AJC file/Bill Torpy
Photo: HANDOUT
Photo: HANDOUT

The Jolt: Stockbridge sold out by its own lawyers, complaint says

The fight over the creation of a city of Eagles Landing from the existing city of Stockbridge has shifted to a new venue.

Lee Stuart, a former mayor of Stockbridge has filed complaints with the State Bar of Georgia against state Rep. Andy Welch and state Sen. Brian Strickland. Both Henry County lawmakers are partners in the firm of Smith Welch Webb & White LLC.

(An earlier version of this post said the complaints were lodged by the city of Stockbridge. City attorney Michael Williams said city officials were made aware of the complaint, they were not responsible for lodging it.)

While the lawyers’ firm was representing Stockbridge, the complaint alleges:

“[T]he attorneys filed and actively worked for the passage of legislation which would reduce the city’s land area by one-third and its annual revenues by nearly one-half. The city opposed the legislation and requested that the legislators not pursue its enactment into law.

“Contrary to their client’s wishes, the attorneys not only sought passage of the legislation but donated money to the community group which was supporting the legislation, the Eagle’s Landing Educational Research Committee.”

The press release quotes Stuart, the former mayor. In part: 

“While they were earning money from the city of Stockbridge, they were fighting with all their strength to destroy the city. Then they turned around and handed money to a group opposed to the city’s very existence.”

A referendum on the Eagles Landing issue will be on the Nov. 6 ballot.

It should be noted that, earlier this month, Welch’s name appeared on a short list of candidates for vacancies on the state Supreme Court, drawn up by the governor’s Judicial Nomination Commission.

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One more bit of Henry County news: The Stockbridge/Eagles Landing legislation was temporarily stalled last spring by the death of state Rep. Andy Welch’s father, Buddy Welch, 73, a senior member of the Smith Welch Webb & White LLC.

The Henry County Herald today reports that the death has been ruled a suicide:

According to the Aug. 8 death investigation report from the Butts County corner, Welch parked his all-terrain vehicle on the railroad tracks. Despite whistles from the oncoming train and flashing lights as warning signals, Welch remained on the tracks in front of the ATV facing the train. The accident was captured on video by the train’s on-board camera.

The newspaper reports that no explanation was offered for the elder Welch’s actions.

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The Georgia Chamber will hold its annual congressional luncheon in Macon next Tuesday. But the focus won’t be on Washington. This line was in the press release:

Georgia’s Democratic and Republican gubernatorial nominees, Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp will discuss their pro-business policies and answer pre-screened questions that address some of Georgia’s most pressing economic challenges.

We’re inquiring to see if Abrams and Kemp will be on the stage at the same time. If so, it will be a first.

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Much has already been written about the fate of city-state relations should Republican Brian Kemp win the November election for governor. At the same time, Democrat Stacey Abrams has quickly moved to shore up ties with Atlanta City Hall.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms supported Abrams’ rival, Stacey Evans, in the May primary but quickly endorsed the new nominee. 

And on Sunday the two appeared together at Martha’s Vineyard for a Clark Atlanta University “Forward Forum” where they spoke with supporters about her chances of flipping Georgia.

That wasn’t all. Buzzfeed reports that Abrams, along with U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris and other prominent Democrats, held receptions and fundraisers while in Massachusetts. 

(For Bottoms, whose office didn’t immediately comment, this was something of home territory: She owns a house on Martha’s Vineyard, which became a focus of attacks during the 2017 mayoral race.)

Abrams’ out-of-state donations have helped power her campaign, but have also provided fuel for Republicans who aim to paint her as a creature for liberal interests outside Georgia. 

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We’re told that, last Saturday, at a gathering of Republican state lawmakers at the Georgia Terrace in downtown Atlanta, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson opened his remarks by paraphrasing Mark Twain: “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

Again.

It got a laugh, because his audience had heard the same talk.

Isakson’s health problems peaked in 2015 with an announcement that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. But he strolled to re-election in 2016 and has already begun filling his campaign coffers for 2022. He has stuffed $754,000 or so into a leadership PAC.

We’re assured that the senator’s health situation remains stable and under control. As proof, Isakson’s people point to the fact that he’s one of the more active U.S. senators when it comes to getting legislation passed.

So why are these rumors resurfacing? Our guess is that a few Republicans have been theorizing about what obligations a Gov. Brian Kemp might be under, should he be elected, and what would be owed a certain U.S. secretary of agriculture who successfully pressed for a timely presidential endorsement.

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The Rome News Tribune offers another example of how Democrats are talking about guns. The newspaper reports that Evan Ross, running against state Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, is raffling off gun locks, not guns.

Ross said he was trying for a contrast with Republican candidates who have auctioned off guns to draw supporters. From the newspaper:

"But, look, I'm a gun owner, I have a concealed-carry permit, I support the Second Amendment," he added. "I just want to emphasize that Northwest Georgia gun owners are very responsible people and they want to be safe."

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Brian Tolar confirmed last night that he is leaving the Georgia Agribusiness Council after 21 years – the last nine as its president. Tolar has been considered the top agriculture lobbyist at the state Capitol, wielding significant clout in GOP circles. He was a supporter of Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s bid for governor.

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Today’s Washington Post piece on President Donald Trump’s feud with former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman has two important tidbits. One is on Trump’s use of highly detailed non-disclosure agreements to seal, supposedly in perpetuity, the lips of the people who work for him:

The NDA [that Manigault Newman] declined to sign prohibited sharing information “including but not limited to the assets, investments, revenue, expenses, taxes, financial statements, actual or prospective business ventures, contracts, alliances, affiliations, relationships, affiliated entities, bids, letters of intent, term sheets, decisions, strategies, techniques, methods, projections, forecasts, customers, clients, contacts, customer lists, contact lists, schedules, appointments, meetings, conversations, notes and other communications” of “Trump, Pence, any Trump or Pence Family member, any Trump or Pence company, or any Trump or Pence Family Member Company.”

The piece also tells us that Stefan Passantino, a former Atlanta attorney with Dentons, was in the situation room with John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, when Manigault Newman was sacked.

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