The Jolt: Buckhead cityhood chief pushes ‘sick’ phony MARTA conspiracy

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
012422 Buckhead: Bill White, leader of the Buckhead cityhood movement, addresses supporters during a fundraiser on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022, in Buckhead. The Buckhead cityhood organization is starting a political action committee with $1 million in the bank, Buckhead City Committee chief executive Bill White told several hundred donors at the Bistro Niko restaurant.   “Curtis Compton /”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

012422 Buckhead: Bill White, leader of the Buckhead cityhood movement, addresses supporters during a fundraiser on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022, in Buckhead. The Buckhead cityhood organization is starting a political action committee with $1 million in the bank, Buckhead City Committee chief executive Bill White told several hundred donors at the Bistro Niko restaurant. “Curtis Compton /”`

Although several Cobb County cityhood bills are zipping through the General Assembly this session, a parallel effort to break the Buckhead neighborhood away from the City of Atlanta is stuck somewhere between first gear and park.

One factor is the sheer complexity of trying to strip one piece out of an existing city to create another, as the Buckhead City proponents are trying to do.

But another factor is Bill White, the CEO of the Buckhead City Committee.

Although White is well connected with several lawmakers and was even appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp to the state Board of Corrections, White’s use of social media to amplify race-based or dangerous conspiracies has not escaped the notice of Republican power brokers.

The first was a retweeted-then-deleted post from VDARE, a white nationalist blog.

The latest example came last night when White went to Instagram in an attempt to raise doubts about the recent death of Jeffrey Parker, who was the CEO of MARTA until he died by suicide in January.

Parker was widely respected in the state Capitol and had close relationships with many lawmakers. At the time of his death, Kemp released a statement saying Parker had “an incredible mind for transportation and logistics and a heart for people.”

Shaken members of the state House went to the floor to praise Parker’s work and urge others struggling with mental health challenges to seek help.

A highly placed Republican in the state Capitol called White’s post about Parker’s death “subterranean.” Atlanta City Councilman Amir Farokhi said White’s comments were “sick and should be roundly shouted down.”

White did not respond to a request for comment.


UNDER THE GOLD DOME: Wednesday, Feb. 9:

  • 8:30 a.m.: House and Senate committees meet throughout the day;
  • The House and Senate stand adjourned until Thursday for a committee work day.


Among the hearings we’re keeping an eye on Wednesday:

  • A subcommittee of the House Education Committee takes up HB 1084, a bill from GOP state Rep. Will Wade related to curricula “which teach certain concepts,” which may or may not include Critical Race Theory, depending on whom you ask. Wade is a former school board member from Dawsonville.
  • The Senate Health and Human Services Committee hears SB 456, a bill to prevent abortion pills from being sent through the mail. The bill would also require a woman to have an in-patient doctor’s visit and have an ultrasound to be eligible for the pill. Our colleague Maya Prabhu reports a vote is expected.
  • The Senate Education and Youth Committee will hear SB 435, a bill to ban transgender students from playing sports according to their gender identity.


A follow up: We told you Tuesday about state Rep. Dominic LaRiccia and his outstretched middle finger in this year’s Georgia House class photo.

On Tuesday morning, LaRiccia went to the floor of the House to make a formal apology to his colleagues for what he said was not intended to mean in any harm.

“I love this House and I love you. I’m sorry for what I did,” he said.


Speaking of apologies, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams appeared on CNN last night to apologize for not wearing a mask last recently when she took a photograph at a DeKalb County school, while all of the children behind her wore masks.

“Protocols matter and protecting our kids is the most important thing,” she said. “Anything that can be perceived as undermining that is a mistake and I apologize.”


For the latest on all things Georgia politics from your Jolt team, be sure to listen to the Politically Georgia podcast every Wednesday and Friday.

This morning’s pod tackles the politics of masks, COVID and schools, Vernon Jones’ exit from the governor’s race, and a look at the Warnock-Walker-Etc. Senate race ads.

Subscribe on your favorite podcast platform.



Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker attended a fundraiser this week at Newton Racquetball in Pennsylvania, owned by a Donald Trump supporter who donated $50,000 to a pro-Walker super PAC.

The owner, Jim Worthington, has drawn criticism for organizing three buses to ferry Trump backers to the “stop the steal” rally outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 – the day of the insurrection.

Walker’s campaign didn’t comment.


When Republican gubernatorial hopeful David Perdue filed his campaign disclosure Monday, our in-house math man James Salzer noticed four donations from “anonymous.”

