July 17-- The following releases are from various candidate's campaigns leading up to the July 31 election.
AUGUSTA, GA – Wright McLeod, Republican candidate for Congress in Georgia’s 12th Congressional District, today blasted the Obama Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for issuing a new policy directive undermining the welfare reform law passed in 1996.
The new HHS policy eviscerates the federal work requirements that were the foundation of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 by allowing states to waive or override the work requirements by a legal device called the section 1115 waiver authority under the Social Security law (42 U.S.C. 1315).
“Leave it to the Obama Administration to find one of the federal programs that the Contract with America helped to transform and turn those successes into more failures. It’s heartbreaking,” said McLeod.
“We have to put this country back to work. The government insisting that people need its smothering instead of getting out of our way has been the theme of the Obama Administration and his liberal allies, like John Barrow. It’s time to return President Obama to Chicago and Mr. Barrow to Savannah, Athens, or Augusta – if he plans to stay put this time,” said McLeod.
The core principle of welfare reform was that able-bodied adults should be required to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving welfare aid. These reforms implemented in 1996 have often been touted as one of the greatest successes of the Clinton Administration and the Republican House under Speaker Newt Gingrich. In an op-ed for the New York Times in 2006, President Bill Clinton said welfare roles dropped from 12.2 million in 1996 to 4.5 million a decade later.
Sheffield hopes to surprise in 12th District race
By Susan McCord, Staff Writer - The Augusta Chronicle
Sunday, July 15, 2012 7:31 PM
Sheffield, the only one of the four Republicans running in the 12th Congressional District race from outside the Augusta area, almost became Georgia’s insurance commissioner in 2010, finishing second in the nine-way Republican primary before losing a statewide runoff to Ralph Hudgens.
In the 2010 primary, Sheffield carried Columbia, Richmond, Laurens and Bulloch counties, now the most populous in the redrawn 12th.
Sheffield, who was raised in rural Wilkinson County, doesn’t often mention her unsuccessful insurance commissioner bid, focusing instead on her conservative values, her middle-Georgia roots and her accomplishments.
Sheffield’s mother was killed by a driver on drugs when Sheffield was a teen, and her father died 10 years later of brain cancer. Sheffield then cared for her only surviving grandparent, a grandmother who suffered from dementia, for the last nine years of her life.
The setbacks may have kept her in Georgia but didn’t stop the ambitious attorney from completing college, getting master’s degrees in public administration and business and a law degree by the time she was 25.
“I basically knew there wasn’t a safety net, and I was going to have to make it on my own,” Sheffield said.
“Even though I didn’t have them in my life as long as most people, I still give them credit,” she said of her parents. “They instilled certain values in me and certain things that were expected at a very young age.”
Sheffield pursued the insurance commissioner bid from Mableton, a metro Atlanta community where she lives with her husband of eight years, computer programmer Scott Dunphy, but she located to a new address in Dexter, in Laurens County, for her 12th District bid.
Candidates are not required by law to live in the district, but they often choose to. Rep. John Barrow, a Democrat who will face the Republican nominee from the July 31 primary, bought a house on Wheeler Road in Augusta in March after the redrawn district excluded his Savannah residence.
With candidates Wright McLeod, Rick Allen and Lee Anderson hailing from metro Augusta, Sheffield is the only non-Augustan and only female seeking the post, two factors that may be to her advantage, University of Georgia political scientist Charles Bullock said.
When Republicans engage in “friends and neighbors politics,” relying on voters’ tendency to vote for people from their area, the Augusta votes could split among the three local candidates and propel Sheffield into a likely August runoff, he said.
Being a woman also could benefit her campaign among less-attentive voters, who might not be able to distinguish among the three Republican men seeking the post but remember Sheffield because she’s female, Bullock said.
Sheffield said she’s eager to become Georgia’s first conservative congresswoman and considers former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Tennessee Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn as role models.
And while her campaign lacked the funds of Barrow, McLeod, Anderson and Allen in first quarter disclosures and relied heavily on a personal loan to herself, Sheffield runs a social media campaign of tweets, videos, e-mail blasts and Facebook posts. Once she wins the nomination, money “won’t be an issue,” she said.
Her Thursday statement at a Statesboro debate against the new transportation sales tax referendum, posted on Facebook Friday, prompted a barrage of discussion that Sheffield said is always a good thing.
While the tax referendum is definitely a state matter on which Sheffield said she is “not an expert,” the candidate said the 10-year tax going before voters July 31 will not fix Georgia’s transportation issues.
