Category: Issues
The GRA Joins with GRTL & More to Call on the Governor & Republican Legislators to Pass Personhood into State Law

The GRA Joins with GRTL & More to Call on the Governor & Republican Legislators to Pass Personhood into State Law

Monday morning Georgia Right to Life (GRTL) held a press conference announcing that the GRA and dozens of other pro-life organizations have joined to present a petition. We are calling on Governor Brian Kemp and Republican legislators to act now! They need to call a special session to pass a Personhood state constitutional amendment (or at the very least a statute) that will protect the lives of all the preborn!It’s time for Equal Protection under the law for all our children in the womb.

Click the video above to watch the Georgians Ending Abortion Press Conference.

The only pro-life legislation saving the lives of any babies in Georgia right now has been the Fetal Pain Bill which GRTL proposed and successfully lobbied Republicans in the legislature to finally pass in 2012. That legislation prevents abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and, as it was proposed to the legislature, had no “but you can murder the baby this other way” type language. (Establishment Republicans dropped in one vague exception into the bill during the last-minute mad rush of Sine Die in 2012, which GRTL did not approve of nor endorse, and in fact warned could open up the door to eugenics, especially if further expanded.)

Since that bill was passed, however, as a part of Speaker Ralston and other Atlanta Establishment Republican’s efforts to insulate themselves from accountability and consolidate power, they have helped to create a number of pseudo-conservative organizations with a presence at the state capitol— to serve as their “controlled opposition.” These organizations work to provide cover for Republicans to make them look more conservative to the voters back home even when they vote like Democrats.

Liberal Republican State Rep. 
Sharon Cooper

These pseudo-prolife groups pushed for the State House in 2019 to water-down the Heartbeat Bill, they alleged, in order to win the support of wishy-washy so-called “moderate” Republicans such as State Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Cobb), who every year earns a vote scorecard between a “D” and an “F“(high of 45% & low of 38%). In spite of these concessions, Cooper still refused to vote in favor of the Heartbeat Bill along with four other Republicans. One Democrat voted for it, but not these five Republicans.

Of course, more than one of these pseudo-conservative groups have had the audacity to call Sharon Cooper a great champion for the pro-life cause!

As a result of these failed attempts to appease these RINOs, the Heartbeat Bill has a number of unnecessary flaws. First, it does not protect preborn children prior to six weeks gestation. Second, it contains a massive loophole by relying on the medical personnel who could have a monetary interest in murdering the baby to be the sole determiner of whether there is a heartbeat. Third, babies with detectable beating hearts may still be murdered if they were conceived in rape, have a “fetal abnormality” such as Down syndrome, or if the doctor believes intentionally murdering the baby is necessary to treat a complication involving the mother’s well being.

But perhaps the worst part about the Heartbeat Bill is that it asserts that the baby is a human person from the moment of conception, while simultaneously asserting it is okay for someone to murder that child under various circumstances before a doctor admits he heard the child’s heartbeat. One cannot win hearts and minds over to our cause with such a hypocritical—such an internally inconsistent position.

Preborn human baby in a mother’s uterus

The Heartbeat Bill has not been enforced for even one single day over the last nearly four years!

We’ve given them plenty of time to do something with the bill, but not a single baby’s life has been saved by this highly-touted bill. It’s time for Republicans to prove that they really believe life begins “at fertilization”—as is spelled out in the Georgia Republican Party Platform!

We need to provide Equal Protection under the law for every child from the moment of conception without exception. Once again in Georgia it should be a crime. Criminal investigations would still be conducted in accordance with all Due Process addressed in the Bill of Rights, such as the 4th Amendment privacy protections against warrantless searches and seizures not supported by probable cause, and such as the right to a trial by jury. But murder is murder.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN THE PETITION CALLING FOR EQUAL PROTECITON.

After Long-Awaited SCOTUS Victories—Now What?

After Long-Awaited SCOTUS Victories—Now What?

Last Friday, June 24 served as the cap-stone on a week of landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions dealing with issues of School Choice, Gun Rights, and finally the Lives of the Preborn. As an encore, this week they gave us another win for Religious Freedom. For countless pro-lifers, gun rights activists, educators, Christians, conservatives, and just constitutional textualists, these victories have been a long time coming! In fact, many who started these efforts 50 or more years ago have long since passed.
It reminds us that the effort to stand for our principles and promote life and freedom in America is a long-game. But by the grace of God it does pay off.