On Tuesday, Gov. Brian Kemp’s campaign hit Perdue’s camp with a state ethics complaint, alleging Perdue broke the law by not disclosing who gave the $22,000 in unspecified contributions. Under state law, candidates aren’t allowed to take anonymous contributions.

“The Georgia Supreme Court held nearly 50 years ago that a person does not have a constitutional right to remain anonymous in the person’s support of a political candidate,” Kemp’s campaign lawyer, Vincent Russo, wrote in the complaint.

Perdue’s campaign fired back, saying the ethics commission’s filing site had a glitch and the donors were listed on the forms they filed.

David Emadi, the commission’s executive secretary, told Salzer, “Moving forward, we will determine whether the campaign accepted anonymous contributions or whether there was a data entry error that occurred which needs to be amended.”

The Kemp campaign filed a separate ethics complaint against Perdue last month alleging the former senator got an illegal boost from a new fundraising committee.

Under state law, political action committees and so-called “independent committees” can raise and spend unlimited contributions, but they’re not allowed to directly coordinate their efforts with a candidate’s campaign.

Kemp officials argued that the website for the “Georgia Values Fund” asks donors to provide cellphone numbers to get Perdue campaign alerts, updates and news, and it instructs donors to mail contributions to Perdue’s campaign, giving them a mailing address for where to send checks.

It’s fairly common for campaigns in big races to file ethics complaints against their opponents in an election year. Whether a legal violation occurred often isn’t sorted out until after the election.


During redistricting in the fall, the General Assembly reshaped district boundaries in an effort to flip a seat in Atlanta’s northern suburbs currently held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath. (Win McNamee/Getty Images/TNS)

Credit: TNS

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Credit: TNS

We now know how much help U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath will get from the newly formed Protect Our Future super PAC in her primary race against Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux. The PAC will spend a cool $2 million supporting McBath as a part of $10 million it plans to spend in Democratic primaries around the country this year.

The announcement drew the first public attack on McBath from Bourdeaux.

“I call on Lucy to immediately disavow this funding,” Bourdeaux said. “It is critical that this race reflect the needs of our diverse community and put good policy first. The people of Georgia’s 7th deserve a representative who will prioritize them over questionably sourced dark money.”

Bourdeaux also raised questions about the PAC’s co-founder, 29-year-old crypo billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried, who was also a major donor to President Joe Biden’s campaign.

McBath’s campaign declined to respond.



POSTED: Milledgeville native Lisa Cook could become the first Black woman to serve on the Federal Reserve Board, but first she has to navigate the Senate confirmation process and attacks from conservatives who say she isn’t qualified.

Her backers say the criticism isn’t based on her resume, which includes a doctorate degree in macroeconomics and international economics and decades spent researching and analyzing issues related to personal wealth and economic activity.

Her supporters say attacks on Cook follow a Republican pattern of downplaying the accomplishments of women, especially women of color.


The U.S. House on Wednesday signed off on a stop-gap spending bill that would keep the government funded through March 11, avoiding a Feb. 18 shutdown. The Senate is expected to follow suit later this week or early in the next.

The goal is to allow congressional budget writers a few more weeks to iron out a long-term spending plan.

Although the House vote was bipartisan, 272-162, a majority of Republicans were opposed, including all eight GOP members of Georgia’s delegation.

U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Greensboro, said in his weekly newsletter that he opposed the measure because it did not include language to reverse vaccine mandates imposed by President Joe Biden’s administration.

“A vote to fund the government is a vote to fund vaccine mandates!” he wrote.


The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday didn’t strike down Alabama’s new congressional map despite the objections from Democrats who said it failed to adequately reflect the voting power of Black residents.

That doesn’t bode well for similar challenges pending in Georgia, the AJC’s Mark Niesse reports.


Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) attends a Republican National Committee Victory Rally at Dalton Regional Airport in Dalton, Ga., on January 4, 2021. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/TNS)

Credit: TNS

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Credit: TNS

Former U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler launched a new personal website this morning. The site includes details of Loeffler’s background growing up on an Illinois farm, working in finance, and serving in the Senate.

It also details her current work with Greater Georgia, the nonprofit voter mobilization group she founded after the 2021 runoff elections.

Loeffler’s team says she’s not a candidate for any office, but may we suggest a visit to the site if only for vintage photos of Loeffler with her pigs and cows in high school? It’s a more casual side of Loeffler we didn’t see as much of when she was in office.


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