The Jolt: If Republicans have a problem with Marjorie Greene, they aren’t saying

Long before she was elected to the U.S. House, we knew that Marjorie Taylor Greene was problematic.

We reported that she had said racist things. And xenophobic things. And anti-Semitic things. We reported that she had supported QAnon. We reported about the conspiracy theories she spread about 9/11 and the mass shooting in Las Vegas.

Remember, she called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a “bitch” on the day she won the Republican runoff over Rome neurosurgeon John Cowan, who promised to be a “conservative without the crazy.” (And shortly thereafter, Greene kicked one of your Insiders out of the room.)

Of course, the list of what we know about the Rome Republican has only grown since she was sworn in earlier this month.

Now we know she also confronted teenage survivors of the Parkland school shooting and “liked” posts on social media that called for the execution of lawmakers like Pelosi.

But here is what we don’t have any clarity about: whether her Republican colleagues are actually going to do anything about it.

Back when voters in the 14th Congressional District had a choice between Greene and Cowan, several members of Congress went on the record condemning her actions. She was not the right person to represent Georgia in Washington, they said.

Their criticisms stopped after she won the runoff and then-President Donald Trump labeled her a rising star. GOP members of the Georgia delegation have not piped up since, even as Greene’s Twitter feed has become fodder for the national media; the social media network suspended her account at least twice for rule violations.

Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy recently said he wanted to have a chat with Greene. A talking-to: that’s all we know of right now.

Greene was assigned to a high-profile committee overseeing America’s schools and education policies. At least for now, she enjoys the same access and perks as every other member of Congress despite endorsing the deaths of her colleagues.

A Democratic member, Rep. Jimmy Gomez of California, said he will file a resolution to expel Greene. That would require two-thirds of House members to pass, meaning a large chunk of GOP members. Highly unlikely.

In the past, Pelosi has said that Greene is a problem for Republicans to deal with. How will they?

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Perhaps in response to criticisms that her bombastic social media persona was overshadowing her duties to 14th District voters, Marjorie Taylor Greene is holding a series of town hall meetings this week.

The first two were held in Rome and Dalton; a third is scheduled for tonight in Dallas. Access to the meetings was tightly controlled, and our review of the Facebook livestream indicates that much of the discussion centered around Greene’s usual talking points like criticizing the way Georgia ran the general election and railing against President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

A reporter from Chattanooga-based WRCB-TV attended Wednesday night’s town hall but was told there would not be an opportunity to ask Greene questions. When she attempted to do so anyway, the reporter said a Whitfield County deputy threatened to arrest her.

The TV crew was then escorted out of the building.

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The bridge spanning the Chattahoochee River near Truist Park is named for a racist governor who wielded ax handles to ward off Black activists. Some lawmakers want to rechristen it in honor of the Hammer.

State Rep. Teri Anulewicz is pushing legislation that erases the names of former Gov. Lester Maddox and his wife Virginia from the busy I-75 bridge that crosses the Chattahoochee and replaces it with an honor for the late Hank Aaron.

“Hank Aaron is what Georgia is all about,” the Smyrna Democrat said of the barrier-breaking sports icon, who died last week.

“When I think about Georgia today, and how our state deserves to be represented, I certainly don’t think of Lester Maddox and his legacy as a staunch segregationist. Hank Aaron exemplifies all that is good about Georgia, all that we have overcome, and how boundless our future is.”

It’s a longshot proposal, though it comes amid calls to celebrate Aaron’s legacy in other ways: Some have suggested renaming the Braves “the Hammers” in his honor. Others called for the team to add his name to its stadium.

Wiping the name of the former governor, who threatened African-American students trying to integrate his restaurant in the 1960s with “Pickrick drumstick” ax handles, is tricky under a Gold Dome.

Look no further than the stalled effort to rebrand another bridge named for a racist politician.

Savannah’s political leaders have urged the state for years to ditch the name of Eugene Talmadge, a staunch segregationist and three-term governor, from the iconic bridge that connects the city with Savannah.

Not even the support of a small army of Girl Scouts could help Republican state Rep. Ron Stephens, who represents a portion of the city, successfully rename it for Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low, a Savannah native.

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Gov. Brian Kemp has tapped former U.S. Attorney Charlie Peeler to represent the state in a lawsuit filed by the Democratic Party of Georgia in connection with 2018 claims that the Democrats attempted to hack the state’s voting registration systems.