President Ronald Reagan with a much younger Clarence Thomas in 1986

By at least the 1940s conservatives had started to notice a problem with a growing tyranny within the United States Supreme Court. Yet it wasn’t until the late 1970s that an organized effort began to build to counter-act that trend, to raise up a new generation of jurists to fight back, and to get the Republican Party to help. With the election of Ronald Reagan as President in 1980, for the first time Republicans seemed ready to work to turn things around.

However, the initial results proved mixed at best. Are you old enough to remember? Working with the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate up until 1987, President Reagan successfully got two excellent Justices installed onto the Supreme Court: Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. They were eager to reverse most of the worst court decisions that had contributed to America’s decline in the twentieth century. But the other two appointed under Reagan proved quite the disappointment: Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy. These last two would work to ensure that the court’s tyrannical trend would grow and entrench, often pairing with the liberal justices to thwart one conservative effort after another for the next 20 years.

Former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor

We could give Reagan a mulligan for Kennedy. After all, Republicans had just lost control of the U.S. Senate in the 1986 election, and Reagan had previously offered two exceptional judicial nominees in Robert Bork and Doug Ginsberg that the Democrat Senate had turned down before Kennedy was offered as a compromise candidate. But there was no excuse for Sandra Day O’Connor. Republicans in control simply failed to properly vet her just because she was a woman, and they wanted to make good on the promise to appoint the first woman to the Supreme Court. It was an early example of the folly of identity politics.

That mixed trend continued under President George H.W. Bush, who appointed another stellar conservative in Justice Clarence Thomas, but an awful disappointment in Justice David Souter. Thankfully, Thomas has endured on the court while O’Connor, Kennedy, and Souter (finally!) retired.

Under Democrat Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama the liberals got nothing but consistent liberal Justices appointed to the court. They weren’t playing games. “Liberal” didn’t mean pro-liberty; “liberal” meant more liberal intrusion of the federal government, and a more liberally “fast and loose” interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.

Demonstrators during D.C. v. Heller

President George W. Bush continued the mixed success for Republicans, though, in appointing the terrific Justice Samuel Alito and the quite disappointing Chief Justice John Roberts. Again, there was no excuse for this mistake since Republicans controlled all of Capitol Hill at this time. President Bush even originally was going to appoint Harriet Miers instead of Alito, but the outcry from conservatives was so strong that Bush had to relent. Then a shift started to happen.

In 2008 for the first time SCOTUS reversed itself on a series of repeatedly encroaching decisions that involved gun rights with D.C. v. Heller. Prior to graduating from law school, I had the opportunity to personally witness the oral arguments before the Supreme Court in Heller. It was a momentous occasion. A bright glimmer of hope. It wasn’t just the first major reversal for gun rights, but virtually the first major reversal for conservatives of any kind for the court in decades.

Then when Justice Antonin Scalia unfortuitously died in 2016, most of us thought that was the end of any hope of fully reversing the court’s tyranny in our lifetime. Thankfully, U.S. Senate Republicans had enough fortitude to prevent out-going President Obama from appointing Scalia’s replacement.

Next, do you remember the 2016 presidential elections? For many of us who had been paying close attention to what had been going on in the United States Supreme Court for decades, we trusted that despite whatever other weaknesses U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) might have, he as a conservative attorney at least knew very well what was going on with jurisprudence in D.C. and what kind of Justice the next President would need to appoint to help turn things around. We didn’t have the same confidence in presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Businessman Donald Trump and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz during the 
2016 presidential Republican Primary

Cruz pressed Trump on the question of who he would appoint to the U.S. Supreme Court, and Trump agreed with Cruz on the type of Justices that needed to be appointed—a key point that helped Cruz supporters feel more comfortable getting behind Trump for the Republican nomination.

And President Trump made good on his word. Working with the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate, and listening closely to conservatives, President Trump appointed three conservative Justices to the court that provided a cushion for when Chief Justice Roberts acted up. It is very likely President Trump’s federal judicial appointments will be the most lasting positive legacy of his presidency.

Trump’s three appointments:
Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, & Barrett

Yet until this previous week, all of those three appointed Justices had not yet been fully field tested. After so many previous disappointments, we were still holding our breath in suspense waiting for another possible letdown.

