The Jolt: Raffensperger accuses DOJ of conspiring with voting groups, nonprofits

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Secretary Of State Brad Raffensperger speaks during a press conference at the Georgia State Capitol on Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. (Christine Tannous /

Credit: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Secretary Of State Brad Raffensperger speaks during a press conference at the Georgia State Capitol on Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. (Christine Tannous /

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is trying to use open records laws to find political motivations behind the DOJ’s lawsuit over Georgia’s voting law.

Raffensperger filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the U.S. Department of Justice Tuesday seeking any communications, if they exist, between the Department and dozens of his legal and political opponents, the AJC’s Mark Niesse tells us. The request names Stacey Abrams, Fair Fight Action, Black Voters Matter Trust Fund, the 6th District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and a variety of attorneys and organizations.

Also on the list: the League of Women Voters of Georgia, Latino Community Fund Georgia, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the politically active Black sorority. Many of the groups named in Raffensperger’s request spoke out against Senate Bill 202 when it passed earlier this year.

Even if there were no communications between the Department and the groups, Raffensperger said that would mean the Department of Justice is biased against Georgia. Some Democrat-controlled states have similar voter ID requirements, and they provide fewer early voting opportunities, but they aren’t being sued, he said.

“Either way it’s troublesome because if they came up with this on their own, it means the DOJ has become politicized,” Raffensperger said in an interview. “We want to know who’s pulling their strings, and if they are.”

Fair Fight Action CEO Lauren Groh-Wargo ridiculed Raffensperger’s maneuvering.

“The latest nonsense from Brad Raffensperger is more grandstanding and another sad move by a very desperate man,” Groh-Wargo wrote on Twitter.

The Department of Justice’s lawsuit asks a judge to throw out major parts of Georgia’s voting law, including new voter ID requirements, tighter absentee ballot application deadlines, fewer ballot drop boxes, provisional ballot rejections and a ban on volunteers handing out food and water to voters waiting in line. The department argues that the changes, made by state Republicans in response to President Donald Trump’s inaccurate claims about the 2020 general election, make it harder for Black voters to cast ballots.

Raffensperger and Attorney General Chris Carr have asked a judge to dismiss the case.


“Close the schools.” That was the call of state Rep. Roger Bruce Wednesday in response to the news that a 13-year-old boy in Floyd County has died from COVID-19.

“We’re asking that the schools be closed until all of the children are able to get the vaccine,” said Bruce, according to CBS 46. “If you’re not going to close the schools, then mandate that you wear a mask if you’re in school.”

The Atlanta lawmaker’s suggestion to shutter all state schools until all children are vaccinated came at a Capitol press conference called by the House Democratic Caucus’ COVID-19 Response Team and it came as a shock to even some of his fellow House Democrats.

“What in the Sam Hill is this?” a text read to one of your Insiders.

Rep. James Beverly, the state House minority leader, even put out a statement distancing the group from Bruce’s comments.

“The Georgia House Democratic Caucus believes the best place for our students to learn is in a safe productive environment in person,” the Macon lawmaker said. “Statements made from some of our members at today’s press conference regarding the closing of schools reflects the unfortunate pathway of in-person learning for many of our school districts with Georgia’s current COVID-19 case load.”

The event was originally meant to lay out House Democrats’ priorities, including a call for Gov. Brian Kemp to issue a state-wide mask mandate in schools, including colleges and universities. The lawmakers also want Kemp to create a state-wide “unified virtual learning infrastructure” to help school systems that have struggled to provide their own online schooling platforms for students.

Cody Hall, Gov. Brian Kemp’s spokesman, jumped on Bruce’s unscripted comments in a statement to CBS 46:

“It is clear—as it has been from the beginning of the pandemic—that the only plan Georgia Democrats have is to play pandemic politics. Their plan is to shut down businesses, close schools, and force every kid to wear a mask. Governor Kemp will remain focused on taking common sense steps to protect Georgia businesses, encourage vaccination, keep kids in school, and ensure our hospitals and health care workers have the resources they need to deliver care to Georgians in need.”


Georgia’s Democratic lawmakers reacted Wednesday to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to allow Texas’ six-week abortion ban to go into effect.

Sen. Raphael Warnock wrote on Twitter that the Texas law, “is exactly why we need to keep a Senate with the power to appoint Supreme Court justices that respect a woman’s right to choose.”

