The Jolt: Why one Georgia lawmaker is giving the state House the finger

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
3/12/18 - Atlanta - Rep. Dominic LaRiccia, R - Douglas, opposed the bill.    After some debate the Georgia House passed  SB 17, the "brunch bill", which would allow localities to vote on serving alcohol on Sunday beginning at 11am.  BOB ANDRES  /BANDRES@AJC.COM



3/12/18 - Atlanta - Rep. Dominic LaRiccia, R - Douglas, opposed the bill. After some debate the Georgia House passed SB 17, the "brunch bill", which would allow localities to vote on serving alcohol on Sunday beginning at 11am. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM

No, that’s not your imagination. State Rep. Dominic LaRiccia’s middle finger is indeed “shooting the bird” in this year’s Georgia House class photo.

Blame it on exasperation with the politics of the chamber. Blame it on childish behavior. LaRiccia, a Douglas Republican who isn’t running for reelection, credits a mix of both.

“It’s not an F-U moment,” he said. “But I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t pent up frustration.”

State Rep. Dominic LaRiccia puts his middle finger in a choice position in the annual House gallery photo.

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Once a floor leader for Gov. Brian Kemp, LaRiccia has fallen out of favor with some senior Republicans in recent years and was drawn into the same district with a fellow GOP legislator during redistricting. He’s increasingly thinking about his next moves “transitioning” back to civilian life and spending more time with his family.

So when a photographer took the annual group photo of the Georgia House last month, LaRiccia was in a mischievous mood.

He joked with colleagues about TikTok videos of kids ruining family photos with not-so-family friendly hand gestures and briefly folded his own hands with an outstretched middle finger.

He didn’t think the elaborate camera used to capture the 180 House members and dozens of staffers caught the moment. He was wrong.

“I told my wife, ‘Baby, it looks like I found trouble again.’”

He wants his colleagues to know he wasn’t being vengeful.

“Everybody who knows me knows that if I wanted to go out cowboy style, guns blazing, I would go out hard. But I don’t feel vindictive at all. We were just cutting up.”

So does he regret being perhaps the only state legislator in Georgia history caught flipping the bird in an official photo?

“Would I like to have it back? Yes. But that’s who I am,” he said. “I can’t even believe someone found it. But you did. So I just have to live with the consequences.”

UPDATES: A few hours after the Jolt published, LaRiccia apologized to the chamber and asked his peers for forgiveness.

“If you know me and you’re going into battle, I’m the guy you want standing beside you.

“But that does not excuse an inappropriate action or behavior or speech. And if you’ll ask my wife, she’ll tell you I am prone to all of that. However, it’s made me pretty good at apologizing.

“There’s a lot that I can say and I’ve heard I’ve even heard the word hypocrite. Let me be clear about something with the word hypocrite. We all are, and I am the chief. We are all broken.”

House Ethics Chairman Randy Nix then responded, citing a House rule that requires all representatives to conduct themselves with dignity and respect for others.

“I want you to think about conducting yourself while you’re here as if what you’re saying and what you’re doing is being livestreamed directly to your mother,” he said.

When Nix completed speaking, the entire House rose for a standing ovation.


UNDER THE GOLD DOME, Tuesday, Feb. 8:

  • 8:00 a.m.: Committee meetings begin;
  • 10:00 a.m.: The House gavels in;
  • 10:00 a.m.: The Senate convenes.



  • The House passed cityhood bills for the proposed City of Vinings and City of Lost Mountain, both in Cobb County. If passed by the Senate, the proposals will go to referendums on the May 24th primary ballot. State Rep. Erick Allen, who represents Vinings, spoke out against the Vinings cityhood measure;
  • The Senate passed a measure from state Sen. Jason Anavitarte, R-Dallas, to place a statue of Justice Clarence Thomas on the state Capitol grounds, but not without major objections from Democrats. Maya Prabhu has the details;
  • The Senate also passed a bill to expand Medicaid coverage for new moms from six months postpartum to a full year.



  • The Republican Governors Association is up with the first of what we expect to be many ads from the GOP hitting Stacey Abrams for her recent maskless photo with elementary school kids.


We’ve got U.S. Sen Raphael Warnock’s first ad of the 2022 cycle, telling viewers, “I see you, I hear you, I am you.”