They didn’t let us down. This time Republicans delivered. They delivered because conservatives hounded them relentlessly. And when Republicans deliver, it makes us want to get out and vote for them again!

We don’t mean to suggest that these Justices are perfect either individually or collectively, but they do represent a major course correction in the federal court that has been a long time coming.

Pro-life activists Saturday

So while many statists and liberals took to the street this weekend to complain and protest about the decisions, many of us were celebrating. I was grateful for the opportunity to speak on behalf of pro-life activists like many of you to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Over the last 40 years, there have been so many opportunities for them to do this and … they haven’t had the courage to do it, they’ve missed opportunities, and then all of a sudden, they finally did it! We’re just so excited. Can’t believe we lived to see this day.”

Which Republicans Voted for the Terrible Version of H.B. 1013?

Which Republicans Voted for the Terrible Version of H.B. 1013?

First, who were the Republican authors who joined with two Democrats to author this terrible legislation in its original form? Answer:

• Speaker David Ralston, Vote Scorecard Rating: “F”
• State Rep. Todd Jones, Vote Scorecard Rating: “D”
• State Rep. Don Hogan, Vote Scorecard Rating: “D”
• State Rep. Sharon Cooper (Cobb), Vote Scorecard Rating: “D”

The fact that these were willing to propose a bill that had all the things in it that the original version had says a lot about them. It also says a lot that these House Republicans voted to rubber-stamp the proposal without any changes:

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The GRA Passes Resolution Calling for Withdrawal of Children from Civil Government Schools

The GRA Passes Resolution Calling for Withdrawal of Children from Civil Government Schools

Fayetteville, GA—At the GRA State Convention on Saturday, the GRA membership passed a series of strong resolutions addressing several hot-button controversies of the day. Among them was a resolution to “END INDOCTRINATION OF CHILDREN IN GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS.”

The text of the resolution was unique in that it called upon families and parents to take action to solve a societal problem, rather than calling upon anyone in civil government to act. The text of the resolution reads in full:

WHEREAS, the civil government school system has been the primary promoter of socialistic, anti-Republican ideas in our communities; and

WHEREAS, the government school has been responsible for countless children from Republican homes turning against the principles that were taught to them by their parents and has led to many graduates voting Democrat; and

WHEREAS, government schools have proven themselves to be untrustworthy by forbidding prayer and the teaching of the Bible, and promoting Critical Race Theory, cultural Marxism, sexual deviancy, abortion, atheism, evolutionism, mandated vaccination and other false and harmful ideas; and

WHEREAS, Critical Race Theory is a flagrant attempt to teach unveiled, hard-core Marxism and racism; and

WHEREAS, the conservative exposure and intervention that prevented certain schools from teaching Critical Race Theory this year in no way guarantees government schools will not attempt this kind of indoctrination again in the future with greater success; and

WHEREAS, this damaging indoctrination usually occurs before parents are made aware of it or have organized to oppose it; and

WHEREAS, parental protest and interference at school board meetings has proven to be insufficient at checking the advance and of leftism and has only brought parents under investigation for being “domestic terrorists”; and

WHEREAS, the sustainability of all conservative victories are at risk if the next generation does not understand and embrace Republican values, which are American values;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the GA Republican Assembly calls upon all Republican families to immediately remove their children from these harmful facilities and pursue alternative education options and furthermore suggests that local church leaders and Republicans without school-age children designate a portion of their volunteer time and personal resources to assist struggling families in their community in the pursuit of alternative education options.”

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Catoosa RAs & Liberty Watchdogs Defeat Redevelopment Powers in Ringgold, GA

Catoosa RAs & Liberty Watchdogs Defeat Redevelopment Powers in Ringgold, GA

Northwest GA—On Tuesday, voters in Ringgold, Fort Oglethorpe, and Catoosa County all overwhelmingly rejected a controversial Redevelopment Powers proposal on the ballot that would have given the local municipalities the authority to create “Tax Allocation Districts” (TADs) and provide Tax Increment Financing for redevelopment.

These redevelopment powers operate on the premise that “blight makes right”! That is, any part of the community which the local government agency deems to be “blighted” can become a “project area” and be artificially stimulated by tax dollars through corporate welfare to developers. A similar measure was defeated earlier this year in Whitfield County.

One of the concerns expressed by voters was the permanence of this proposal, if adopted. Like many additional or emergency powers, when once surrendered by the people and seized by the civil government, they have no expiration date and power thus surrendered is not easily restored.

