AJC: A pariah no more, Senate rallies around McKoon

In most races, a pledge by 20 Republican senators to back a GOP colleague’s quest for higher office would not be a surprise. But Josh McKoon isn’t most politicians.

A year ago, a majority of McKoon’s fellow Republicans in the state Senate banded together to oust him from his leadership position of a key Senate committee. Now, even some who orchestrated that humiliation are backing his bid to oversee the state’s elections.

McKoon’s supporters say it’s a sign his campaign for Secretary of State has won over some of his most powerful critics. Cynics would say many of those colleagues are simply eager for him to leave the chamber. Either way, the marquee for McKoon’s Jan. 4 fundraiser sends a message.

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AG To Withdraw From Defense Of Secretary Of State In Ga. Election Integrity Case

Georgia’s Attorney General’s office will no longer represent the Secretary of State in a lawsuit over the integrity of Georgia’s elections system, multiple sources have confirmed to WABE.

The case has drawn national attention and recently revealed the erasure of an election server at Kennesaw State University’s Center for Election Systems days after the suit was filed.

A private law firm, Barnes Law Group, LLC, will step in to defend Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office. Former Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes leads that firm.

“Governor Barnes and I don’t see eye to eye on everything, but he will be a zealous advocate for the State Election Board and the Secretary of State to show that these claims are baseless. We look forward to working with him as we continue to provide secure elections in Georgia,” said Kemp in a prepared statement.

The Attorney General’s office declined to comment for this story.

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Georgia election server wiped days after lawsuit

Days after activists filed a lawsuit over the security of Georgia's election systems, the university housing the servers at the center of the case wiped them of all data.

The servers had been in the possession of the Center for Elections Systems (CES) at Kennesaw State University, which had been contracted to maintain Georgia's election systems. The state ended its relationship with Kennesaw State in July. 

According to emails retrieved by one of the plaintiffs in that case through an open records request and provided to The Hill, information technology (IT) staff first confirmed deleting files from the system on July 7 — four days after the suit was filed. 

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Incompetence or a Cover-Up?

On July 3, state voters and a good-government group filed a lawsuit alleging that Georgia officials ignored warnings that the state’s electoral system was extremely susceptible to hacking.

On July 4, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office was alerted about the lawsuit by the press and declined to comment. It received a copy of the suit on July 6.

And on July 7, Georgia officials deleted the state’s election data, which would have likely been critical evidence in that lawsuit, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

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Numbers don’t add up: Georgia says it has double the DACA recipients that fed statistics state

How many illegal aliens has former President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) provided amnesty? That’s a question that may need some closer review.

A United States Citizenship and Immigration Services report (page 6) dated September 4 (the day before President Trump announced a pending end to the program) on the numbers of illegal aliens with DACA status in each state does not match with the number of DACA recipients to whom Georgia says it has issued a drivers license.

USCIS has the national total number of DACA recipients at 689,800, with 21,600 of these victims of borders living in Georgia. But a recent response letter from Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal’s Commissioner of the Department of Driver Services (DDS — our DMV) to Georgia state Sen. Josh McKoon puts the number of drivers licenses and official state ID cards issued to DACA recipients at 48,935 — more than twice as many as the feds say live in the Peach State. And that was as of August 8.

DDS says it has has also issued some 8,700 official photo ID cards to those registered in DACA. Here in Georgia, an individual can obtain both the drivers license and ID Card.

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McKoon Op-Ed: Add Transparency And Time To Conference Committee Process

Does anyone remember the commercial in the 80’s – “Time to make the Donuts?”

Day after day, the same man does the same job, over and over and over again.  After being in Georgia’s General Assembly for the past three sessions, sadly, I can relate.  Unfortunately, in our case, we are not dealing with donuts.

Otto von Bismarck once famously compared legislating to sausage making.   While we can never entirely get away from some of the “sausage making”, there are several ways that the legislative process in our General Assembly can be improved.

As a State Senator, I have found many things wrong with our system of crafting public policy during my time in the legislature.  However, I find that the single greatest obstacle to a transparent legislative process is the way Conference Committee Reports are handled.  For those of you not informed on the Conference Committee process, it goes something like this- If the House and Senate cannot agree on a bill then leadership appoints a Conference Committee (usually made up of 3 people from each chamber) to meet, in hopes that a compromise can be made.  Once an agreement is met, the conferees present a report to all members of the assembly for review.

While Conference Committees are a great way to compromise, it is also a great way to largely impact legislation without members of the General Assembly or the public even realizing it.  Many are surprised to learn that, at times, we are only given 60 minutes to read, understand and decide how to vote on a piece of legislation once the report hits our desks.  If members are only given 60 minutes, in certain circumstances, before voting on the issue-  imagine the opportunity, or lack thereof, for the public to be heard.  Not to mention, many times, the bill that was originally vetted through the “process” may be completely different in the final draft.  For example, one Conference Report we received addressing fishing licenses included a provision that made a significant change to Georgia’s ethics law.  And while I do enjoy fishing, I don’t see how it is any relation to ethics.

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