The Jolt: Butch Miller says new Georgia residents need to ‘assimilate’ to conservative values

Lieutenant governor candidate and Georgia Senate President Pro-Tem Butch Miller speaks at the Georgia GOP convention at Jekyll Island on Saturday, June 5, 2021. (Photo: Nathan Posner for The Atlanta-Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Nathan Posner

Credit: Nathan Posner

Lieutenant governor candidate and Georgia Senate President Pro-Tem Butch Miller speaks at the Georgia GOP convention at Jekyll Island on Saturday, June 5, 2021. (Photo: Nathan Posner for The Atlanta-Journal-Constitution)

The question from talk show host Brian Pritchard was a wonky one about tax policy. The answer from Senate GOP leader Butch Miller was anything but.

“We have attracted many people to the state of Georgia that don’t think like us,” said Miller, a candidate for lieutenant governor. “We need to make sure we are attracting people to Georgia that do think like us. And if they don’t think like us, they need to assimilate into our values and our culture.”

Miller’s remarks immediately drew howls from critics who say the remarks were at best insensitive and at worst racist.

“Hey Siri, can you show me what xenophobia looks like?” quipped Sara Tindall Ghazal, a former state Democratic staffer and current member of the state election board.

“There is so much to unpack in this statement. I’ll keep it simple and just say it’s disgraceful, it’s exclusionary, and…very Trumpy,” said state Rep. Erick Allen, a Democrat running for lieutenant governor.

“This statement reeks of racism and authoritarianism. Who is he to tell people how to think?” asked state Rep. Jasmine Clark, a Gwinnett Democrat.

Miller, for his part, didn’t find any objection with his comments. We asked his campaign for comment, and shortly after he doubled down.

“You got that right,” he wrote. “Conservative leadership has worked for everyone in this state and that’s a message I want voters to hear.”


Speaking of Brian Pritchard, the host is putting together a candidate and political forum on Nov. 6 hosted by the “Power of Five” ultra-conservative north Georgia counties: Fannin, Gilmer, Towns, Union and Pickens. The event will be televised live on the Voice of Rural America Network.


U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm will take a trip through Georgia on Friday alongside U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff.

The purpose is to highlight President Joe Biden’s agenda contained in two bills that have had trouble making it through Congress recently: the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and the as-of-now $3.5 trillion social spending and climate change legislation.

Their itinerary starts with a visit to a biofuels facility in Soperton in middle Georgia. Then they will tour the SeaPoint Industrial Terminal Complex in Savannah and host a solar power roundtable before meeting with environmental justice community leaders, residents and faith leaders about neighborhoods near polluters.

“I’m excited to head to Savannah this week with Sen. Jon Ossoff to see firsthand how President Biden’s infrastructure agenda will turbocharge Georgia’s economy with massive job opportunities in clean energy manufacturing and technology across the state,” Granholm said in a statement.


One detail to keep an eye on in the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package now being debated by Democrats: A proposal from Sen. Raphael Warnock and Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware, for $55 billion to renovate HBCU campuses across the country, including nine in Georgia.

Warnock is a 1991 graduate of Morehouse College.

During a joint interview with NPR, Coons said a recent negotiation that knocked the proposal down to $30 billion isn’t a done deal.

“As this package gets slimmed down because of the more modest ambition of some of our colleagues, we are going to fight tirelessly to make sure that there are robust resources for HBCU infrastructure in this bill,” Coons said.


Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell proposed a compromise on lifting the debt ceiling to avoid a financial catastrophe later this month, but as of this morning he and Democrat Leader Chuck Schumer were still ironing out the details.

This is likely a two-step process. The Senate is poised to approve some type of temporary suspension of the debt ceiling or lift it to a number that will postpone the date of default for a month or two. In the process, Republicans would avoid another high-profile filibuster that angers Democrats.

If the Senate irons out its own agreement and doesn’t pass the bill approved in the House, which seems to be the path lawmakers are on, the House will instead have to pass the Senate version. Representatives could do so by voice vote, but if members object the House could be called back early to Washington for a vote.


