Georgia nominee’s firm demands GOP stop discrimination suit attacks

Sarah Riggs Amico, the Democratic candidate to become Georgia’s lieutenant governor, speaks during the Georgia Democratic Convention in Atlanta in August. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
Sarah Riggs Amico, the Democratic candidate to become Georgia’s lieutenant governor, speaks during the Georgia Democratic Convention in Atlanta in August. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

Attorneys for the company headed by the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor sent letters to the state’s top two Republican campaigns demanding that they stop “making false statements” about a discrimination lawsuit filed against the business.

Jack Cooper, a truck-hauling company led by Sarah Riggs Amico, sent the letters Monday requesting Amico’s opponent, former state Rep. Geoff Duncan, his spokesman Dan McLagan and Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the Republican nominee for governor, retract statements made in a press release last week.

The request comes days after Kemp called for Amico to withdraw her candidacy, describing the allegations in the lawsuit filed in federal court in April as "unacceptable and disqualifying."

Amico has been the executive chairwoman of her family’s company since 2014.

“The extent of Messrs. Kemp and Duncan’s false statements are shocking and will likely damage the reputation of Jack Cooper and its employees, and expose them to public hatred, contempt, or ridicule,” attorney David P. Thatcher wrote in the letter.

McLagan scoffed at the request.

“She had her dad call his lawyer on us?” McLagan said. “Well, Big Mike should read the sexual harassment allegations found in paragraphs 26, 116, 118 and 139 of the lawsuit.”

Jack Cooper is being sued by 10 current and former staffers at an Indiana office of the trucking company. They allege a supervisor discriminated against black employees and that another supervisor sexually harassed workers.

Mike Riggs, the CEO of Jack Cooper and Amico's father, has called the lawsuit "frivolous."

A press release from Kemp’s campaign last week called it a “sexual assault lawsuit.” Employees have alleged sexual harassment, according to court records.

A statement from Jack Cooper said the company, Amico and the supervisor accused of discrimination were victimized by Kemp’s and Duncan’s claims.

“Mr. Duncan’s campaign has avoided issues that are important to Georgia voters and, instead, sullied the good name of Jack Cooper and a hard-working supervisor miles away in Indiana, simply to try to gain a political advantage,” company officials said in a press release.

Kemp campaign spokesman Cody Hall called on Stacey Abrams, the Democratic nominee for governor, to also ask Amico to withdraw from the race. He accused Abrams of playing politics, saying sexual harassment and racial discrimination shouldn’t be ignored.

“That’s why Brian Kemp has a plan to ensure that state employees are treated with respect and allegations of misconduct are addressed immediately,” he said.

Amico isn't the first candidate to call for an end to attacks. Last month, Kemp's campaign wrote a letter to TV stations demanding they stop airing an ad that criticized his handling of sexual assault complaints, calling it a "demonstrably false" attack on the Republican nominee.

The ad, paid for by the Democratic Party of Georgia, focuses on an accusation that Kemp's office mishandled at least four complaints from women who claim they were groped by therapists at Massage Envy clinics.

The Board of Massage Therapy, which is under the secretary of state's purview, has not sanctioned or revoked the licenses of any of the accused therapists. An Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation revealed the former owner of those clinics is a donor to Kemp's campaign.

Kemp’s campaign has said it has done nothing wrong in taking the campaign cash and that only a five-member panel appointed by the governor has the power to suspend or revoke licenses or launch an investigation.

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