Two Republican state lawmakers — Sen. Bill Heath of Bremen and Rep. Susan Holmes of Monticello — signed a letter Wednesday, June 13, asking for an investigation into Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. The letter references a recording of Cagle and former gubernatorial candidate Clay Tippins discussing a bill, where Cagle is heard saying he pushed the legislation for political reasons.
Cagle is in a Republican governor primary runoff with Secretary of State Brian Kemp.
U.S. Attorney BJay Pak, FBI Special Agent in Charge Murang Pak and Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard are addressed in the letter.
The letter references media reports in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about Cagle’s conversation with Tippins on a bill raising the cap on tax credits for donations to private schools. According to the recording, Cagle feared a group was about to put $3 million into former state Sen. Hunter Hill’s campaign.
Citing media reports, Sen. Lindsey Tippins, R-Marietta, said Cagle “demanded passage of another piece of legislation to secure millions in funding” from the Walton Foundation, according to the letter.
“These two press reports provide compelling evidence of a direct quid pro quo offered by Cagle to trade legislative action for campaign funding,” according to the letter.
Cagle’s campaign manager emailed a response to The Times regarding the letter, claiming the Kemp campaign used “irrelevant cranks to do crazy stuff on his campaign’s behalf.”
“No one capable of shame would put their names on such nonsense — and any lawyer who saw this letter would laugh these poor, manipulated souls out of the building. But if you take their charge at face value, then they need to be arrested for sending out a purely political letter for the Kemp campaign on what appears to be official state letterhead. Where’s the quid pro quo? Casey didn’t get any money from these groups mentioned. Kemp should apologize to these people for using them and embarrassing them in public,” Scott Binkley wrote in an email.
Heath and Holmes did not return emailed requests for comment after business hours Thursday regarding Binkley’s comment.
Binkley added that Cagle “passed strong school choice legislation because he believes in it and it’s great policy that helps Georgia families.”
“What he said on the tape shows only that he did what he had to do to get it done — over the objections of a committee chairman.”
In the recording, Cagle said the bill was “bad” in “a thousand different ways.”
Kemp said he did not want to weigh in on the requested Cagle investigation just yet. He added that he believes Cagle has “some questions to answer, and it needs to be looked into.”
The questions listed in the letter include if Cagle solicited campaign contributions in exchange for any legislation, if Cagle threatened to kill legislation if any group supported Hill and if any other legislation in the 2018 legislative session was “rigged to harm his political opponents, benefit himself or secure campaign contributions.”
“These questions need to be asked by law enforcement, because Cagle has demonstrated repeatedly, notably on the audio recording provided by Clay Tippins that he will lie with a straight face to the media and voters,” according to the letter.
Heath told The Times Thursday “this story has a resonance of truth that I recognize.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office and Fulton County District Attorney’s Office public affairs director Chris Hopper said they have not received the letter.
“If and when we do, of course we will evaluate it and make a decision in time,” Hopper said.