“There is no such thing as a free lunch, unless you are an employee of the Georgia Department of Labor,” is how a bombshell investigative piece from the AJC’s Chris Joyner and Bill Rankin begins. The duo goes on to describe the $1 million in free meals that Labor Commissioner Mark Butler authorized for staff since March 2020 using state and federal dollars intended for unemployment benefits.

Georgia Inspector General Scott McAfee described the program as a waste of taxpayer money and criticized the labor department’s attempts to explain the expenditures, per a letter he sent to Gov. Brian Kemp on Monday. Kemp gave the reporters a “no comment” for their article.

Here are some highlights the state Department of Administrative Services’ audit cited in the article:

  • The labor department spent $1,112,802 to purchase meals for employees from March 2020 through June 2021, roughly split between state and federal funds.
  • Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said he got permission from DOAS to make the purchases, but auditors and the Office of the Inspector General both said the labor department abused the practice, carrying it on long past its emergency authorization.
  • Costs often ran over the allowable daily limit for employee lunches and sometimes included sales tax, which the state is not required to pay.
  • The labor department did not have an itemized receipt for all the purchases, as required by state purchasing rules.


Clayton County officials are leaning on Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock to help change a federal law in ways that could bring in $18 million in airport-related income, the AJC’s Leon Stafford writes.

Warnock and Ossoff recently introduced a federal bill that would allow Clayton to resume collections of fuel taxes from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, which is operated by the city of Atlanta but is located mostly in Clayton County.

For more than two decades, Clayton received millions in funding from the taxes, most recently getting $9 million for the county school system and $9 million for the county government and Clayton’s seven cities.

But a 2014 Federal Aviation Administration policy mandated all revenue from air travel fees must go back to airports for infrastructure, operations and other airfield needs.


We got hold of an Atlanta mayoral poll commissioned by a conservative-leaning group that has City Council President Felicia Moore with a commanding lead at 32%, followed by former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed at 18% and Councilman Andre Dickens at 15%. About 20% of voters were either undecided or didn’t yet know.

Atlanta mayoral poll commissioned by a conservative-leaning group that has City Council President Felicia Moore with a commanding lead at 32%.

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Senate candidate Herschel Walker was spotted in Baldwin County earlier this week speaking at an event to benefit the local drug court. WALA-TV reported that Walker “told his life story hoping to inspire others to get through their issues.”

But before our Republican readers wonder where their invitations went, we’ll tell you that Walker was in Baldwin County, Fla. on Florida’s Gulf Coast — not Baldwin County, Ga.

Walker’s spokeswoman tells us the candidate was speaking at a previously scheduled event and will be back to Georgia-based campaign events next week.


Candidates for office have another week before they face the Federal Election Commission’s deadline to report fundraising numbers for the third quarter, but one hopeful is already talking up his haul.

Physician Rich McCormick, who wants a rematch against U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux in Georgia’s 7th Congressional District, says he collected $600,000 from July through September from 6,500 donors, bringing his total raised to $1.1 million.

McCormick hopes this puts him in the top tier of Republican challengers running for House seats. His campaign against Bourdeaux could be even more challenging if the General Assembly draws a seat that leans further toward Democrats in 2022.


Our colleague James Salzer reports that when lawmakers traveled the state this summer to hear public comment on how they should run the upcoming redistricting session, Capitol lobbyists tagged along to make sure they were properly wined and dined. Read more here.


Sheneka Jones Terry made history Wednesday when she was sworn in as the acting district attorney for the Chattahoochee Judicial District, the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports.

Terry is the first Black woman to serve as DA for the six-county area in west middle Georgia.

She takes over for Todd Jones, who was suspended earlier this week by Gov. Brain Kemp. Jones is under indictment for a range of serious crimes related to his conduct in office, including asking a Columbus police officer to lie under oath.


The University of Georgia has named its Higher Education Institute for former state Rep. Louise McBee, the Red and Black reports.

McBee had a lengthy career at UGA, rising from Dean of Women to acting vice president of academic affairs. She then served from 1992 to 2004 in the state House, where she is credited with establishing the Governor’s Teaching Fellows Program.

When she passed away in March at the age of 96, Gov. Brian Kemp remembered McBee as “a dear friend” and “great public servant.”


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