Behind the scenes: Tamping down an Ebola panic

If you do not know who Nancy Writebol is, it may be time to crawl out from under your rock.

She’s the second Ebola-infected American, a missionary worker from North Carolina, who is now jetting toward Dobbins Air Reserve Base and a very expensive hospital room within Emory University Hospital.

But several politicians (and a former one) are stepping up to allay any concerns. For instance, Ed Lindsey of Atlanta, who just resigned his Republican House seat, posted this on his Facebook page:

“Hysteria notwithstanding, as a Georgian I am proud that it is a Georgia air service and a Georgia hospital that have the capability to bring these two American humanitarians safely home and care for their illness. May the Peace of The Lord be with those afflicted and those charged with their care.”

In an interview with Tim Bryant on WGAU (1340AM) this morning, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson said he had no doubts that the deadly virus can be properly contained on the Emory/CDC campus:

“I am completely, 100 percent confident that you can do it. Tom Frieden is doing a great job at CDC. This high-containment area that we built after 9/11 is to deal with a contagion virus that might be used by a terrorist. So it’s absolutely secure….

“It is possible for an outbreak like this to be contained and eventually stopped – which is what I think will happen in west Africa. I have no fear whatsoever of it coming to the United States.”

Such support isn’t necessarily impromptu. On Monday, the office of Speaker David Ralston distributed to House members a missive from Emory University, containing educational links on the virus (you can see them here and here), plus the list of Emory’s top lobbyists – Charlie Harman and Linda Womack.

Harman, you’ll recall, is the former chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss.


The Washington Post's Reid Wilson reports that Ending Spending Action Fund Super PAC spent $160,000 on TV ads bashing Democrat Michelle Nunn last week and dropped $180,000 this week on six broadcast markets and cable in Atlanta. The group also reported $63,000 worth of online ads to the FEC. Nunn, meanwhile, is spending $350,000 on TV ads to run from Aug. 1-11.


A new Washington Post/ABC poll offers yet another reason for Jack Kingston’s failure to launch in his U.S. Senate bid last month:

Just over half the public, 51 percent, say they disapprove of the job that their own member of Congress is doing in the new poll, rising above the 50 percent threshold for the first time in the quarter-century of Post-ABC polling on this question. Just 41 percent approve.

That's a new low, though it's not significantly different from ratings last October (43 percent), immediately after the end of a 16-day partial government shutdown that sent Republican approval ratings through the floor.


The New York Times today has U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg reflecting on the inconsistency of her high court colleagues:

In its gay rights rulings, she told a law school audience last week, the court uses the soaring language of “equal dignity” and has endorsed the fundamental values of “liberty and equality.” Indeed, a court that just three decades ago allowed criminal prosecutions for gay sex now speaks with sympathy for gay families and seems on the cusp of embracing a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

But in cases involving gender, she said, the court has never fully embraced “the ability of women to decide for themselves what their destiny will be.” She said the court’s five-justice conservative majority, all men, did not understand the challenges women face in achieving authentic equality.


On his Facebook page, state Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, has confirmed our Monday post:

"Dear Friends,

“I wanted to personally confirm to you that the report from my friend Jim Galloway at the AJC is accurate. After prayerful consideration and the support of both my family and a number of my fellow Senators, I have, with great humility, decided to stand for Majority Leader in the Georgia State Senate.

“Between now and Election Day, 100% of my political effort will be focused on helping to elect David Perdue - U.S. Senate and, of course, to help re-elect Governor Nathan Deal, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, and our entire statewide Georgia Republican Party ticket….”


On WGAU (1340AM) this morning, another state senator – Josh McKoon, the Columbus Republican – played down talk that he would run for the majority leadership. A Facebook page boosting his candidacy, McKoon said, was the work of supporters from outside his south Georgia district.

But McKoon had an interesting response when interlocutors Tim Bryant and Martha Zoller asked the Columbus lawmaker if his advocacy of tougher ethics laws regulating relationships between legislators and lobbyists:

“Over the last four years, I feel very good about the positions I’ve staked out on policy. I think in many cases, later events have confirmed the positions that I’ve taken.

“And I certainly don’t intend on backing off on ethics and other matters that are important to me. In fact, we’re getting ready in the next couple weeks to roll out a series of policy proposals as part of my re-election – and I certainly expect ethics will figure prominently in that.”


Republican challenger Rick Allen is kicking up dust over the Washington staff of U.S. Rep. John Barrow, D-Augusta, who has not yet constructed a full campaign infrastructure. Walter Jones at Morris News Service reports, with the typically colorful quote from Allen spokesman Dan McLagan:

For instance, the congressman pays some of his Washington-based congressional staffers to perform campaign tasks also. [Richard] Carbo, for instance was speaking on behalf of the congressional office Monday but will transition to the re-election payroll once Barrow begins campaigning in earnest. Another aide, Ashley Jones, got $32,000 in fund-raising-consultant fees from his campaign in addition to $38,000 in taxpayer funds that quarter as his longtime congressional chief of staff.

McLagan says the fact that Barrow doesn’t have a big campaign staff in Georgia shows he’s more interested in Washington than Georgia.

“John Barrow has been sipping mimosas with his pinky extended to his lobbyist buddies in Washington for more than a decade now -- he’s gone native,” McLagan said. “He’s got a million dollar house up there, has his campaign office and staff there and probably hates sullying himself with us great unwashed and the red clay of Georgia when he has to campaign here.”

The campaign-expense reports on file with the Federal Elections Commission show expenditures for out-of-state consultants and vendors and practically no Georgia staff or even office rent. However, the next report will show a campaign office opened last month in Augusta and a team of field representatives canvassing for votes, according to Carbo.

“Just as he always does, Congressman Barrow will run his campaign from his hometown of Augusta,” he said.


Texas Gov. Rick Perry has brought in two Georgia hands to run his PAC as he gears up to run for president again. The Dallas Morning News reports that attorney Stefan Passantino of McKenna Long & Aldridge, who advised Newt Gingrich's presidential bid, and Corry Bliss, who managed Karen Handel's U.S. Senate campaign, will guide RickPAC.

National Journal has a long read this week on Perry laying the groundwork for a presidential run, including the whole tale of why he wears glasses now.


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