There was no immediate details about who would be tapped to the commission, which Ralston said would be appointed this week.
His remarks were greeted with a standing ovation by most lawmakers, including key Democratic leaders who have largely stayed out of the fight. But several of Ralston’s staunchest critics in both parties pointedly remained seated with arms crossed.
Among them were several of the 10 lawmakers signed a resolution last week asking Ralston to resign from his post after the investigation showed Ralston asked judges to reschedule court proceedings 57 times over a two-year period.
The group was led by state Rep. David Clark, a Buford Republican who said in an interview that he couldn't stand by and watch while victims were being denied justice.
2/25/19 - Atlanta - Rep. David Clark, R - Buford, watches House Speaker David Ralston during Morning Orders this morning where Ralston addressed accusations that he has abused his authority. Clark has called for Ralston's resignation. Several Republican lawmakers signed onto a resolution calling for Georgia House Speaker David Ralston to resign over his use of power to delay cases of defendants accused of crimes. Bob Andres / email@example.com
Credit: Bob Andres
Credit: Bob Andres
“I’m hoping people have courage and the spine to do what’s right,” he said, urging others to join him.
In his address from the center of the House floor, Ralston disparaged critics who he said were trying to score political points and suggested that Clark, who is considering a bid for an open 7th District U.S. House seat, took the stance to capture media attention.
"An examination of all the facts causes me to reject, in the strongest possible way, any accusation or insinuation that I have abused or misused my position,” said Ralston.
Still, he acknowledged, the report also forced him to take immediate action.
“I may not always like it, it may not be the easy thing to do,” he said, “but I’m reminded that perception is reality.”
Ralston has built a reputation over the last decade as a fierce negotiator who has squelched opposition on key votes from his own ranks. He spent the last week trying to keep his fractious Republican allies from a full-scale rebellion.
He recently held a closed-door GOP caucus meeting that earned mix reviews from rank-and-file lawmakers. And after days of silence, Ralston and his most ardent supporters are echoing his efforts to present himself as a victim of the media.
They are drawing a line between the embattled speaker and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who faced allegations of sexual assault during his confirmation process to the Supreme Court.
Urged by a constituent to condemn Ralston, state Rep. Andy Welch, R-McDonough, said he would not make a “rush to judgment, especially after the press and opponents wrongly vilified” Kavanaugh.
The resolution calling for him to resign his post won't reach a vote, but it for the first time put a specific measurement of the GOP frustration still bubbling around Ralston. And he was likely encouraged by the results.
With rumors flying about high-profile Republicans joining the effort, Clark was the only committee chairman to sign the resolution. Of the remaining nine, most are lower-profile legislators with little to lose and reason to oppose the speaker.
Among them is state Rep. Scot Turner, who applauded Ralston for taking the step Monday to changing the law, but criticized him for “denigrating the motives” of those who signed the resolution.
“There remains a lack of recognition that his actions have caused people harm,” said Turner, R-Holly Springs. “Continuing to say he has done nothing wrong dishonors those still seeking justice.”
- Staff writer Chris Joyner contributed to this report.