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A Georgia GOP split brews over Export-Import Bank

Caterpillar's new manufacturing plant near Bogart and Athens, which opened in 2013. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com
Caterpillar's new manufacturing plant near Bogart and Athens, which opened in 2013. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

Credit: Jim Galloway

Credit: Jim Galloway

Up in Washington, we've got a split in Georgia's Republican congressional delegation forming over the continued existence of the Export-Import Bank.

We told you that U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Savannah, is taking heat from Club for Growth over his support for the agency, which underwrites trade deals between U.S. companies and their foreign customers. The bank's authority is set to expire June 30. From that post:

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[Carter's] district is home to business-plane manufacturer Gulfstream Aerospace Corp., which depends heavily on Export-Import Bank guarantees to sell its own planes overseas.

“Obviously, the largest private employer in the 1st District — I have to pay attention to someone who employs over 10,000 people in our district,” Carter said in an interview. “I don’t represent special interest groups in Washington, D.C.”

But the conservative agitators at Heritage Action for America report that another Georgia freshman, U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Monroe, has come out against extending the Export-Import Bank.

Hice's office has confirmed the statement, but so far has declined to discuss it.

On Wednesday, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece, former Texas governor and likely GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry renounced his former support for the Export-Import Bank. A taste:

The problem is this: We won't have the moral credibility to reduce corporate taxes if we continue to subsidize corporate exports for corporations that already enjoy low effective tax rates, like General Electric and Boeing . We won't have the moral credibility to reform government programs that benefit future retirees if we don't first reform government programs that benefit big businesses like Caterpillar . We won't be able to give businesses more regulatory latitude if we continue to operate a government bank with an emerging record of corporate corruption.

Caterpillar? Yeah, the company has that new plant in Hice's 10th Congressional District.

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On another trade front, U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., confirmed this week that he is joining Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in backing trade promotion authority to allow a smoother passage for the super-sized Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Perdue told us Georgia's farmers and small manufacturers stand to benefit the most, and emphasized Congress will still have an up-or-down vote to scrutinize the final deal, even after it passes TPA. Said Perdue:

"It's not perfect. No trade agreement is perfect in this world. But I think this goes a long way to allowing us to compete. We've got to grow our exports. That's one way to grow the economy."

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U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton, has already found his 2016 campaign photo. From his Facebook page:

Most of you know that whenever I have some free time when I'm back home from Washington, DC (which admittedly is not too much these days with a newborn), I love to hunt. According to the GA Dept. of Natural Resources, I shot the biggest deer in the state of Georgia last year! Thanks for the recognition Wiregrass Farmer!

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The Columbia Journalism Review has a piece called "Georgia governor vs. local media" with a special observation from Nathan Deal spokesman Brian Robinson:

"I just want this story to die."

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On that note, Deal's spokesman and his erstwhile adversaries on Jason Carter's campaign were in vintage form on Twitter responding to the story on Site Selection magazine's latest rankings.

The niche publication, whose accolades Deal featured in his re-election bid last year, had Georgia going from first to tenth in its latest competitiveness rankings. That prompted this broadside from Matt McGrath, the Democrat's former campaign manager:

Then from Brian Robinson, Deal's top spokesman:

Bryan Thomas, Carter's ex-flak, chimed in:

Apparently, Robinson has made amends with Carter - if not his staff - in the last few weeks:

Five bucks to any reader who can send us that pic.

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Attorney General Sam Olens just inherited one of the state's biggest offices.

Gov. Nathan Deal on Wednesday inked Senate Bill 148, which shifts the Office of Consumer Protection from his oversight to the Attorney General's Office come July.

Olens said he'll try to walk the line between protecting consumers from abusive practices and avoiding harsh penalties on businesses who admit "honest mistakes" and take action to remedy them.

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The left-leaning New Republic magazine is out with a critical look at Secretary of State Brian Kemp that includes new details on a 2012 case with an Asian-American voters group:

After more than a week of seeking answers from the office of Georgia's Republican secretary of state, which oversees elections, AALAC issued a sharply worded open letter on October 31 demanding that Georgia take immediate action to ensure the new citizens could vote.

Two days later Ho received her response. In a letter, Brian Kemp, Georgia's Republican secretary of state, offered few specific assurances about the new voters in question and informed Ho that his office was launching an investigation into how AALAC registered these would-be voters. Kemp's office asked that AALAC turn over certain records of its registration efforts, citing "potential legal concerns surrounding AALAC's photocopying and public disclosure of voter registration applications."

TNR reports that the case was resolved in March when the Secretary of State's office found no violations by AALAC. Ho says some of those new citizens still aren't on the voting rolls.

Full disclosure: Helen Ho is the spouse of AJC writer Rodney Ho.

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