A look at Jack Kingston's free lunches

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If you're a member of Congress and suggest that kids ought to be taught that there are no free lunches, your problem isn't the idea itself. The problem is a lack of moral high ground.

Last night, WSAV-TV in Savannah – hometown of U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston – picked a little more at the Republican Senate candidate’s recent suggestion that free lunches in public schools ought to come with a broom or a mop.

As you can see in the video above, WSAV morning anchor Dave Kartunen added up the tens of thousands of dollars in meals that Kingston and his staff charge to taxpayers, campaign contributors and host countries on overseas visits.

The report concludes by catching up with Kingston at a noon campaign event. “Isn’t this a free lunch?” the congressman is asked.

Here’s how Kingston, who recently allowed himself to be photographed behind a vacuum cleaner, chose to reply:

"This is what we need in America: We need workfare over welfare. I learned a lot when I was 14 and 15 years old, doing work inside and outside the household. And as a result, I grew up with a good work ethic. It's hard in today's society to have a discussion where you want to challenge the status quo because of the 'I got you' politics."


A list of new committee assignments for the state House, now circulating in preparation for Monday's start of the 2014 legislative session, shows one major change: State Rep. Chuck Sims, R-Ambrose, has lost his committee chairmanship.  

Jan Tankersly, R-Brooklet, is the new chairman of the House Intragovernmental Coordination Committee. Sims was arrested last July for his second DUI in four months.


State Sen. Don Balfour, R-Snellville, couldn't even top the $6,000 fundraising mark the last six months. The powerful interests that flooded him with campaign donations turned off the spigot while he was facing charges he stole public funds by filing false expense reports.

Yet post-acquittal, as he gears up for an awkward legislative session and a tough re-election campaign, his disclosure report shows he's still sitting on a pile of more than $675,000 in his campaign piggy bank.

He hasn't used a cent of that to pay for legal defense that he's said runs into the six figures, another hint that he could ask the state to pay the tab.

In the meantime, Balfour has continued to put himself out there – perhaps to tamp down the attention he’s likely to generate when he walks back into the Capitol on Monday. Here’s an interview with Lori Geary of Channel 2 Action News:

And in this extended interview with Denis O'Hayer of WABE (90.1FM), Balfour says he'll now be paying more attention to issues that affect the judiciary. The lack of funding for public defenders in Georgia, for instance.


In the Republican race for governor, a few of state School Superintendent John Barge's disclosures have raised some eyebrows. The first is  his $10,000 payment to a political consultant named James Lafferty, who has come under fire from Muslim groups for his role heading the Virginia Anti-Shariah Task Force.

To many campaigns, a $10k payout is a drop in the bucket, but for Barge it represents almost 10 percent of his total haul. His campaign manager, Joel Thornton, called us to make clear that Lafferty was to serve as a "general political consultant" and that shariah legislation won't suddenly become a part of Barge's platform.

The superintendent also took in $20,000 -- his biggest single contribution -- from ITTI Global, a Duluth-based foundation with ties to South Korea's education ministry and the Georgia Department of Education. Said Thornton of the donation: "The owner of ITTI is someone we consider a good friend. He believes in John's bid to become Georgia's next governor and therefore made a contribution."


Meanwhile, the Dalton Daily Citizen offers up the numbers generated by Gov. Nathan Deal's other GOP primary challenger, Mayor David Pennington of Dalton:

"We knew from Day One he (Deal) was going to outspend us," Pennington said. "We thought he was actually going to raise more, $5 million-plus (in the second half of the year. There was nothing alarming to us about this report. There is nothing discouraging about this. We now have enough money to pay our overhead. We don't have the overhead he does, and we are raising money for television and direct mail."


We told you yesterday how Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle was sitting pretty on a mountain of campaign cash -- some $1.4 million. His Democratic opponent, former state Sen. Connie Stokes, isn't so fortunate.  She's raised about $11,000 since abandoning her gubernatorial run -- when fellow Democrat Jason Carter jumped in back in November. The brunt of the donations come from accounts controlled by elected officials, including Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, and Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson, D-Tucker.


The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer is reporting that U.S. Sanford Bishop has declared himself cancer-free:

According to an official statement released by Bishop's office, that chemotherapy ended Nov.4. It was designed to dissolve and kill cancer cells so that the surgery to follow would require the removal of significantly less tissue from his neck and throat.

Doctors at George Washington University had found no cancer in other parts of Bishop's body.