Kemp chose Peeler after Attorney General Chris Carr recused himself because of a conflict of interest. But the governor’s choice raised eyebrows in legal circles, in part because Peeler only resigned as top federal prosecutor in middle Georgia in December.

The lawsuit targets Kemp’s decision two days before the 2018 election for Georgia governor to use his power as secretary of state to open an investigation into what he called a “failed hacking attempt” of voter registration systems involving the Democratic Party.

Carr’s office announced 18 months later that it found no evidence of a hack and closed the investigation Kemp had launched. Democrats want a court to determine that Kemp’s office broke the law, require the secretary of state’s office to remove a press release about the hacking accusations from its website and award the party no more than $20 in damages — a symbolic amount.

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Jolt fans have told us you want the nitty gritty on the notable legislation moving at the state Capitol. Are you gluttons for punishment? Perhaps. But when you ask, we answer, people.

Among the high-profile bills dropped this week:

  • Senate Bill 29, from freshman Sen. Jason Anavitarte (R-Dallas), would create a photo ID requirement for absentee voting. Voters would need to submit a photocopy of their ID both when applying for absentee ballots and when returning them;
  • House Bill 112, from Rep. Trey Kelley (R- Cedartown), would limit people’s ability to sue businesses and health care providers if they contract COVID-19. Lawmakers approved those limits last summer, but they expire in July;
  • A bill from Rep. Houston Gaines (R-Athens) would offer three weeks of paid parental leave to state employees, including teachers. A similar bill cruised through the House last year, but stalled in the Senate;
  • A trio of gaming bills are now on the move. SB 30, from state Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta), would establish a Georgia Horse Racing Commission to license up to three racetracks in the state.

HB 30, from Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah), would create a ballot measure asking Georgia voters whether they support allowing casinos in the state, and HB 86, also from Stephens, would legalize online sports betting in the state.

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We also expect legislation to change Georgia’s citizens arrest law to come soon. Tonight, the Savannah City Council will vote on a resolution supporting HB 45, a bill from Rep. Carl Gilliard (D-Garden City), to repeal Georgia’s “stand your ground” law, too.

From the Savannah Morning News:

“Savannah Mayor Van Johnson said the repeal of the laws would help to legally protect Georgia residents.

“These stand your ground laws are associated with increased homicides,” Johnson said. “Right now, our law allows the person to shoot and kill another person, even when they can clearly and safely walk away. There is not a retreat required….

“In order to prevent things like that from happening we have to prevent the opportunities for those things to happen,” Johnson said.

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Today Under the Gold Dome:

  • The House of Representatives gavels in at 10 am;
  • The Senate convenes at 10 am;
  • Various House and Senate committees meet throughout the day.

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Gwinnett County election board chair Alice O’Lenick is already facing calls to resign for partisan comments suggesting election laws should change to give fellow Republicans “at least a shot” at winning in the next election.

She raised more eyebrows this week when she commented on a Gwinnett Daily Post article on Facebook outlining Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan’s stance opposing an effort by some Republicans to end no-excuse absentee voting.

“Then end early voting,” she wrote on Facebook.

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Could Gabriel Sterling be a witness in the Senate impeachment trial against former president Donald Trump?

That’s what CNN’s Erin Burnett asked the state’s voting systems implementation manager when he appeared on her show Wednesday night.

“I’ve got a job down here in Georgia that I have to do. But of course, if, you know, it comes to that, I don’t know if I have a choice in the matter,” Sterling said.

Sterling also said the Capitol insurrection that followed Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally on the National Mall was the worst case scenario of what he’d imagined when he implored the president to “stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence” during a December press conference.

“I hate being right,” Sterling said Wednesday night. “I’m disgusted that I was right.”

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A “thank you” letter from Georgia’s entire congressional delegation — a bipartisan group of two U.S. senators and all 14 House members — was sent to the leader of the state’s National Guard after soldiers helped protect the U.S. Capitol Complex during the days surrounding inauguration.

“We are writing to thank you and the Georgia National Guard for the professionalism and dedication to duty your troops displayed while protecting the U.S. Capitol prior to, during, and after the recent inauguration of President Joseph Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris,” the letter to Major General Tom Carden said. “Your soldiers were called upon at a moment’s notice and responded to a challenging situation with the effectiveness, tenacity, and readiness that has come to define what it means to be a Citizen Soldier.”

U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Athens, took the lead on the letter. He is a U.S. Navy veteran.

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The rest of the story: After vowing to return to the Capitol Wednesday following his ejection Tuesday over failing to get tested for COVID-19, Rep. David Clark (R-Buford) was a no-show.

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