PG A.M.: Lawyer wants Lt. Gov. Jones charged for serving as Trump elector

Your daily jolt of news and analysis from the AJC politics team
An attorney has filed a new legal complaint seeking to force a state agency to appoint a prosecutor to pursue election interference charges against Lt. Gov. Burt Jones (pictured). (Natrice Miller / Natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

An attorney has filed a new legal complaint seeking to force a state agency to appoint a prosecutor to pursue election interference charges against Lt. Gov. Burt Jones (pictured). (Natrice Miller / Natrice.miller@ajc.com)

An attorney who sought to have Lt. Gov. Burt Jones disqualified from office has filed a new legal complaint seeking to force a state agency to appoint a prosecutor to pursue election interference charges against the Republican.

The litigation, from attorney Wayne Kendall on behalf of four plaintiffs, asks a Clayton County Superior Court judge to order the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia to take action because the council has “completely failed” to perform its duties.

The 14-page filing comes weeks after another judge summarily rejected Kendall’s bid to oust Jones for aiding former President Donald Trump’s efforts to subvert President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.

It represents the latest attempt in Georgia to seek to bar Trump and his allies from the 2024 ballot or use other legal efforts to punish them. The nonpartisan council’s director, Pete Skandalakis, declined to comment on pending litigation.

Pete Skandalakis is director of the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia.  (Natrice Miller / natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

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Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

In July 2022, Fulton prosecutors sent “target” letters to Jones and others who met secretly following the 2020 election to sign a certificate falsely claiming Trump had won the state. The letters warned these Trump electors they could be criminally charged. But a judge blocked the district attorney’s office from pursuing charges because DA Fani Willis held a fundraiser for Jones’ Democratic rival.

That put the council in charge of deciding whether to take action against Jones. Some 18 months later, the agency has yet to announce whether it will pursue charges or drop the case.

Jones aide Chris Hartline said the lieutenant governor has “never been concerned about these partisan efforts to weaponize the legal system to subvert the will of the voters of Georgia.”

In an interview last week, Jones said he was looking to get the specter of a prosecution behind him.

“I’m willing and ready to talk to them at any point in time,” said Jones, who has spent more than $110,000 in campaign cash on legal fees. He added that he “didn’t do anything wrong.

“I know the truth will prevail. … So I know all that will get in the rearview mirror at some point,” he said

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 Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee will hear arguments Thursday on whether District Attorney Fani Willis should remain the lead prosecutor in the election interference case against Mike Roman. (Jason Getz / jason.getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz/AJC

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Credit: Jason Getz/AJC

BIG COURT DATE. A Fulton County judge hears arguments Thursday on whether District Attorney Fani Willis should remain the lead prosecutor in the election interference case against Mike Roman. Along with former President Donald Trump and others, Roman stands accused of attempting to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results.

The evidentiary hearing before Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee stems from a motion alleging improper conduct by Willis. The legal filing claims Willis improperly benefited financially from the case, citing her romantic relationship with one of the case’s special prosecutors, Nathan Wade, and seeks to disqualify her from the case..

The AJC’s Tamar Hallerman unpacks what to expect at the hearing and what’s at stake.

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Scott Grubman penned  a letter, signed by dozens of other attorneys, urging Georgia State University to rescind an award to another local lawyer who has a history of posting critical statements about Israel. (Bob Andres / AJC)

Credit: Bob Andres/AJC

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Credit: Bob Andres/AJC

LEGAL CLASH. Dozens of Georgia attorneys signed a letter over the weekend urging Georgia State University to rescind an award to another local lawyer who has a history of posting critical statements about Israel.

The letter penned by Scott Grubman urges the university’s president to take back Ali Jamal Awad’s “40 under 40″ award because of “countless posts accusing the Jewish people of genocide and other despicable crimes against innocent people, including children.”

“To be clear, as an attorney, I believe Mr. Awad has the legal right to spew whatever racist garbage he chooses to on his own social media accounts,” wrote Grubman, who is an adjunct law professor at the school. “But he has no right to be honored by my alma mater.”