Metro Atlanta rail projects, for example, likely won’t relieve traffic congestion there if funded, and no future funding source for maintenance of complete, or incomplete, projects exists, prompting a likely gas tax increase, she said.
“I just don’t feel this is going to get us where we need to be,” Sheffield said.
Zero is the Right Number for Lobbyists’s Contributions Republican Candidate for PSC, Matt Reid, Stands Against Influence-Peddling
Decatur, Ga. — How can we ensure that Georgia Public Service Commissioners are not influenced by contributions from the utilities they regulate? Republican candidate Matt Reid believes it’s simple. Do not accept any gifts or contributions from them: “Zero gifts for zero dollars,” Reid says.
Matt Reid supports the campaign by Tea Party Georgia and Common Cause asking Georgia lawmakers to pledge not to accept any lobbyist gift valued over $100. Some lawmakers have suggested that there should be a limit but maybe $100 is not the right number.
What is the right number? According to Matt Reid, it is Zero. To remove all doubt about the possibility of undue influence Reid believes we should remove all the money, all the gifts.
An analysis of the June 30, 2012 filing of contributions to his Republican opponent reveals that more than 80% percent came from lobbyists, various utility company executives, and several companies directly associated with the industries regulated by the Georgia Public Service Commission. “I pledge that I will not accept any gifts of any value and challenge every other candidate to join me in rejecting gifts from lobbyists and all related party contributors who might benefit from influencing the decisions of the Public Service Commission."
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Pam Davidson, Candidate, Georgia Public Service Commission
Incumbent Stan Wise: the Facts
Below are reports about Stan’s 18 years on the PSC, a look at what is in store for ratepayers and citizens for the next six years if Wise is re-elected. Having first been elected during Clinton’s first term, Wise will rack up almost 25 years of cozy relationships with utilities, exchanging gifts, favors and sweetheart deals, paid for by Georgia consumers.
The Georgia Public Service Commission
The PSC was created to protect citizens and businesses against the tremendous power of utility monopolies. In a just world, the five Commissioners elected statewide would regulate energy, natural gas and telecommunications as citizens’ last defense against monopoly power in maximizing profit and protecting turf.
That system cannot work when it is overtaken by money and favors and an incumbent Commissioner bought by the utilities.
According to the Politifact “Truth-O-Meter” as reported in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, no less than 91 percent of Wise’s campaign money originates from representatives of the utilities he is charged with regulating. These businesses are not spending their money foolishly.
Gifts and Favors
Stan unashamedly accepts gifts from utility lobbyists and CEOs. This well-known behavior earned him Creative Loafing’s Golden Sleaze award in 2009.These perks totaled a whopping $14,000 since 2006. No wonder the Georgia Report’s Tom Crawford calls him “well-fed.”
According to disclosures, Cobb EMC ratepayers paid $1200 for Stan and his wife to attend a September 15, 2007 Gala at the new Cobb Energy Center, courtesy of Dwight Brown, former CEO of Cobb EMC, now indicted on 35 counts of fraud and racketeering. Stan and Dwight are known to be good friends.
It is no wonder that Wise was Brown’s hand-picked successor for the CEO position he was forced to vacate by court order. In a Marietta Daily Journal interview, Stan gushed, “if I am being given serious consideration, I’m flattered and intrigued.”
Regulated monopolies “take care” of Stan. They work for his re-election by providing him with not only funds but also campaign operatives. They also provide clandestine ways reward him for turning a blind eye or going to bat for them such as giving jobs to his family members, like his son, employed by the GA Power law firm, Troutman Sanders.
Stan Has Forgotten Who He Represents, If he ever knew
Because Wise has chosen to accept utility money and gifts, he has compromised his integrity and won’t defend the ratepayer who elect him. Rationalizing this mafia-style “family” relationship, Stan’s allegiance is stunningly predictable. He has become a utility advocate and lobbyist, often visiting the Capitol to push their legislative agenda, such as was the case when he lobbied in favor of SB 31 Energy Rate Increases to Finance Nuclear Plant Construction.
That bill allows GA Power to collect over $1.7 billion (most of that share holder profit) for a power plant that is not providing any power. Worse yet, Wise always looks the other way as construction delays and cost overruns continue at the power plant. As recently as June 21,2012 Wise voted to approve costs an independent monitor deemed imprudent for Plant Vogtle III and IV.
