Jason Carter's campaign calls GOP attack on HOPE a 'shameful lie'

We now have the second Democrat to use the "L" word -- as in "lie" -- about a Republican attack.

Georgia voters began receiving robocalls over the weekend from a female narrator claiming that Democrat Jason Carter "wants to eliminate the HOPE scholarship for thousands of middle-class families." The end of the recording, which you can hear below, says it was paid for by the Georgia Republican Party.

It ends thusly: "Vote no on Jason Carter. HOPE is too important." Here's the clip of the recording, provided by Carter's campaign:

This has the makings of a coordinated campaign. We told you this morning of the weekend mailer sent out by the Georgia GOP, on the same theme:

Carter's campaign manager, Matt McGrath, called it a "shameful lie from a desperate politician" and said Republican Gov. Nathan Deal is to blame for changes that have led to fewer HOPE recipients. Republicans stand by the ad, and say that Democrats would have eventually limited HOPE eligibility to families with a household income of $100,000  or less.

For your backstory, the Democrat contends that HOPE is "vanishing" under Deal's watch and has advocated for an income cap for the program that would grant full tuition to needier students. He has called any changes that reduce the number of HOPE recipients a "failure -- both for our students and for our economy."

The state senator is referring to changes that Deal championed in his first year in office that the governor said were needed to ensure the scholarship's long-term viability. Those changes, which had bipartisan backing, cut HOPE awards for all but the top students and required technical college students to maintain a 3.0 grade-point average -- instead of a 2.0 -- to qualify for a HOPE grant.

The latter change was a big deal. Technical college officials would later report that 11,471 of their students lost the HOPE grant as a result of the change, about 11 percent of 107,629 full-time students enrolled in 2011. The lower grade requirements were restored during the 2013 legislative session.

Carter proposed limiting eligibility to families with an income of $140,000 or less, but Deal and his allies say that number is "baloney" because it would only exclude 6 percent of Georgia's families from HOPE eligibility. Georgia median household income, by the way, hovers a bit below $50,000.

"While no economists have run the numbers," the Deal campaign said in a dispatch, "we know the cap would have to dip far below $100,000 per household to keep up with Carter’s Obama-like spending promises".

GOP spokesman Ryan Mahoney confirmed the robo-call was paid for and authorized by the Georgia GOP. He said Carter's proposal would have inevitably meant that middle-class families got kicked off the program.

"That's true," said Mahoney. "That's what an income cap does."

The other "L" word incident? Michelle Nunn, the Democratic nominee for Senate, this month called a TV spot from Republican David Perdue that accuses her of giving money to terrorist-linked organizations “a terrible lie.”

Here's the transcript of the robo-call, provided by the GOP:

Hello. I’m Sarah and I’m calling on behalf of the Georgia Republican Party … because I’ve got some important information that you need to hear.

In the race for governor… one candidate wants to ELIMINATE the HOPE Scholarship for thousands of middle class families.

That’s right - eliminate HOPE.

That candidate is Jason Carter. He wants to cancel HOPE Scholarships to many Georgia students who have worked hard, gotten good grades, and qualified.

I know, It’s shameful.

Actually, Jason Carter even wants to kill HOPE Scholarships for students who’ve met academic requirements, putting college out of reach for many of Georgia's brightest students here at home.

That’s just wrong.

If you’re like me - you’ve worked hard and saved to make sure your children have the best future possible. We can’t let Jason Carter cancel HOPE for Georgia families.

On November 4th, Vote No on Jason Carter. HOPE is too important.

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.