Awad accused his critics of “hating on his success” and maintained his criticism of Israel. The nation state’s military forces invaded Gaza after Hamas militants killed roughly 1,200 Israelis in a surprise Oct. 7 attack.

“I’ve never said anything negative about Jewish people because I love them,” he wrote in a social media post. “I only criticize and despise the government of Israel, which is a genocidal terrorist regime.”

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The Georgia State Capitol. (Casey Sykes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Casey Sykes

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Credit: Casey Sykes

UNDER THE GOLD DOME, Legislative Day 19:

  • 8 a.m.: Committee meetings begin.
  • 10 a.m.: The House convenes.
  • 10 a.m.: The Senate gavels in.

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, seated center, is joined by fellow governors, including Brian Kemp of Georgia (gray cap) during a news conference about border concerns on Feb. 4, 2024, in Eagle Pass, Texas. (Eric Gay / AP)

Credit: Eric Gay/AP

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Credit: Eric Gay/AP

WORTH WATCHING. Keep an eye on the state Senate this morning, where members will debate Senate Resolution 543, a measure condemning President Joe Biden over his efforts to control immigration across the U.S.-Mexico border.

The legislation does not mention congressional Republicans, who torpedoed a bipartisan bill earlier this month that would have beefed up border security.

The resolution would put the state Senate on record supporting construction of a wall along the border as well as “any action taken by Gov. Brian Kemp to allocate resources and assistance to the protection of the southern border as well as the actions of Gov. Greg Abbott to safeguard the people of Texas.”

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Gov. Brian Kemp weighed in on the presidential election at a conservative gathering in Virginia last weekend. (Arvin Temkar / arvin.temkar@ajc.com)

Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

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Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

KEMP CAUTIONS. Gov. Brian Kemp warned Republicans at a conservative confab in Virginia over the weekend that voters will end up the losers if the November election devolves into “a debate about who can outlast the other 80-year-old politician.”

Without mentioning former President Donald Trump, the second-term governor repeated his call for Republicans to focus on “results and not personalities” — and avoid obsessing over lies about widespread election fraud.

He used the speech at Washington & Lee University’s Mock Convention to argue that conservative governors can be a better template for how Republicans can win tough elections than national GOP figures.

“It should be about the future of our country,” he said of the 2024 election, “not a race to the bottom.”

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Gov. Brian Kemp spoke about both Republican presidential primary candidates on ABC's "This Week." They are former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, left, and former President Donald Trump. (AP)

Credit: AP

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Credit: AP

KEMP ON ABC. Gov. Brian Kemp’s alarms for the GOP caught the attention of national media, including ABC’s “This Week,” which featured him as a guest on Sunday.

While the governor never attacked former President Donald Trump directly, he said “no one is above the law” when asked about Trump’s contention that American presidents have “absolute immunity” from prosecution.

Kemp also had something to say when asked about Trump’s mockery of the husband of his GOP primary rival, Nikki Haley. Michael Haley is deployed in Africa with the Army National Guard.

“We appreciate our heroes in Georgia,” Kemp said. “I think it’s unfortunate for anybody to be criticizing our men and women serving overseas, regardless of whether they’re overseas fighting a battle or on the border doing the same.”

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FLOWERS V. SCOTT. Democrat Marcus Flowers, who raised more than $16 million in a failed bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene in 2022, has his sights set on a different congressional seat.

Flowers filed paperwork on Friday to mount a primary challenge against long-serving U.S. Rep. David Scott in his south and west metro Atlanta district.

In a statement to the AJC, Flowers avoided mentioning Scott, D-Atlanta, but said his campaign would center on “defending our democracy against those that seek to do it harm.”

Democrat Marcus Flowers has filed paperwork to mount a primary challenge against  long-serving U.S. Rep. David Scott in his south and west metro Atlanta district. (Steve Schaefer / steve.schaefer@ajc.com)

Credit: Steve Schaefer/AJC

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Credit: Steve Schaefer/AJC

“I’ve spent my entire life fighting for this country both in the military and in government, and I believe that I’m uniquely capable of bringing the good fight to D.C.,” Flowers said.

