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Ga. nurses feud with Secretary of State Brian Kemp: ‘It’s personal’

The Georgia Board of Nursing and Secretary of State Brian Kemp have been publicly at odds since Kemp announced plans last month to immediately replace the board’s executive director without consulting the board members.

Now nursing board members are bluntly stating they want out from under the Secretary of State's office, following the lead of the state dental and pharmacy boards, which convinced the General Assembly to set them up as independent boards in 2013.

Kemp’s plan was to swap Jim Cleghorn, who has headed up the nursing board since 2010, with the executive director of the state cosmetology board as part of a “cross training” plan for his licensing board division. Kemp has twice backtracked on his plan, instead proposing a slower transition of the two positions.

His latest olive branch, delivered last week at the nursing board's meeting in Macon, proposed delaying the start of the transition until January and swapping the staffers until next August. Board members complained the Kemp had not consulted with them about the plan and restated their objection to moving Cleghorn from his current position.

Chuck Harper, Kemp's legislative director, stuck by Kemp's rationale that the move was needed to ensure smooth operation in the Professional Licensing Boards, but nurses attending the meeting accused Kemp of creating problems and jeopardizing the safety of patients who depend on a well-regulated nursing industry.

“I have to ask myself is this personal?” Linda Streit, dean of the Georgia Baptist College of Nursing at Mercer University, said at the meeting. “I think it’s personal for a lot people in this room.”

ExploreRead more about the feud between Kemp and the nursing board at myAJC.com.