Capitol Recap: Trump still draws big cash from Georgia, just not as much

Georgia is bucking a national trend, contributing more money to former President Donald Trump than President Joe Biden. Trump has collected more than $2.4 million from Georgia donors, compared with $1.1 million for Biden, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis of financial disclosures. (Hyosub Shin /



Georgia is bucking a national trend, contributing more money to former President Donald Trump than President Joe Biden. Trump has collected more than $2.4 million from Georgia donors, compared with $1.1 million for Biden, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis of financial disclosures. (Hyosub Shin /

Biden holds significant fundraising lead nationally, but not in the Peach State

Former President Donald Trump trails President Joe Biden in fundraising nationally but holds the edge in Georgia.

Biden and Democrats took in more than $90 million in March and had $192 million in the bank. Trump reported raising more than $65.6 million that month, ending with $93.1 million.

In Georgia, though, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis of financial disclosures this election cycle shows Trump has collected more than $2.4 million, compared with $1.1 million for Biden. (These disclosures include donors who give at least $200 and do not represent fundraising from affiliated groups, super PACs and joint fundraising committees.)

Georgia, however, has not been as rich a source of cash for Trump as it was in 2020.

The AJC analysis showed that Trump’s 2020 campaign raised more than $5.2 million in Georgia by the beginning of March that year, more than twice what he’s collected so far this go-round.

Fewer Georgians are giving, too. He had more than 10,800 donors from the state by March 2020, but only about 5,000 have written checks to the former president’s campaign over the same period this election cycle.

The review found that only about 2,000 of his Georgia donors in 2020 have given to his 2024 campaign.

Those numbers don’t include his take from his fundraiser Wednesday in Atlanta.

Cole Muzio, president of the conservative Frontline Policy Council based in Norcross, called former President Donald Trump's stance giving states control over abortion laws and avoiding a national ban an "unequivocal disappointment." (Steve Schaefer /

Credit: Steve Schaefer/AJC

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Credit: Steve Schaefer/AJC

Trump supporters express disappointment over abortion stance

Former President Donald Trump caught flak from supporters when he announced this past week that he thinks abortion rights should be left to the states and avoided taking a stance on a national ban.

Cole Muzio, the head of the Norcross-based Frontline Policy Council, called Trump’s policy an “unequivocal disappointment” for abortion opponents.

And he promised the issue isn’t going away.

“I’d encourage President Trump to remember the formula that got him elected the first time — choosing a pro-life VP and providing clarity about his judicial opinions,” Muzio said.

Democratic state Rep. Michelle Au of Johns Creek agreed with Muzio that the issue won’t go away.

She said Trump’s “ever-changing rhetoric” on abortion might as well be a concession that “stringent abortion care bans are a losing issue for Republican candidates up and down the ticket.”

State’s opioid trust set to start taking applications for grants

Groups can start applying Monday for grants from the Georgia Opioid Crisis Abatement Trust to fund addiction prevention, treatment and recovery services.

The new state trust will receive about $479 million over 18 years as part of a settlement with companies that made or distributed prescription painkillers linked to the deadly opioid epidemic.

Among other things, applicants can go to the trust’s website at to request money to buy naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal medication; offer medication-assisted addiction treatment; and build new treatment facilities. Grants are expected to be announced in the fall.

In all, Georgia is set to receive $638 million as part of a $26 billion multistate settlement from 2021 with four companies: AmerisourceBergen, now called Cencora; Cardinal Health; McKesson; and Janssen, now known as Johnson & Johnson Innovative Medicine. Of Georgia’s settlement, $159 million is going directly to local governments.

The money is being distributed based on the quantities of opioids shipped to a state, its number of opioid-related deaths and how many of its residents are suffering from opioid addiction.

In Georgia, opioid-involved overdose deaths have more than doubled, rising from 554 in 2012 to 1,332 in 2020, according to the state’s Public Health Department.

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Rome, sent a five-page letter to fellow Republicans in the House saying she “will not tolerate our elected Republican Speaker Mike Johnson serving the Democrats and the Biden administration and helping them achieve their policies that are destroying our country.” Greene has filed a motion to oust Johnson as speaker, although few of her fellow Republicans in the House have shown an interest in pursuing it. (Arvin Temkar /

Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

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Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

Greene continues push against House speaker

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene used the return of lawmakers to Capitol Hill this past week to keep the pressure on U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson.

In a five-page letter to fellow Republicans in the House, Greene wrote: “I will not tolerate our elected Republican Speaker Mike Johnson serving the Democrats and the Biden administration and helping them achieve their policies that are destroying our country.”

Greene denounced Johnson for compromising with Democrats on major legislation, including a series of funding bills that kept the federal government open. She also voiced her opposition to aid for Ukraine in its war with Russia.

The Rome Republican filed a motion to remove Johnson as speaker before Easter, although she has not said whether she will push for a House vote anytime soon.

Only a handful of Republicans are likely to support such a move, and several GOP lawmakers spoke out against any effort to remove Johnson.

“All it would do is in essence derail the conservatives, the Republicans,” said U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla.

U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., released a report this past week saying that systemic failures and mismanagement within Georgia's Division of Family and Children Services contributed to the deaths of children. The state Department of Human Services, which oversees DFCS, took issue with the report, saying it “relies on various reviews and audits conducted by DFCS itself” that “do not support the report’s conclusions.” (Natrice Miller/

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

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Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

Ossoff panel issues report describing systemic failures in child welfare agency

Systemic failures and mismanagement within the Division of Family and Children Services contributed to the deaths of children, according to a report U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff released this past week in his role as head of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee.