Scott, 78, has faced persistent questions about his health, including from fellow Democrats who have privately urged him to retire. He has dismissed the criticism and vowed he is prepared to run for a 12th term in office.

Scott responded to Flowers’ announcement by repeating his plans to run for another term, saying he is “focused on the important work that the people of Georgia’s 13th Congressional district elected me to do for the last 22 years,” according to a statement. “I am running on my accomplishments.”

Georgia’s congressional primaries are on May 21.

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U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., supported a bill that would provide aid to foreign allies such as Israel and Ukraine. (Miguel Martinez / miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Credit: Miguel Martinez

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Credit: Miguel Martinez

FOREIGN AID ADVANCES. On Friday and again on Sunday, the U.S. Senate took procedural steps to advance a bill providing $95 billion in funding for foreign allies such as Israel and Ukraine.

As they have all along, Georgia U.S. Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, both Democrats, supported the measure.

CNN reported that an additional Republican senator backed the legislation on Sunday, indicating that GOP support is growing as lawmakers come to grips with the reality that it’s either this bill or likely nothing when it comes to helping Ukraine fend off an invasion from Russia.

The Senate was scheduled to begin a two-week recess this week, but Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said he won’t send members home until work is complete on the foreign aid bill.

A final floor vote could happen midweek.

If the bill passes, it would be sent to the House where Speaker Mike Johnson has not said if he will allow the bill to be brought to the floor for a vote.

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Your four AJC hosts of the “Politically Georgia” show spent the Friday episode breaking down another busy week in Georgia politics. (Natrice Miller / Natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

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Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

LISTEN UP. Your four hosts of “Politically Georgia” spent the Friday episode breaking down another busy week in Georgia politics.

On today’s show, the AJC’s Ernie Suggs joins to discuss the newspaper’s Black History Month series. And state Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, will be on to talk about legislation moving through the state House as Crossover Day approaches.

Listen at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. And listen to Monday’s show live at 10 a.m. on WABE 90.1 FM, at AJC.com and at WABE.org.

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President Joe Biden will meet today with King Abdullah II of Jordan (pictured). (Lisa Leutner / AP)

Credit: Lisa Leutner/AP

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Credit: Lisa Leutner/AP

TODAY IN WASHINGTON:

  • President Joe Biden delivers remarks to attendees at the National Association of Counties Legislative Conference. Then he will meet at the White House with King Abdullah II of Jordan.
  • The Senate continues work on the foreign aid package for Israel and Ukraine.
  • The House is out until Tuesday.

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Former state Sen. Ed Tarver died last week. He is pictured with his spouse, Dr. Carol Dale Tarver.

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IN MEMORIAM. Former state Sen. Ed Tarver, an Augusta Democrat who also served as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, died on Friday.

Tarver ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2020, one of nearly two dozen candidates in a special election to fill the final two years of Sen. Johnny Isakson’s term. Raphael Warnock ultimately won that contest.

Tarver, 64, also served in the Army.

A message posted online by his law partner said that Tarver died from complications after surgery. He is survived by his wife, Carol, and children, WJBF-TV reports.

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Blue Jenkins, a Great Pyrenees, spends his days hard at work, including guarding the baby goats on the Jenkins’ farm. (Courtesy photo)

Credit: Courtesy photo

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Credit: Courtesy photo

DOG OF THE DAY. It’s time to meet Blue Jenkins, a beauty of a beast who calls AJC subscribers David and Catherine Jenkins of Greenville, Georgia his people.

A Great Pyrenees, Blue spends his days as one of several livestock guardian dogs on the family farm in Meriwether County. Here he is hard at work guarding the Jenkins’ new baby goats and winning us over in the process. Blue, you’re our Dog of the Day!

Send us your dogs of any political persuasion and location, and cats on a cat-by-cat basis, to patricia.murphy@ajc.com, or DM us at @MurphyAJC.

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AS ALWAYS, Politically Georgia readers are some of our favorite tipsters. Send your best scoop, gossip and insider info to greg.bluestein@ajc.com, tia.mitchell@ajc.com, patricia.murphy@ajc.com, and adam.vanbrimmer@ajc.com.