Tom Price, the former Georgia congressman and ex-secretary of health and human services, in a 2019 file photo. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com
Photo: Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com
Photo: Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com

The Jolt: FEC delays ruling on Tom Price effort to set up think tank

The Federal Election Commission has kicked the can on a request from former Georgia congressman Tom Price to use nearly nearly $1.8 million in leftover campaign money to start a nonprofit think tank centered around the topics of health care and the federal budget.

Price left as President Donald Trump’s health and human services in 2017, and the nonprofit has yet to be established. Price’s lawyer Stefan Passantino – the longtime Atlanta attorney who worked as Trump’s White House deputy counsel for ethics - described it as a “social welfare” group that would at least in part promote the ex-health secretary’s work.

Should Price’s request be approved by the Federal Election Commission, it would create a new way for former candidates to spend their leftover campaign donations. (Federal law lets former federal candidates use it on future runs for federal office and donations to charity, other candidates or political parties. Personal spending is banned.)

The question sharply divided FEC members during a “tense” hearing in Washington last week, according to The Center for Public Integrity, since such “social welfare” nonprofits operate under fewer restrictions than charities:

Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub, a Democrat, took a hard pass on the agency’s proposed response.

“If we were to approve this advisory opinion, it would extend the ‘personal use’ exemption to 501(c)(4) organizations in a way that the commission has not done before, that I’m not willing to do,” Weintraub said.

The FEC’s two Republican commissioners disagreed, siding with Price’s layer, Stefan Passantino, a former deputy White House counsel.

At Thursday’s meeting, Passantino argued that Price would in no way use the campaign money for personal uses, nor would his new nonprofit use the money to directly advocate for politicians or lobby them.

The news organization reports that the commission ultimately punted on the matter since such a decision requires unanimous support.

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Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren reports that he and his deputies turned over 11,737 foreign-born nationals to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the first 10 years of his departments participation in the 287(g) program that allows local law enforcement to enforce federal, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.

Warren pointed to the decrease in foreign nationals booked as evidence that the program has worked. He said 5,382 were logged into the Cobb County jail in 2008, and 3,180 of those were transferred to ICE. In 2018, 1,931 were booked, and 553 were turned over to ICE.

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Teresa Tomlinson, one of two announced Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate, isn’t following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s go-slow approach when it comes to impeachment. In a Friday post on her campaign website, Tomlinson first said this about “the Squad,” the quartet of congresswomen of color whom President Donald Trump has targeted:

Those women are fearless about their beliefs. They refuse to be bullied, and that is dangerous to the Republican playbook of shaming scared Democrats into milk toast, mealy-mouthed, baby-splitting positions that are equivocal and stand for nothing. American voters revile those who won’t tell the people what they think. Even if you don’t support the policies– or certainly some of the statements– of The Squad, you can’t deny that you appreciate that they unabashedly tell the world what they think….

Then she gets to the “I” word:

Oh, if only impeachment proceedings had been instituted sooner, the damage that might have been averted.

Instead, Democrats are afraid of what the Republicans will say about it– what the bullies will do to us on the way home. So, we cut through the alley to avoid the fight and controversy. We detour our duty of leadership and good government. Commencing impeachment proceedings is about employing the constitutional duty that our elected leaders were sworn to do– not about mitigating to the finish line and hoping no one notices that we wouldn’t use the tools entrusted to us to keep the American system on the rails.

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Unless you’ve spent your weekend in a coma, by now you’ve heard that President Donald Trump took to Twitter this weekend -- and hasn’t stopped yet -- to condemn U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and his “disgusting, rat and rodent infested” Baltimore-based district. 

Cummings leads the House Oversight Committee, which has been investigating Trump and many of his senior White House staffers.

Trump’s attacks on Cummings have been remarkably similar to the ones he lobbed at U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Atlanta in January 2017, shortly after entering the White House. Lewis had said he didn’t see Trump as a “legitimate” president. And still doesn’t.

The Democratic Party of Georgia highlighted the similarities in a tweet

It was racist when Trump attacked Baltimore. It was racist when he attacked Atlanta. This president's not going to change - and Republicans are never going to condemn him. We have to vote them out. 

Other Democratic reaction: U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, who previously compared Trump's rise to that of Adolf Hitler, tweeted that the president's attacks on Cummings "belies an illness of the spirit. The (White House) is infected w/ racism.”

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Jamie Dupree of WSB Radio fame notes that eight U.S. House members have decided to retire instead of running for re-election, or are seeking another office. Six those eight have been Republicans, and two of those GOP members are women. Currently, only 13 GOP members of the U.S. House are female.

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NBC News reports that more than 500,000 children would no longer be automatically eligible for free school meals under a proposed overhaul to the federal food stamp program, a figure left out of the Trump administration’s formal proposal handed to Congress earlier this month.

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Patrick Saunders over at Project Q has a lengthy profile of Kim Jackson, one of several candidates competing to succeed state Sen. Steve Henson, D-Tucker, who recently announced he will not run for another term next year.

Jackson is an ordained priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta and would become the Senate’s first openly lesbian member if elected. State Rep. Matthew Wilson, D-Brookhaven, has already endorsed her.

Read up on Jackson’s bid here. 

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In case you missed it: U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson was discharged from inpatient rehab on Friday after falling and fracturing four ribs earlier this month. The Republican’s office said the 74-year-old “is making good progress in his recovery” and will continue outpatient endurance work with his doctors.

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Angelo Fuster, who served as press secretary for Atlanta mayor Maynard Jackson, sends word that Richard Stogner died Sunday. Stogner was a pillar of bureaucratic competence whose influence in metro Atlanta spanned decades.

Most recently, Stogner had been COO for DeKalb County government, But he also was a top aide to four Atlanta mayors, and held top positions with Fulton County and the Atlanta Olympics organization.

His twin brother, James Stogner, who was deputy general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport for two decades, died in 2015.

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Ed Spivia, whose relentless efforts to sell Georgia to Hollywood helped turn the state into a movie-making mecca, died over the weekend. You can read his AJC obit here. Jeff Hullinger of 11 Alive posted a story about one of the most significant Georgia political interviews Spivia, as a radio reporter, conducted with newly-elected state Rep. Julian Bond in 1965.

From Hullinger’s post: 

At the time, John Lewis was the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. An African-American Alabama man from Tuskegee, Sammy Younge, a 21-year-old Vietnam veteran and social activist, was murdered. Lewis condemned the racial killing and then the SNCC turned hard against American military action in SE Asia.

Spivia asked Bond (only 25 at the time) about Chairman Lewis’s comments. Bond said agreed and then elaborated on his support for the burning of draft cards.

As a result of the Spivia interview, the Georgia state representatives voted not to seat Bond because he had publicly endorsed the SNCC's policy against Vietnam involvement and they disliked Bond’s stating sympathy for persons who were "unwilling to respond to a military draft".

The courts supported Bond...A small radio interview leading to one of the most famous events in Georgia history.

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The U.S. House is now on its August recess, a time that many lawmakers use to travel abroad. Two Georgia Democrats, John Lewis of Atlanta and Hank Johnson of Lithonia, are spending the first part of their break in Africa and Europe. 

The two are traveling with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a dozen members of the Congressional Black Caucus to Ghana to meet with the country’s leaders and mark the 400th anniversary of the beginning of the transatlantic slave trade, according to the California Democrat’s office. They’ll also visit U.S. Army Africa headquarters in Italy.

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This humorous video from the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call captures what we Insiders have known for years: that Gainesville Republican Doug Collins is one of Congress’ fastest talkers. Try transcribing 30 seconds of his remarks and you’ll understand our struggle

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