Gov. Nathan Deal, followed by House Speaker David Ralston, heads to a press conference where he and legislative leaders announced Tuesday a compromise plan for dealing with the massive state windfall created by the federal tax law. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM
Photo: Bob Andres/
Photo: Bob Andres/

Georgia sheriffs disavow a devilish insult aimed at Nathan Deal

You may not know this, but if an active member of your organization declares that the governor reigns over the seventh circle of Hell, there's a chance that said governor won't sign your favorite piece of legislation.

We’re told that the leadership of the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association met with Gov. Nathan Deal on Tuesday to disavow Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills, who last week referred to Deal as “Lucifer” in a criticism of the governor’s effort to reform Georgia’s cash bail system.

The group told the governor that Sills has resigned from all leadership positions within the GSA. The mea maxima culpa from the group continued today. On the desk of every lawmaker this morning was a letter from Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese, president of the sheriffs’ organization.

“I want to make it exceedingly clear that the Association and its members do not agree with the manner in which Sheriff Sills delivered his message,” the letter reads. “We regret his comments have cause insult, and deem them to be inappropriate and unprofessional.”

Read the entire letter here:


Sims himself told a local newspaper that he regretted his devilish comparison, though not the criticism of the proposed legislation.

The Georgia Sheriffs’ Association has reason to patch things up, not just with the governor, but with members of the House, who voiced unusual hostility upon learning of Sills’ remarks.

Backed by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, the Senate recently passed a package of four bills backed by Georgia sheriffs to address issues of pay, benefits, and retention of Georgia’s police, sheriff’s deputies, and jailers.

House members now have the package. And here’s what Speaker David Ralston said about Sills’ remarks last week:

“When I read those comments this morning, I got sick to my stomach. Few things in my public career have I found as disgusting and deplorable as that statement made by a man who wears a badge,” said Ralston. “They are wrong, and they are an embarrassment to an honorable profession.”

Look for more apologies when that pay package get a House committee hearing. If it gets a hearing.

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About the Author

Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway is a three-decade veteran of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution who writes the Political Insider blog and column.

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