Newly elected Georgia House member facing drug charges withdraws from office

Credit: Bob Andres

Credit: Bob Andres

A newly elected Republican state lawmaker has withdrawn from office after he was charged with swiping prescription narcotics from a retirement complex where he works.

Danny Rampey’s decision not to take office triggers a Jan. 31 special election to fill his Winder-based House seat in northeast Georgia. Gov. Brian Kemp signed an order Saturday setting up the new vote in the GOP-leaning district.

He had been under pressure by party leaders to step down rather than face a possible suspension proceeding if he tried to take office when lawmakers convene next week.

“His withdrawal will ensure his constituents have a voice in this session of the General Assembly after the special election is held,” said House Speaker Jan Jones and incoming House Speaker Jon Burns in a joint statement.

An attorney representing Rampey couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

Rampey, a former chair of the Barrow County Chamber of Commerce, had been set to take office in January after steamrolling a Republican opponent in the GOP primary and running unopposed in the November election. He was to succeed retiring state Rep. Terry England.

But authorities said a weeks-long investigation about “suspicious activity involving missing medications” at the Magnolia Estates assisted living center in Winder led them to Rampey.

He was charged on Dec. 16 with burglary, exploiting an elderly person, obtaining a controlled substance by theft and possessing a controlled substance.

“We had a couple of instances of him on video taking the items and today we had one as well,” Barrow County Sheriff Jud Smith told the Athens Banner-Herald. “We actually filmed him going into the residence and taking the items.”

Rampey was released from custody shortly after his arrest on an $111,000 bond set by a magistrate judge.