Joanna Hildreth
Joanna Hildreth

Joanna Hildreth wears many hats as an activist in the area. In addition to serving on the GRA Executive Committee, Joanna was elected this year as the Catoosa County GOP Chair, and she serves as the Vice President of the Northwest GA Republican Assembly chapter. She was very pleased with the outcome of the vote on Tuesday: “I opposed the referendum because at the root it increases the government’s power. I believe in small government, and this was a step in the other direction. We can’t trust that every county board in the future will wield these additional powers wisely. If the referendum had passed, the people would never be able to vote to end it. Only the governor has that authority.”

The Catoosa GOP voted to publicly oppose the Redevelopment Powers—in opposition to their state legislator and fellow Republicans State Rep. Dewayne Hill (R-Ringgold) [who has an “F” on his GRA Voting Scorecard, by the way] and Rep. Steve Tarvin (R-Chickamauga) who together co-authored HB 778, HB 764, and HB 766, the legislation that put the Redevelopment Powers question on the ballots in the first place. “The GOP precinct chairs were instrumental in calling voters, door-knocking, and sign-waving,” Hildreth explained. “Mitchell Horner, Ringgold precinct chairman of the Catoosa GOP and chair of our policy committee, started the Committee on Catoosa Taxation to raise money and purchase signs.”

The Catoosa GOP partnered with other groups like the Northwest GA Republican Assembly and also utilized social media, radio and television interviews.

Liberty activist Nick Ware attended the October 4th Town Hall meeting about Redevelopment Powers that was held at the Colonnade. “After I heard that presentation I knew I had to push forward,” he said. “I wan’t going to let the ‘powers that be’ have power forever and not stand up!” With that inspiration, Nick decided to put his liberty convictions in action and prepared a presentation about the potential danger of this measure and began spreading the word in the County. Ware and many Catoosa voters believed this measure was problematic for various reasons: it’s interference with the free market, the indebtedness it would create, the lack of accountability, and the special favors and deals it would allow to be given to the political elite and their friends.

“I utilized as many tools as I could to educate the voters,” said Ware.

Threat of Eminent Domain Prompts Emotional Response

Catoosa homeowners were also concerned about the threat of property seizure through eminent domain under this proposal.

“Supporters say if you keep your property looking tidy, you have nothing to worry about. But what about the elderly and disabled who can’t keep their house tidy?” said Nick Ware.

Nick expressed concern for people like the elderly couple who live and operate a small fruit stand on Boynton Road against whom a complaint had recently been filed or the woman overcome with worry and brought nigh to tears because her property borders an area intended to be developed. “I advised her to just hold out and see how the vote goes”, he said, “and she was very happy to hear about the outcome.”

Originally, eminent domain required proof that a property was being taken for “public use” such as the widening of a road, but in 2017 Georgia law was amended to allow local governments to use eminent domain to condemn blighted property and transfer it to a private developer for purposes of economic development. Of course, the original property owner is still entitled to receive what the civil government officials deem “just compensation,” but what is that to the owner of his childhood home or the property that has been passed down through family generations?

Not all Catoosa citizens share these concerns, however. John Pless, the Public Information Officer for Catoosa County told the Chattanooga Times Free Press, “What this would have done is essentially leverage the power of government to redevelop blighted areas. This was not a tax increase, and it was absolutely not a land grab.”

The referendum question was only narrowly defeated in the City of Fort Oglethorpe with only 51.05% voting “No” to Redevelopment Powers, and in the City of Ringgold 60.29% voted “No.” However, in Catoosa County voters rejected it by a staggering 82.55 percent! The fact that the measure failed in all three districts, to the local GRA and liberty activists, is a triumph worth celebrating. Voter turnout was remarkably low with only 4,927 ballots cast for the entire County, a mere fraction of the 32,099 votes cast in Catoosa in the 2020 Presidential election. Some voters have suspicions that controversial measures like these are intentionally put forward in election years where voter participation is expected to be low in order to increase their chances. But the vigilance and community organization of grass roots activists were able to win the day in spite of the low turnout.

George Bettersby protested the TAD in the public comments portion of the October 21 Catoosa Board of Commissioners Meeting. He said, “The county has a horrible reputation for conflicts of interest… The County has had so much problems trying to explain the TAD to taxpayers, they even brought in an expert from Atlanta to try and explain it to us old rednecks. Certainly the devil is in the details. However, one thing you can bank on: the local builders, developers will get richer on the aching backs of our taxpayers young and old.”

