AJC file/JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM
Photo: JOHN SPINK / AJC/JOHN SPINK / AJC
Photo: JOHN SPINK / AJC/JOHN SPINK / AJC

The Jolt: Here comes the movie version of Georgia’s 2018 election

The changes that result from a nationalized race for governor can be difficult to quantify, but a greater availability of resources – some that arrive without asking – is certainly one of them.

On Monday, we spoke with Robert Greenwald, a director at work on a short film about voting in Georgia. The title makes it clear where he’s headed: “Suppressed: The True Story of Georgia’s 2018 Election.” Watch the trailer here.

Greenwald is no newcomer. He has a history. In 1984, he directed “The Burning Bed,” a made-for-TV film about domestic abuse, was a groundbreaker. “Xanadu” is a 1980 something that Greenwald probably would rather forget.

In 2000, he launched Brave New Films, a non-profit production company focused on issues with a liberal bent. Targets have included the NRA, Rupert Murdoch and Walmart.

“As a non-profit film company, there are many things we cannot do. We can’t do position papers, we can’t do white papers. But damn, we can put out personal stories,” Greenwald said. And voters in Georgia fill that bill.

As you can see from the trailer, the Randolph County effort to eliminate voting precincts ahead of a general election is one topic. “Exact match” appears to be another.

Republican Brian Kemp, who as secretary of state supervised his own election as governor, is sure to figure into the film. Greenwald hasn’t yet interviewed Stacey Abrams, but hopes to.

One thing the national media often overlooked when writing about voting in Georgia was that, while an elected secretary of state oversees balloting across the state, election officials in 159 counties are where the rubber often hits the road. We asked Greenwald if he’d be touching on that.

“Yes, 159 counties, yes, bureaucratic challenges,” the director said. “But the counties that over and over and over again were subjected to the greatest combination of voter suppression were counties where there were a majority of African-Americans. It’s hard to think that it is only an issue of bureaucracy.”

Greenwald expects to be out in mid-July. It will be made available for free, and is intended as an organizing tool – for candidate recruitment and such. He’ll try to keep the length to 35 minutes, to allow for discussion at the end of a hypothetical evening meeting.

No doubt, this an unsolicited resource that Democrats in Georgia are sure to make use of in 2020. But also consider that the film is also the kind of thing that, by harnessing last year’s Democratic outrage, could also allow Abrams to skip a race for U.S. Senate and play a longer game – i.e., a rematch with an incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp. Again, here’s the trailer:

***

Forty-nine minutes after President Donald Trump said that Herman Cain had asked not to be nominated to a vacancy on the Federal Reserve Board, the former WSB Radio host punched the button on a post that offered his reasons. Among them:

…At the same time, I was told what the ethical restrictions would be. I would have to let go of most of my business interests. I could not serve on any boards. I could not do any paid speeches. I could not advocate on behalf of capitalism, host my radio show or make appearances on Fox Business.

Without getting too specific about how big a pay cut this would be, let’s just say I’m pretty confident that if your boss told you to take a similar pay cut, you’d tell him where to go.

***

Lynne Homrich’s plunge into Georgia’s Seventh District race on Monday has Georgia’s political class chattering. 

The Republican newcomer’s opening video, laced with attacks on liberal members of Congress like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, immediately drew fire from two of the Democratic contenders for the Gwinnett and Forsyth-based district.

“It just goes to show you what Homrich and the GOP really think about communities of color,” said Nabilah Islam. 

“Voters here will simply not accept someone who thinks she can buy our seat in Congress to cozy up to Donald Trump while being condescending and dismissive toward women leaders of color,” added Carolyn Bourdeaux. 

Republicans greeted her with a mix of curiosity and derision. Our phone lit up with questions about how much money she would pump into her campaign (she will partly self-fund) and who is advising her (Corry Bliss, recently of the Congressional Leadership Fund.)

Then there was Brandon Phillips, the former Georgia chair of the Donald Trump presidential campaign, who questioned her support for the president. (Her campaign said she voted for Trump in 2016.)

“Didn't know she had a change of heart on the President,” wrote Phillips. “That's good. Now we just need to get her voting in Republican primaries.”

***

Veteran Georgia/Washington attorney Stefan Passantino is representing President Donald Trump in a complaint filed Monday seeking to block a House Oversight Committee subpoena targeting his accountant.

The lawsuit seeks documents from Trump’s longtime accounting firm Mazars USA and it’s the first time that the White House has sought to block a subpoena since Democrats recaptured the House. 

Passantino was a veteran Dentons attorney before he was hired as the deputy White House counsel shortly after Trump’s victory. He now chairs Michael Best’s government regulations and policy group. 

***

These days U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, is all Mueller, all the time. The House Judiciary Committee's top Republican has hit Democrats at every turn of the Russia saga. His latest “offensive defensive” play (as he once described his strategy) has involved blasting Democrats for subpoenaing former White House counsel Don McGahn. He also urged Democrats to take the Justice Department up on its offer to view a less redacted version of the special counsel's report, an opportunity Collins said he took Monday.

“The Attorney General has offered extraordinary accommodations to make this information available to certain members of Congress," Collins said. "The report’s 182-page look at obstruction questions includes only four redactions in total, and both volumes reinforce the principal conclusions made public last month.” Georgia Democrats are insisting they need to view the full, unredacted report.

***

Your must-reads for today:

-- Our AJC colleague Kelly Yamanouchi reports that the Federal Aviation Administration has subpoenaed records from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, as the agency prepares for an in-depth audit of the airport’s finances and investigates the potential misuse of airport revenue.

The FAA sent a subpoena to Atlanta airport general manager John Selden this month seeking “any and all unredacted legal invoices paid using revenue or funds” from Hartsfield-Jackson or any airport account from October 2012 through September 2018.

-- A state Capitol entranced with malfeasance at Atlanta’s airport was highly entertained this year, according to our AJC colleague James Salzer. He reports that lobbyists reported spending $578,000 on the session, which ended April 2. That’s up slightly from last year, but well below what it was before a 2013 law limited what lobbyists could spend on individual dinners and outlawed them providing ballgame and concert tickets. Back in the day, lobbyists spent closer to $1 million a session.

-- Over at GPB, Ross Terrell says that Georgia has lost more than 1,500 small and mid-size farms in the last five years. But since 2012, “micro-farms” of between one and nine acres have increased from 3,000 to 4,500.

***

At the Daily Caller, former Georgia congressman Bob Barr says the Trump Administration made a mistake when it killed that agreement between Cuba and Major League Baseball. A taste:

Despite MLB negotiators having successfully dotted every “i” and crossed every “t” in reaching the hard-fought agreement, however, individuals who consider any accommodation with Cuba or Cubans as a moral betrayal, apparently succeeded in convincing the Trump administration to axe the deal.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio labeled the deal “immoral” and “illegal,” notwithstanding that it had been arrived at transparently and in accord with the federal agency charged with ensuring such agreements are legal.

***

Whoops. We spoke to state Sen. John Wilkinson, who told us David Shafer erroneously listed him as a supporter of his race for Georgia GOP chair on his Facebook page. 

“I have not endorsed anyone in that contest and I don’t plan to make an endorsement in that race,” said the Toccoa Republican. “I talked to David and told him there was no endorsement, and he told me he would take it down.”

We checked and the post has now been deleted.

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