Significant Rate Increases
Stan has never seen a rate increase he didn’t like. That’s in part why between 2003 and 2017 the average monthly electric residential bill will have risen by $45.49, provided there are no more increases. But you can count on future increases!
Staying out of the Light, to Charge More for It
Keeping ratepayers in the dark (literally and figuratively) requires abolishing checks and balances, intimidation and secrecy.
In 2006, Stan led a fight to get rid of the PSC’s Public Interest Advocacy staff. The staff’s role is to investigate and provide feedback on utility proposals. An AJC editorial noted that, “All too often, Wise … has voted in favor of utility companies on major issues, leaving hapless consumers to take the hindmost. The adversary staff provides an urgently important bulwark that serves to protect Georgians who expect their elected officials to act as their watchdogs, not lapdogs for the industries they regulate.” Due to the courage and tenacity of then-Commissioners Speir and Baker, Wise was unsuccessful.
Bullish on Bullying
Stan has fought to protect his “good ol’ boys” in an atmosphere of intimidation. Any interest group with a message other than the “company line” is quickly punished, either during Commission hearings or publicly. Wise calls everyone who disagrees with him a “liberal.”
Wise also attacked former Commissioner Bobby Baker, a lifetime Republican and consumer advocate famous for courageous scrutiny of utility rate hikes. Stan challenged Baker’s residency to delay the vote on limiting secret meetings. Stan’s challenge of Baker’s residency was unsuccessful and Stan was the the one vote in a 4-1 decision to limit secret meetings.
A more recent example of Wise’s bullying was his 2011-12 "typo" that would have conveniently forced his latest nemesis, Commissioner Tim Echols, into an early election. Wise, as PSC Chair in 2011, drew up new maps per Georgia redistricting law. The bills languished in legislative counsel until 2012. However, a change in the lengthy bill would require Tim Echols to run again in 2012 instead of 2016. Wise said it was just an accident when he got caught. Andre Walker of the Georgia Politics Unfiltered Blog caught the mistake and Echols was able to remove the “error.”
Later in the session, Wise took off the gloves and made a clear power grab to regain his PSC chairmanship (a position that, according to statute, rotates among Commissioners). Wise lobbied the General Assembly and was able to get the law changed.
In 2006, Stan employed bullying tactics against Angela Speir (now Senior Director at Georgia Watch) to preserve clandestine deal making between Commissioners and utility lobbyists. Unsuccessful, the Commission passed an ex-parte provision to prevent utility lobbyists from privately influencing Commissioners.
A No-Show with Arrogance
When an AJC article revealed that Wise won the no-show to work contest among Commissioners, he contended that he was out with voters. While as many as 10 percent of Georgians have been painfully and fearfully out of work, and the majority of those remaining live “paycheck to paycheck,” Stan could hardly bring himself to arrive at work before noon, if at all. He lives in Cobb County, only minutes from his Capitol Hill office!
No Friend of Free Enterprise
Stan’s allegiance to two regulated monopolies, Atlanta Gas Light and Georgia Power requires that he throw every other Georgia business under the bus. This includes industrial and commercial rate payers as well as all those who might like to participate in Georgia’s energy future by providing renewable energy. Wise helps crush businesses trying to compete with power monopolies. His protection of the monopolies has also kept prices inflated for all consumers.
Killing the Nuclear Renaissance
Pam Davidson is fond of saying, “Environmentalists can’t kill the nuclear renaissance, the only thing that can do that is cost overruns and a Commission that allows and rewards them.” While Stan supports GA Power’s nuclear construction, his efforts to pre-charge rate payers and put them on the hook for utility failures, while routinely rubber stamping imprudent expenditures, will hurt Georgia’s consumers and jeopardize the future of nuclear power.
No Friend of Consumers
Stan failed to protect ratepayers from by failing to adopt a RSM (risk sharing mechanism) which would have at least obligated the company to absorb some of the cost of overruns so that it wouldn’t all be borne by ratepayers. By failing to adopt the RSM that staff originally recommended, he placed the entire burden for cost overruns – which may total billions – squarely on the backs of ratepayers.
During the worst recession since the Great Depression, Stan Wise followed utility marching orders allowing pre-financing for the $14 billion project. The pre-payments will total $1.6 billion (over $1 million in profits to Southern Company shareholders) and a will rise to a $9 per month charge for the average residential bill. Worse yet, Mr. Wise has continued to turn his head while imminent signs of production delays and cost overruns abound. As recent as June 21, Wise voted to approve costs an independent monitor deemed imprudent.