While some voters may not fully understand Redevelopment Powers, Tuesdays polling showed they were nonetheless skeptical and may have reasoned intuitively that, if government officials were not asking for more money and more power, they wouldn’t have to get voters permission with a new ballot referendum.

An Ideological Ballot Question

The proposal was very broad and generic in nature and did not specify a certain area or a private developer that would benefit from it. This means the underlying question put to the voters was ideological:

Should local government have the power to artificially stimulate or develop an area that the free market has rejected and is therefore not developing organically?

Should the government provide enhancements that were not merited in the free market?

Should local government have the power to seize private property, against the will of the property owners in order to accomplish the community enhancements that elected officials deem beneficial?

The triple rejection of this proposal by the Cities of Ringgold, Fort Oglethorpe and Catoosa County is likely an indication of voters core worldview and fundamental beliefs about the role of government in the lives of the citizenry. A belief that would appear to differ from their elected representatives Dewayne Hill (R-Ringgold) and Steve Tarvin (R-Chickamauga) who sponsored the legislation.

The GRA Calls Out Fulton GOP for Fundraising for Atlanta Democrat

The GRA Calls Out Fulton GOP for Fundraising for Atlanta Democrat

“Fulton County GOP corruption strikes again!” The Georgia Republican Assembly has joined with voices of other concerned Republican political activists in metro-Atlanta by expressing their shock and displeasure at yet another new antic of the Fulton GOP.

The Fulton County Republican Party posted on their official Fulton County GOP web site, which is paid for with donations to the Fulton GOP, a brochure advertising a fundraiser for Democrat Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore. Moore is running for Mayor of Atlanta.

Screenshot of the fundraiser for a Democrat on the Fulton GOP web site

In addition, the Fulton GOP Chair Trey Kelly and his fellow Fulton GOP officer Ashford Schwall appear on this fundraiser event for the Democrat Atlanta City Council President! In addition to serving as officers of the Fulton GOP, Trey and Ashford are also on the Georgia 11th District Republican Party Commitee along with many members of the Cobb Republican Party, the Bartow Republican Party, and the Cherokee Republican Party. Michelle Carver from Fulton, the wife of 11th District GOP Chair Brad Carver (who was formerly found giving public donations to Democrat candidates) also included her name on the fundraiser event.

This is a clear-cut violation of the bylaws for the 11th District GOP and arguably a violation of GAGOP bylaws that prohibit any Republican officer from providing public support to a Democrat. For example, in the 11th District GOP bylaws, it states under Section 2.07 that officers of the 11th District Committee may be removed “for cause,” and it defines “cause” as, among other things:

“ii. Conduct detrimental to the party.”

“iii. Any public support, including financial support, of any candidate or nominee of an opposition party …”

The Rules of the Eleventh District Republican Committee, § 2.07 (b).

Holding a fundraiser for a candidate who is currently serving in office as a Democrat seems to be conduct “detrimental to the party.”

Members of the Fulton GOP who defended the actions of its officers argued that because Felicia Moore is running for Mayor of Atlanta, and the mayoral race is non-partisan, the rules of the party were not violated. We beg to differ. Both the letter and definitely the spirit of the rules are clearly violated.

Unlike some of the nitpickiness about rules that has been scattered lately in various GAGOP controversies on social media, this is a violation that strikes at the heart of why we have separate party organizations.

The response from those trying to justify the fundraiser also illustrates the disconnect within the group we call “the Establishment,” who care only about political power (rather than the Republican principles) in the Atlanta “swamp”:

Felicia Moore is currently holding office as a Democrat. Whether the particular office she is now running for is partisan or not, we know from the candidate’s political identification, current partisan office, track record, and worldview what the policies are she is going to promote if elected to new office! She is not going to be promoting policies that are consistent with Republican principles; she will be promoting Democrat policies. She will work to advance the Democrat Party in Fulton and squelch the Republican candidates in Fulton. No wonder then there was so many reports of election fraud coming from Fulton last year!

To put it another way: If you rename Atilla the Hun as “Joe Smiley,” it makes him no less dangerous. If you rename a bottle of arsenic as “sleeping potion,” it makes it no less dangerous. And if you rename a Democrat a “non-partisan,” it makes her no less dangerous!