The state Department of Human Services, which oversees DFCS, took issue with many of the report’s findings and said it omitted improvements at the agency, such as those addressing the issue of housing children in hotels and strengthening safeguards for children in its care.

The 64-page report by Ossoff’s Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law describes how DFCS has identified “significant shortcomings,” such as staffing shortages and insufficient training, that contribute to death and serious injuries among children it is responsible for.

Ossoff’s panel reviewed thousands of pages of nonpublic DHS documents and reports from the state’s child welfare watchdog, the Office of the Child Advocate. It also conducted four public hearings and interviewed more than 100 witnesses, including DHS Commissioner Candice Broce and other top officials.

The DHS said in response that Ossoff’s report falsely claims that DFCS failed to keep children safe from physical and sexual abuse, and that those failures contributed to the deaths of children.

“The report relies on various reviews and audits conducted by DFCS itself,” the DHS said. “Those reviews, however, do not support the report’s conclusions.”

The subcommittee’s investigation was prompted by a monthslong review The Atlanta Journal-Constitution conducted in 2022 that obtained hundreds of pages of public documents and spoke with experts who described a child welfare system in turmoil. Caseworkers at DFCS were leaving their jobs in droves, fueled by low pay, frustration with leadership, and exhaustion from increased workloads, according to state human resources reports.

Capitol Hill remake to begin with demolition of buildings

Work will begin this summer on a $400 million revitalization of the Capitol Hill complex.

It will start with the demolition of two small office buildings, to be replaced by an eight-story building.

Plans for the new office building show more and larger committee rooms accessible to people with disabilities and improvements to technology and dedicated press areas.

The design also calls for a bridge across Martin Luther King Drive connecting the third floor of the new building and the Capitol, making it easier for legislators and the public to move between them.

As for the 135-year-old Capitol, most of the mechanical systems are from the 1950s, said Gerald Pilgrim, the deputy executive director of the Georgia Building Authority. Planned upgrades under the Gold Dome include two additional fire stairways and exits, more bathrooms and a more public-friendly visitor entrance. The work will also make all public areas accessible for people with disabilities.

Southwest Georgia Regional Medical Center in Cuthbert closed its doors in October 2020. (Andy Miller/Ga. Health News)

Credit: Andy Miller/Georgia Health News

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Credit: Andy Miller/Georgia Health News

Study ranks Georgia high in number of vulnerable rural hospitals

Georgia ties Mississippi for sixth among states for most rural hospitals at risk of closing at 18, according to a report by the health care advisory firm Chartis.

Texas heads the list, with 45 vulnerable hospitals, followed by Kansas (38), Nebraska (29), Oklahoma (22) and North Carolina (19).

Chartis reports that half of the country’s rural hospitals are running at a loss. In an effort to avoid closing, some hospitals have cut down on services. In Georgia, 23 rural hospitals have stopped offering chemotherapy over the past decade, said Michael Topchik, the study’s author.

The report identified Medicaid as an indicator that has a significant impact on rural hospitals’ vulnerability.

Supporters say expansion of the federal-state program that provides health coverage to the poor and disabled improves rural hospitals’ financial performance. Under Medicaid, hospitals are reimbursed for the care they’re obligated to give to people who lack insurance and are less able to pay their bills.

Georgia is one of 10 states that have not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Instead, Gov. Brian Kemp last year began a limited Medicaid expansion that aims to offer coverage to more poor adults who meet requirements for work or other activities.

But enrollment has been meager, with about 3,500 Georgians signing up for the program out of 90,000 that Kemp aides hope to cover by time it ramps up fully. Full expansion under the ACA could make at least 359,000 uninsured people in Georgia newly eligible for Medicaid, according to data from KFF, a nonprofit health research and journalism organization.

Political expedience

  • House runoff: Sean Knox and Carmen Rice will face each other in an all-Republican May 7 runoff to fill the state House seat that Richard Smith held before his death in January. Knox is the president of a pest control company, and Rice is the chairwoman of the Muscogee County Republican Party. The two finished at the top in a four-candidate special election, but neither won a majority of the votes necessary to avoid a runoff. The winner of the runoff will represent the Columbus-area district for the rest of the year but will have to run for election again in November for a full two-year term.
  • Not so forgiving: U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Athens, criticized President Joe Biden’s latest round of federal student loan forgiveness, calling it a “scam” that “is nothing more than a desperate attempt to buy votes with Americans’ hard-earned money.” The White House fired back, noting that Clyde had $156,697 in Paycheck Protection Program loans forgiven following the COVID-19 pandemic. Clyde received the PPP loans through his gun stores. Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr has signed onto a lawsuit with six other Republican-led states in an attempt to stop Biden’s plan, which aims to wipe out up to $20,000 in debt for as many as 20 million Americans by forgiving accrued interest on high-interest student loans.
  • A vote for improvement: Georgia ranks 11th on a scale produced by the Election Data & Science Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that measures election administration. That’s an improvement from No. 21 following the 2020 election. Georgia scored well on the biennial Elections Performance Index for turnout for the midterm elections, its voter registration rate and a low rejection rate for absentee ballots. The state was dinged in categories based on survey responses rather than data. For example, a sample of voters who responded to an MIT survey reported a 9.7-minute wait time to cast ballots in the 2022 general election. The secretary of state’s office has said data showed average wait times of about two minutes.