Paul Broun to start his own tea party group -- if an existing one won't hire him

Most of Georgia's departing members of Congress have been vague or coy when discussing their next move.

Not so Rep. Paul Broun, R-Athens. He has been blunt about saying "I need a job" and he told us Tuesday that he might just have to create one himself by launching a group called Restoring Liberty in America.

"I could possibly go on some board of director position if offered, a paid position on a corporate board. I would entertain a leadership position in some organization that is out there today, and I'm just looking for whatever position is available.

"If an organization doesn’t offer me that opportunity then I’ve begun the process of even starting my own – Restoring Liberty in America. If I could join an organization such as Americans for Prosperity or FreedomWorks or a tea party group in a leadership role, I could help them."

Broun said his supporters have been telling him to run for another office after he came up short in this year's U.S. Senate primary, but that's not at the front of his mind right now:

"If an opportunity presents itself for me to run, I certainly will consider it. I've had a number of people across the state of Georgia encourage me to run for a couple different positions, but right now I’m focusing on finding a way to make a living."

The House Ethics Committee this fall announced an investigation into Broun for misuse of taxpayer funds when hiring a taxpayer-funded communications consultant who also worked for his campaign. But the inquiry becomes moot when he leaves office.

Broun said "I hope not" when asked if the investigation would mar his legacy:

"What I did is completely ethical and normal and it’s a normal process. I hired somebody to be a part of my communications team and they helped me in an official capacity as part of our communications team. There is nothing wrong with doing so."

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The Douglas County man who was told to remove his National Rifle Association hat at a polling place because it would be construed as pro-Republican campaign material has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The Douglas County Citizen reports that Bundy Cobb is suing the county and elections officials:

Cobb, a retired insurance agent and Army veteran, is an NRA-certified firearms safety instructor and runs a business teaching gun safety. He and his wife vote “in every election,” carefully researching candidates and their positions before casting a vote.

“Bundy Cobb represents thousands of Georgians and millions of Americans who meet their civic obligations and exercise their rights with the firm conviction that the government should not infringe on the constitutional rights of citizens, period, full stop,” Shannon L. Goessling, SLF executive director and chief legal counsel representing Cobb, said in a media release Tuesday. “The lawsuit filed today seeks declaratory and injunctive relief to redress and prevent the rights of Mr. Cobb and all registered voters in Douglas County against unconstitutional restrictions on free speech and free association under the U.S. Constitution. This should never happen again in Douglas County, in Georgia, or in any jurisdiction in the U.S.”

You can read the lawsuit here.

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Senate Democrats' report on CIA interrogations made big waves Tuesday. Here's the Washington Post lead:

An exhaustive five-year Senate investigation of the CIA’s secret interrogations of terrorism suspects renders a strikingly bleak verdict on a program launched in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, describing levels of brutality, dishonesty and seemingly arbitrary violence that at times brought even agency employees to moments of anguish.

The report by the Senate Intelligence Committee delivers new allegations of cruelty in a program whose severe tactics have been abundantly documented, revealing that agency medical personnel voiced alarm that waterboarding methods had deteriorated to “a series of near drownings” and that agency employees subjected detainees to “rectal rehydration” and other painful procedures that were never approved.

Above you'll find Georgia Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss' rebuttal in the form of a 23-minute floor speech. After the Intelligence Committee's top Republican was done, we caught up with him in the hallway, and Chambliss offered this addendum:

"I think this is going to be damaging for decades to come. I’m not sure some of our partners will ever get over it. Otherwise, what’s going to happen 10 years from now? Whatever we’re doing today, is it going to be exposed 10 years from now? That’s what they’re thinking. I know because we’ve heard from some of them."

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State Democrats will pick their next leader on Jan. 31. Whether there will be a brutal fight over the leadership remains to be seen.

Chairman DuBose Porter, who took over for the ousted chairman last year, is seeking a full four-year term. He'll be challenged by R.J. Hadley, a Rockdale County tax commissioner, but it remains to be seen whether Democratic strategist Tharon Johnson or another ally of Mayor Kasim Reed jumps in.

Candidates have until Jan. 20 to sign up to run for chair or any of the other six officer posts up for grabs. The vote will be 11 days later, but the location is yet to be determined.

You can read all the dirty details of the rules here.

"We are looking forward to robust debate and a good, fair election in the new year," said the party's executive director, Rebecca DeHart, in a note to supporters. "If you should have any questions, please do not hesitate in reaching out."

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A plan to significantly expand charter schools through a statewide school district is still on the table.

Gov. Nathan Deal made clear yesterday at the legislative training conference in Athens that he still wants lawmakers to study a system, known in Louisiana as a Recovery School District, that gives the state more powers to take over struggling schools and convert them to charters.

The governor said it would give parents alternatives to perpetually failing schools that "are cheating their children and the parents of those children out of a quality education."

Said Deal:

"It's a difficult subject to take on, but one that I feel we should all have a conversation about. Just pouring money into the systems is a model we've been following a long time … It's time that we did something about it. Those failing schools have a higher percentage of dropouts than any others."

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Inmates at Arrendale State Prison will soon be able to take classes through a charter school program. And Gov. Nathan Deal expects the program to expand across the state next year.

The governor told lawmakers that an inmate who was one credit shy of receiving her high school diploma will become the first state Department of Corrections prisoner to graduate thanks to a pilot program with the Mountain Education Center Charter School.

It's pioneered by Buster Evans, a former Forsyth County superintendent who was hired as a corrections deputy this year.

She's the "tip of the spear," Deal said. Case in point: The program will expand in August to partner with Foothills Education Charter School.

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