“[E]lecting Democrats (even if they’re calling themselves non-partisan),” wrote GRA President Alex Johnson, “simply helps them [the Democrats] with fundraising and name ID. So then they can donate money to other Democrats (like Stacey Abrams) and their endorsement may sway others. It also gives them a perceived platform to advertise their brand (Democrat governance).”

“The GOP is a brand and a team,” Alex said. “As a brand, imagine it/your brand as Coca-Cola. Does Coca-Cola host events and then serve Pepsi at them, or suggest that people try out Pepsi products? No. What about having Pepsi and Coke both available, but just without labels on them? No again.”

“The Democrat Party,” GRA NFRA Director Nathaniel Darnell added, “stands for agendas that are immoral. Things like murdering the helpless and stealing from others. What Republican doesn’t acknowledge that murder and stealing are evil? Anyone who is a part of that becomes an accessory to that kind of evil activity. How can we in good conscience provide any kind of promotion to political candidates who are part of a party working to advance these kinds of evil statist activities?”

Furthermore, multiple Fulton activists have pointed out that there were one or two candidates who were Republicans also running for Mayor of Atlanta. Devonta “Sully” Sullivan was one candidate running who is reported to be a Republican, but the Fulton GOP and its officers are not throwing support behind any of them, nor are they seeking to recruit any better Republican candidate to run. With moments like this, we find ourselves wondering why the Fulton GOP thinks they exist. “With Republicans like you, who needs Democrats?”

The Cobb County chapter of the GRA initially posted on social media about this issue when the story first broke on Saturday, October 9th. The fundraiser was held on Friday, October 8th.

On October 22nd the Buckhead Young Republicans announced they are following the example of their elder peers and also hosting an event to promote an Atlanta Democrat running for Mayor. However, the Buckhead YRs would be giving attention to Felicia Moore’s opponent, the former incumbent Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. One significant difference between the events, however, is that the Fulton GOP event was specifically described as a fundraiser, while the Buckhead YR event appears listed as only a candidate speaking forum. Since the Fulton GOP has already made clear that they regard this race as an “anything goes” because the candidates are “non-partisan,” it appears they have no basis to complain against their youthful counterparts supporting this opponent to their preferred candidate.

Do Politicians Serve You, or Do You Serve Them?

Do Politicians Serve You, or Do You Serve Them?

Fellow Republican,

What is the easiest way to kill a volunteer political organization?

Try to silence the voice of volunteers and refuse to take a stand for accountability of politicians/elected employees.

The Republican Party in Georgia is better equipped to fight than it has been for years. As discussed previously (link) many, many new people have joined the GOP in Georgia to demand accountability and principled candidates for office, and a loud, toxic minority in the GOP , mostly who think that the rest of us should blindly follow their “expertise” are doing whatever they can to stop it.

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Whitfield Voters Reject Tax Allocation District as “Crony Capitalism”

Whitfield Voters Reject Tax Allocation District as “Crony Capitalism”

On Tuesday, Whitfield County voters once again rejected Redevelopment Powers that would have granted the Board of Commissioners the authority to create an additional Tax Allocation District within the County. GRA members in Whitfield County are overjoyed to see this kind of “Crony Capitalist” attempt get shot down by a majority vote with 1,986 people voting “No” and only 1,395 voting “Yes.”

Redevelopment Powers were approved by the voters for several Cities in 2014, but were rejected by the voters for the unincorporated areas of Whitfield County. The Dalton Daily Citizen reported that Chairman Jevin Jensen, prior to the vote, suggested that now that the County voters have seen TADs in use, they may be more receptive to the idea, but Tuesday’s election proved otherwise.

The March 16th special election was intended to fill the term of the late Commissioner Roger Crossen who passed away in office last year. This election, which was originally only going to be held in District 3 of the County was expected to have very low voter turnout, until Representative Kasey Carpenter seized the opportunity to include a question about controversial Redevelopment Powers.

The question was placed on the ballot due to the passage of HB61 in the 2021 legislative session which granted Whitfield County the authority to “…cary out community redevelopment, to create tax allocation districts, to issue tax allocation bonds,…” and required that this Act must be put before the voters for approval or rejection.

