an issue with responsible gun owners, we can’t figure out who they are if we don’t have background checks.”
Federal law still requires a background check for most gun purchases, but not for weapons bought at gun shows or through private transfers.
She added: “It’s about making sure that we can protect the Second Amendment and protect second graders in the state of Georgia.”
SPECIAL SESSION? The Young Democrats of Georgia drafted a call to action that urges Gov. Brian Kemp and state lawmakers to convene a special legislation to adopt new gun restrictions. The group is working with several Democratic lawmakers to refine the pitch, though GOP leaders have no appetite for such proposals.
All of the national focus on gun policy and mass shootings could sooner or later bleed into Georgia's race for U.S. Senate, where gun violence has not been a big emphasis for either of the major party candidates.
Our colleague Shannon McCaffery writes that while U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock has co-sponsored a plan to ban semiautomatic assault weapons, his campaign is more focused on kitchen table issues at this point.
As for Republican Herschel Walker, he hasn't exactly emphasized the gun issue either - witness his odd Fox News interview solution for school shootings, involving what he said would be the creation of "a department that can look at young men that's looking at women that's looking at social media."
COLLEGE CRUNCH. While Gov. Brian Kemp was in Athens, Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams hosted a “One Georgia Fest” party for graduating high school seniors in Atlanta.
Abrams kicked off the event promising the (mostly) newly eligible voters she’s looking for ways to make college more affordable.
“We know that affordability is an increasing issue in the state but it’s a solvable problem,” Abrams said. “And we don’t have to raise taxes to raise the quality of life in Georgia. All we have to do is spend our money right.”
DELAY. The Fulton County special grand jury investigating former President Donald Trump won't hear from officials in the Georgia Secretary of State's office until later this month. That testimony had been scheduled for this week - but sources told our colleague Tamar Hallerman that the testimony was being temporarily delayed.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger already answered questions behind closed doors in this investigation. Hallerman reports five current and/or former Raffensperger aides were slated to go before the grand jury this week, which is looking into how Trump possibly interfered with the 2020 vote count in Georgia.
FOLD ‘EM: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution editorial board writes today with this word of advice for candidates in Georgia: Don’t undermine faith in elections. More:
For our Democracy to work, voters must have faith in the system.
They need to be certain that their vote counts – and that their voice is heard.
It doesn't help when elected officials – always those on the losing end of a hard-fought race, by the way – undermine the system with claims that the results cannot be trusted.
- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
SHHHH. Donald Trump’s fake electors scheme in Georgia was meant to be kept in absolute secrecy, CNN and the Washington Post reported Monday night, a detail that federal investigators want to know more about.
An email sent by the Trump campaign’s “Georgia elections director” at the time, Robert Sinners, instructed Republican alternate electors to use “complete discretion” as they prepared to create an alternate slate of electors to vote for Trump, instead of for Joe Biden, who won Georgia by about 12,000 votes.
In the email, Sinners also told Trump's electors to misdirect security guards when they arrived at the statehouse, and to tell the guards they were attending a meeting with two state senators, Brandon Beach and Burt Jones.
“Please, at no point should you mention anything to do with Presidential Electors or speak to media," Sinners wrote.
It is unclear if the GOP alternate electors read the email or adhered to Sinners’ directives, but the effort didn’t stay secret for long.
One of your Swing State Insiders tweeted a photo of the room where the group was meeting, just as they gathered in the state Capitol on Dec. 14, 2020. You will note from the explanation that they weren’t exactly telling the truth about what they were doing that day.
The email from Sinners is now in the hands of the Department of Justice, the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, and the Fulton County District Attorney’s office.
And Sinners, the author of the email, has a new job these days. He was recently hired to serve as director of election integrity for Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, our colleague Mark Niesse tells us, helping craft the public message of the agency charged with overseeing the state’s elections.
GUN MAKER MONEY. The Savannah Morning News reports the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform has reached out to Bryan County gun maker Daniel Defense with a series of questions for the company.
Daniel Defense manufactured the AR-15-style rifles used in mass shootings in Uvalde, Tex. and Las Vegas, Nev.
The report includes a deep dive on the company, as well as its political donations, including:
More than $300,000 in donations from founder Marty Daniel to former President Donald Trump’s campaigns;
A $100,000 donation to Gun Owners Action Fund on Jan. 6 to support federal candidates for office;
$22,000 to Gov. Brian Kemp’s reelection campaign, and donations to U.S. Rep. Jody Hice; Attorney General Chris Carr and the Georgia House of Representatives Trust for their 2022 races.
Separately, the company also requested and received $3.1 million in federal PPP loans, which it was not required to repay.
DEBATABLE: The Atlanta Press Club hosted a series of debates for candidates ahead of Georgia’s June 21 runoff elections:
Republicans in Georgia’s 6th and 10th congressional districts jockeyed over conservative credentials, while GOP hopefuls in the 2nd District debated who is best positioned to take on U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop in November;
Democrats in the labor commissioner runoff criticized the state labor department’s performance under its current commissioner, the AJC’s Michael Kanell writes;
The Democratic candidates who participated in the insurance commissioner and lieutenant governor debates -- Janice Laws Robinson and Charlie Bailey -- criticized their opponents who skipped the debates, our colleagues Shannon McCaffrey and Maya T. Prabhu report; and
Mark Niesse wrote that the Democrats in the runoff for Secretary of State, Bee Nguyen and former state Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler, spent much more time criticizing Brad Raffensperger than each other.
Today in Washington:
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will testify on inflation and the economy during a Senate Finance Committee hearing at 10 a.m.;
The Senate Judiciary Committee meets at 10 a.m. for a hearing on domestic terrorism and white supremacy;
The House returns from a two-week recess and has a series of non-controversial votes scheduled;
Senators will hold their weekly party lunches, along with news conferences likely to focus on gun policy and other big ticket items on the agenda. Plus more votes on confirmations.
President Joe Biden will sign into law nine bills related to services for veterans.
OOPS. The Democratic Party of Georgia accidentally emailed its weekly talking points, meant to be shared with local party leaders, to reporters Monday instead.
Of course that means Jolt readers will get a glimpse at what Georgia Democrats want other Georgia Democrats to be talking about:
“1. Brian Kemp continues to show Georgians that he doesn’t care about us as he gambles with our lives, makes our communities less safe, and prevents hundreds of thousands of Georgians from accessing health care.
2. Following over a year of record job growth and low unemployment rates in Georgia, the U.S. economy added 390,000 jobs in May – higher than predicted – thanks in large part to President Biden and Democrats’ leadership.
3. Herschel Walker, now the official GOP nominee for Senate, has proven time and time again that he isn’t up for the job of representing Georgia.”
NEWISH FACE. U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has a new intern: 37-year-old British commentator Milo Yiannopoulos.
The news was immediately picked up by national media who pointed out Yiannopoulos’ many controversies, including racist messages that got him banned from Twitter and remarks about pedophilia that led to his resignation as editor of conservative media outlet Breitbart News.
The far-right provocateur confirmed his new gig on social media Monday with a photo of his intern badge, along with a Louis Vuitton notebook cover on the congresswoman’s Capitol Hill desk.