Moments after House Speaker David Ralston wrapped up a celebratory press conference touting the passage of a Republican-backed voting measure, his archrival stood in the same spot to proclaim the rebellion against him is not over.
State Rep. David Clark, the author of a resolution demanding Ralston’s resignation, said Tuesday he was not abandoning his drive to sign up more Republicans infuriated with the speaker. And he said he’s also open to recruiting Democrats, who have pointedly stayed out of the fray.
The Buford Republican announced the resolution last week, days after an Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Channel 2 Action News investigation revealed that Ralston frequently used his legislative leave privilege to attain lengthy delays of criminal cases he was handling in his private practice.
In an emotional and sometimes fiery address, Ralston denied any wrongdoing but said he would appoint a commission that would tighten legislative leave rules that date to a 1905 law. And he announced he would take no more criminal cases until four major pending ones were complete.
While several of the 10 Republicans who signed the resolution dismissed Ralston’s concessions as weak, Clark took the day to reassess the situation. And when he was ready to speak on Tuesday afternoon, he came out swinging.
Ralston’s decision to seek changes to the law, he said, “shouldn’t be a way out” to avoid facing more severe consequences for what he called an abuse of power. And he said he felt let down by a wider circle of Republican colleagues, who he said backed out of plans to sign the resolution.
“I thought I had a lot of support but when the time came, I didn’t,” said Clark, adding: “We hit a wall. But at least the victims know they have someone standing up for them.”
He also slammed Ralston for “throwing him under the bus” by accusing him of taking the stance to earn attention for a potential 7th District run for Congress.
“I can’t stay silent. It’s who I am. It’s very uncomfortable,” he said. “But I believe the true victims are the ones who were abused through this law for monetary gains. I think he’s wrong. He’s not a victim at all.”
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