Governor’s newsletter lands in more inboxes, catching some by surprise

Bertis Downs was surprised to open his inbox one morning a few weeks ago and see Gov. Nathan Deal’s newsletter staring back at him.

The longtime R.E.M. manager is a Democratic donor and supporter of Deal’s opponent, state Sen. Jason Carter. And he doesn’t remember signing up to get any details about the Republican incumbent.

“No idea why — unless a friend was pranking me,” he said.

It turns out, Deal’s office has dramatically expanded its official newsletter list in recent weeks. Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said the office added thousands of email addresses from people who contacted Deal through his official website or sent an email to the governor’s office.

“We are reaching out to people who have expressed views to the governor’s office. We haven’t bought any of these addresses,” Robinson said. “It’s not a political list — which is why Democrats get it. That’s evidence that it’s an official government list.”

It isn’t exactly juicy reading. Most weeks, it’s packed with rehashes of job deals and policy announcements and revenue reports.

Yet in a campaign season, such dispatches suddenly take on more import — or at least attract more scrutiny.

One recipient noted that the newsletter links to the governor’s campaign Facebook account. Robinson calls it an “inadvertent” mistake and said those links would be removed from the next dispatch.

He invites anyone who receives the email against his or her will to click the “unsubscribe” button on the bottom of the message.

“These aren’t agenda items or attacks on Jason Carter. It’s sent solely to people who have contacted the governor’s office over issues in the past,” Robinson said. “It’s very typical.”

Downs, for his part, plans to stick around.

“I guess I will stay on the list as long as they want to keep sending them,” he said. “I get plenty of emails like everyone else I guess.”