State Rep. Kasey Carpenter

The author of the bill was GA State Representative Kasey Carpenter (R-Dalton), who is himself a Dalton business owner whose private hotel enterprise has, in the past, come under criticism for being the recipient of this kind of corporate welfare. In 2018 he was the recipient of Tax Increment Financing which uses tax payer dollars to help fund private enterprise for business owners in attractive occupational fields, who have the right connections and who can persuasively convince the local government officials that their business venture will eventually increase tax revenue. Many Whitfield taxpayers have had cause to wonder if they too could make a similar argument for why they should be spared the tax burden other citizens and businesses bear? 

Couldn’t most of us, if given a tax break and additional financing from the government, stimulate the economy and eventually create more tax revenue for the County too?

In less than a month, this cronyist bill was fast tracked through the legislative process and then signed by the Governor. The co-sponsors were Rep. Carpenter’s fellow Northwest Georgia officials Rep. Jason Ridley (R-Chatsworth) and Rep. Steve Tarvin (R-Chickamauga) all of whom would appear somewhat out of touch with their more conservative constituency which disapproves of this kind of corporate welfare scheme. 

When the Redevelopment Powers (TAD) question was added to the March 16 ballot, the election became county-wide which then forced all the voting precincts to open, not just those in District 3. The opening of these additional precincts is estimated to have cost the taxpayers an additional $25,000 in administration, for which Rep. Carpenter drew some additional criticism from the Whitfield GOP who called it “special interests”. For most of the County, the entire ballot contained only one referendum question and the voters were so strongly against it, they were willing to take time away from their jobs and families to show up and let their voice be heard in a decisive “No”. 

Whitfield County, Georgia

Crony Capitalism (which really isn’t capitalism at all) is defined as: 

An economy in which success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials. It may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, or other forms of state interventionism.

The idea behind “Redevelopment Powers” stems from a belief that it is the role of local government to “plan”, “develop”, or “create growth” within the economy. TADs are believed to be a tool at the Commissioners’ disposal to aid them in that task.  

By Georgia law, less than 10% of the County can be included in a Tax Allocation District, which means that a small portion of taxpayers get special tax treatment and have the potential for government funds to help finance their operations. This kind of compartmentalization for special treatment is by definition discriminatory, and forces the other 90% of the County to bear an unfair tax burden.

The City or in this case the County, designates a specific geographic area that has the potential for redevelopment but suffers from blight or underinvestment. A TAD incentivizes developers by “freezing” the current property values and then as the properties are improved, the taxable value increases. Other unelected boards tasked with this kind of economic planning are sometimes called a Joint Development Authority, and are appropriately named because they create a marriage between private business and local government for the purpose of development which they claim is mutually beneficial. The loser in this kind of deal is usually the oblivious taxpayer and the hard working small business owner who does not have the team of lawyers, accountants and political connections to be able to secure government subsidies.

This type of scheme is becoming more and more commonplace. It is estimated that over $500 million in TAD bonds have been issued in the state of Georgia alone.

Because this type of cronyism occurs at the local level, it represents a great opportunity for conservative activists to engage effectively and restore free market principles for their community.

Our Founding Fathers recognized that alliances between big business and big government had enormous potential for corruption, partiality, and inequality. These alliances often lead to unjust judgment on the part of Government leaders which is warned against in Leviticus 19:15:

“Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.”

The Founders did not assign government the role of engineering the perfect economy, creating jobs or making loans to entrepreneurs that they believe to be worthy. Rather, the jurisdiction of civil government envisioned by the Founding Fathers was extremely limited focused primarily on justice and defense, and was economically neutral thereby allowing the organic free market to pick the winners and losers. 

Founding Father James Madison

“A just security to property is not afforded by that government, under which unequal taxes oppress one species of property and reward another species: where arbitrary taxes invade the domestic sanctuaries of the rich, and excessive taxes grind the faces of the poor; where the keenness and competitions of want are deemed an insufficient spur to labor, and taxes are again applied, by an unfeeling policy, as another spur; in violation of that sacred property, which Heaven, in decreeing man to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow, kindly reserved to him, in the small repose that could be spared from the supply of his necessities.
… such a government is not a pattern for the United States.

“If the United States mean to obtain or deserve the full praise due to wise and just governments, they will equally respect the rights of property, and the property in rights: they will rival the government that most sacredly guards the former; and by repelling its example in violating the latter, will make themselves a pattern to that and all other governments.”  – James Madison, National Gazette, 27 March 1792