Georgia state Sen. Jen Jordan, a Democrat running for attorney general, spoke out against Georgia’s own restrictive abortion law when it passed in 2019. Jordan issued a lengthy statement critical of the Texas law, including the fact that there are no exceptions in the statute for cases of rape, incest, or for the health of the mother involved.

State Rep. Bee Nguyen, who is running for Secretary of State, wrote on Twitter, “Women were on the frontline when Georgia passed the 6-week abortion ban in 2019. I had never seen so many of my colleagues cry or heard so many women tell deeply personal stories of their abortions & miscarriages. It was harrowing & traumatizing. And here we are again.”

Georgia Republicans have been far less vocal so far. Instead of speaking out about the Texas law Wednesday, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr focused on a new lawsuit that the State of Georgia has joined against the Biden administration, suing the federal government over transgender children participating in sports.


Georgia U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath made it clear after the ruling that abortion rights will remain one of the issues she champions into the 2022 election.

McBath even sent a fundraising appeal to supporters shortly after the decision went public, describing her candidacy as a way to help fight back against laws in Texas and Georgia. Proceeds will benefit Planned Parenthood of Texas.

“Unlike a similar 2019 bill in Georgia, which was struck down by district courts as unconstitutional, the Texas bill made it all the way to the Supreme Court, and last night they took no action allowing the Texas law to go into effect today,” the email said. “This Texas bill is dangerous, full stop.”

McBath’s outspokenness on the issue is another indication of how blue-leaning her 6th District currently is, something that could change after redistricting. The Marietta Democrat’s team has even called out her Republican opponents for being anti-abortion.

Jake Evans and Suzi Voyles both told the Georgia Life Alliance this year that they think abortion should be illegal. Evans said there should be exceptions if the mother’s life is in danger but not in cases of rape or incest. Voyles didn’t indicate she supported any exceptions.

Another candidate, former state Rep. Meagan Hanson, said prior to her 2016 race that abortion should be illegal but with exceptions. But she has not joined the other candidates in filling out the questionnaire this year.

“While Jake Evans’s and Suzi Voyles’ personal extremist agendas to control women’s bodies are among the most radical in the country, Rep. McBath has proudly fought for the right of women to make their own health care decisions,” her campaign manager, Jake Orvis, told a left-leaning newsletter.


U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff worked behind the scenes to help evacuate two Afghan orphans to safety, according to a report in today’s New York Times.

In an article outlining how members of Congress felt compelled to act after the Taliban took control of the nation, Ossoff is credited with using his rolodex to get a private company involved in the issue.

Ossoff wouldn’t talk to the Times, but an aide told a reporter that Ossoff’s days as a journalist shooting documentaries across the globe gave him a point of contact who then called an ex-military officer who facilitated getting the children on a USAID plane in Kabul.

Ossoff is currently on a congressional delegation trip to Israel with other Democratic senators. During this time, he will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and President Isaac Herzog before traveling to Tunisia and Greece, according to Jewish Insider.


A Civiqs poll of Georgia voters suggests there could be growing frustration with President Joe Biden.

The poll dated Tuesday showed the Democrat’s approval rating dipped ever so slightly since the Taliban recaptured Afghanistan, and that he’s now 12 percentage points underwater. That’s a 40% approval rating -- and a 52% disapproval. In Georgia, Biden has polled for months at the 50-51% disapproval mark.

Check out the charts here.


You probably won’t be surprised, but former President Donald Trump continues to seethe at Gov. Brian Kemp for refusing his demands to illegally overturn the election results in Georgia.

In a radio interview Wednesday on the far-right WMLB radio show, Trump boasted of late rallies that he said put Kemp over the top against Stacey Abrams in the 2018 election. Said Trump:

“They were there for me, not for him. They didn’t know who he was. And then when I ask him for help on a special session for election integrity, ‘Sir, I won’t be able to do that.’ I say, you’ve got to be kidding. One thing has nothing to do with the other. He’s a disaster.”


Gov. Brian Kemp rolled out endorsements this morning from dozens of state legislators backing his re-election campaign in a display of institutional strength.

Among the few Republican names not on the list: State Sens. Brandon Beach and Burt Jones, who both backed an effort to pressure him to call a special session to overturn election results.

Jones is now running to be Georgia’s No. 2 official; his chief Republican rival, state Sen. Butch Miller, is on the pro-Kemp roster.

One other name you might notice is missing is that of House Speaker David Ralston. But we’re told that’s no oversight or snub. Kemp’s campaign hopes that Ralston will announce his endorsement at a later date.


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