We scooped Monday that former state Rep. Vernon Jones will drop his bid for governor, freeing up about 10% of the GOP vote he was capturing in recent polls for either Gov. Brian Kemp or former Sen. David Perdue. Jones says he’ll now run for the open House seat in the 10th Congressional District.


Stacey Abrams reported Monday she’d raised about $9 million in contributions since she got into the race for governor a few months ago.

Our colleague and resident campaign finance nerd James Salzer noted $4.1 million of the $9 million came from contributions of $1,000 or more. Of those, about 80% came from outside of Georgia.

That fits the pattern of Abrams’ run in 2018, when she showed national fundraising appeal. The voting rights group she founded, Fair Fight, has much the same.

The biggest state for Abrams’ out-of-state cash was California, where donors sent in about $1 million of the $4.1 million she raised in contributions of $1,000 or more.

And Salzer spotted a name that will stick out for Abrams’ GOP critics-- Democratic megadonor George Soros, who, along with his family, contributed just over $59,000 to Abrams’ campaign last month.


Speaking of Stacey Abrams, she sat down for a very newsy interview with newly launched media outlet Capital B Atlanta.

Talking to editor-at-large Jewel Wicker, Abrams rebranded Gov. Brian Kemp’s proposal for “Constitutional carry” (a push to carry a firearm without a permit) as “criminal carry;” committed to make Medicaid expansion her first act in office; and rejected the debate about banning Critical Race Theory in Georgia schools as a semantic distraction.

“I’m not going to let them distract me with language, I’m going to focus on what they’re actually trying to do. And that is [they’re trying to] hide the truth and not give children a complete education,” she said.


A former Georgia football player has mounted a bid against an incumbent in Congress and it’s not Herschel Walker.

This time, the potential spoiler is former Bulldog Ben Souther, who notched a handful of tackles during two seasons on the field with the Dawgs.

Last week Souther got into the race for the GOP nomination in the 9th Congressional District, a seat currently held by GOP freshman Andrew Clyde.

Athens-based Clyde no longer lives in the district under the new map approved by the General Assembly, but he has said he plans to run for his seat again anyway.

The rules do not require members of Congress to live in the districts they represent, but the once-dominant Hall County GOP has been itching to get one of their own back in power.

Souther, a former FBI agent and SWAT team member, lives in Murrayville in Hall County. He appeared on Martha Zoller’s WDUN radio show Monday.


In other fundraising tidbits:

  • Democrat Charlie Bailey raised about $525,000 in the three weeks since switching from the race for attorney general to the lieutenant governor’s contest. That makes him the leading Democratic fundraiser for the quarter. Donors include former Gov. Roy Barnes, Jason Carter, DuBose Porter and the campaign of Fulton District Attorney Fani Willis.
  • Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger ended the fundraising period with about $510,000 in the bank. He was edged by his top Republican rival, U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, who has about $650,000 in his account. Democratic front-runner Bee Nguyen led them both with almost $950,000 on hand.
  • State Sen. Tyler Harper, a Republican running for state Agriculture Commissioner, reported raising just over $950,000 overall and finished the year with $824,000 cash on hand. That includes a $500,000 loan from the candidate.
  • Elizabeth Fite, the president of the state Bar of Georgia, raised about $210,000 in less than three weeks in her race for Georgia Court of Appeals. Fite nearly matched the amount her opponent, Appeals Court Judge Andrew Pinson, has raised since he was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp in August 2021.



U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock sent a letter to President Joe Biden Monday asking for a federal investigation into whether international shippers participated in price-gouging during the pandemic and its squeeze on the supply chain.

“As recently reported by Bloomberg, global carriers have never been more profitable,” he wrote. “In the second quarter of 2020, soon after the COVID-19 emergency declaration, global carriers made a profit of $2.2 billion. In the third quarter of 2021, the most recent data available, their profit rose to $48.1 billion – an increase of more than 2,000%.”

Warnock wants the White House’s Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force to investigate the effects that business practices by international cargo carriers have on prices domestically.


From the personnel file: David Allison, the long-time editor-in-chief of Atlanta Business Chronicle, has joined Atlanta-based Lexicon Strategies as a partner.


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