The Jolt: Georgia General Assembly getting its own ‘Freedom Caucus’

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Lawmakers pass new Georgia congressional map, Gov. Kemp expected to sign it into law

Lawmakers pass new Georgia congressional map, Gov. Kemp expected to sign it into law

Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is making headlines in Washington today, but he’s also looking to make a mark on state legislatures, including Georgia’s, with the launch of the State Freedom Caucus Network.

The network will be an extension of the House Freedom Caucus, the group of conservative House members that Meadows once chaired, which has successfully moved the House GOP agenda to the right since it was founded in 2015.

The network will be supported by the Conservative Partnership Institute, a Washington-based non-profit founded by former Sen. Jim DeMint, where Meadows has been a senior partner since leaving the White House earlier this year.

Also on the CPI staff with Meadows is Cleta Mitchell, a prominent Republican attorney who helped Trump in his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.

Mitchell and Meadows were both on the infamous phone call that Trump placed to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in January of this year, telling Georgia officials, “Fellas, I need 11,000 votes. Give me a break.” Mitchell now chairs the “Election Integrity Network” for CPI.

In a press release, CPI says that its goal in supporting the State Freedom Caucus Network is to seed state legislatures across the country with “principled, America-First conservatives.” Among CPI’s top priorities for legislative issues are “election integrity, critical race theory, school choice, vaccine mandates, and police reform.”

The Georgia House Freedom Caucus will launch Tuesday morning at the state Capitol with at least a half-dozen members who could make life more difficult for the Georgia’s GOP’s leaders this legislative session the same way the U.S. House group stymied former House Speakers John Boehner and Paul Ryan.

Organizers say the Georgia group will start with at least seven Republican members: State Reps. Charlice Byrd, Emory Dunahoo, Sheri Gilligan and Philip Singleton; and state Sens. Brandon Beach, Greg Dolezal and Burt Jones.

Of those, Jones is the most prominent. He is running for lieutenant governor with Donald Trump’s support, while his GOP rival Butch Miller is pursuing hard-right policies, such as banning ballot drop boxes, to curry favor with conservatives. Jeanne Seaver, a former Trump organizer, is also in the primary.

Along with the event at the Capitol today, a gala is scheduled for Buckhead Tuesday night featuring Meadows, House Freedom Caucus chairman U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs, and newly minted Freedom Caucus members from 25 states, all pledging to move the Freedom Caucus agenda in their legislatures in 2022.


Another Republican still focused on the 2020 election is former senator-turned-gubernatorial candidate David Perdue, who was forced into a losing runoff with Sen. Jon Ossoff after Perdue failed to win more than 50% of the vote in November of last year.

Our colleague, Mark Niesse, reported Friday that Perdue has filed a lawsuit seeking to inspect absentee ballots cast in Fulton County in the November election. A judge dismissed an earlier lawsuit from Trump supporters looking to inspect the same ballots after state investigators said they had found no evidence of fraud.

Perdue’s attorney in the case is Bob Cheeley, an Alpharetta trial lawyer who testified to a state Senate committee in December of 2020 about the ballot counting process at State Farm Arena.

He told senators then that he had been trying to access Fulton County ballots to count them with his own scanners. He also read a portion of FDR’s speech following the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor and said that the vote counting at State Farm, like the Japanese attack, had been “deliberately planned.”


Atlanta’s mayor-elect Andre Dickens is scheduled to be in Washington today.

Our colleague J.D. Capelouto tells us that Dickens told a group of Atlanta’s local neighborhood leaders that he would be heading to the nation’s capital for meetings with Housing Secretary Marcia Fudge and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.

Dickens also mentioned he will go to the White House, but he didn’t share any details.

Perhaps another newly elected mayor, Boston’s Michelle Wu, can fill in the gaps. A reporter for Politico said that Wu put out a press release that she and other incoming mayors would be meeting with senior White House officials and Cabinet secretaries, including Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, to discuss how they can work together on “domestic priorities for cities.”

President Joe Biden’s daily schedule doesn’t mention meeting with the mayors, so it’s unclear if he plans to drop in. He and Dickens could run into each other tonight if the mayor-elect scored a ticket to the Democratic National Committee holiday party.

Biden and Dickens did speak on the phone after Dickens’ landslide runoff election win.


House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn is hosting a fundraiser for Rep. Lucy McBath in Atlanta this weekend, indicating he is picking a side in the 7th District Democratic primary where McBath is challenging fellow incumbent Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux.

McBath announced last month that she will run against Bourdeaux in the 7th after the Republican-led General Assembly passed new maps that made McBath’s 6th District heavily conservative.

Clyburn is one of the nation’s most powerful Democrats. He is credited with helping Joe Biden clinch the party’s nomination for president after endorsing Biden shortly before the South Carolina primary in 2020, which Biden went on to win.

Politico also reported Monday that McBath was among nine House members in toss-up districts who split the proceeds of a fundraiser hosted by California Rep. Ro Khanna.


U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa endorsed GOP attorney Jake Evans’ bid for the 6th Congressional District this week.

Endorsements aren’t always newsworthy, but this one is worth a mention because Evans’ rival Rich McCormick earlier included Issa on a list of endorsements for his 6th District that turned out to be holdovers from his 2020 bid for the neighboring 7th District congressional seat.

Jake Evans’ father, Randy Evans, once represented Issa as a high-profile GOP attorney.


In more endorsement news, state Rep. Timothy Barr has picked up an endorsement from U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde for the 10th District GOP primary.

Clyde’s endorsement is most notable because the congressman’s home has been redrawn by GOP lawmakers to be in the 10th District, instead of the 9th District where he currently lives and which he represents in Congress.

Clyde decided to run for reelection in the 9th and said in a press release that he and Georgia’s U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene need “reinforcements” like Barr to help pass their conservative agenda.


Two U.S. House members from Georgia were among 48 lawmakers noted for violating financial disclosure laws in a new investigation produced by Business Insider called “Conflicted Congress.”

The publication reviewed every member of Congress’s filings, plus those of top staffers, and noted who had fallen short of requirements to outline stock trades and other financial holdings under ethics and transparency laws.

Georgia Reps. Rick Allen, R-Augusta, and Austin Scott, R-Tifton, were both cited for missing deadlines to report stock transactions. Scott’s office provided Business Insider with evidence that he either fixed his issues or paid fines. Allen either declined to comment or didn’t respond, according to the project database. Both lawmakers were rated “borderline,” which the publication defined as having actions that deserve more scrutiny but not yet reaching the “danger” level.

All other members of Georgia’s delegation were in financial compliance and rated “solid.”


Fulton County Commission Chairman Robb Pitts says he will run for another term in 2022, but this will be his final campaign, the AJC’s Ben Brasch tells us.

In a press release announcing the launch of his re-election bid, Pitts cites his leadership during the coronavirus pandemic and says if he wins another term he’ll work to protect the county from a state takeover of its elections office.


On a bright note, the Republican National Committee will cap its holiday charity drive today with an event at its RNC Black American Community Center in College Park at 2 p.m..


As always, Jolt readers are some of our favorite tipsters. Send your best scoop, gossip and insider info to, and

Sign Up to receive the Morning Jolt & AJC Politics newsletters in your inbox.