Gregory, Reeves square off in scathing forum
by Jon Gillooly
May 12, 2014 04:00 AM | 6918 views | 8 8 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Charles Gregory
Charles Gregory
Bert Reeves
Bert Reeves
KENNESAW — State Rep. Charles Gregory (R-Kennesaw) and challenger Bert Reeves, a Marietta attorney, revealed stark differences between each other during a forum last week conducted by the Kennesaw Business Association.

Moderator Pete Combs of WSB Radio asked Gregory about his critical comments on the county’s partnership with the Atlanta Braves to build a new $672 million stadium near Cumberland Mall.

Combs reminded the audience Gregory called the use of such a public-private financing arrangement “theft, where a large corporation and some public officials have conspired to forcibly take money without consent from the electorate and then spend it on a private business venture.”

Combs asked Gregory what he intended to do to change the county’s arrangement with the Braves if re-elected.

Gregory: Braves deal ‘legal plunder, corporate welfare’

Gregory said in a free market, everyone votes on whether a product or service is useful every time they make a purchase.

“So what I would say to the Atlanta Braves is, ‘We would love to have you. You, just like any other business, you take out your loan. You build your stadium. You buy your land. You make your investment. You take the risk, and you keep all the profits,’” Gregory said. “We don’t need to be putting or socializing the risk on the backs of taxpayers. It really is legal plunder, corporate welfare, corporatism, whatever you want to call it. The taxpayers don’t need to fund private business.”

Gregory said he would love to have a water park in his backyard, but understands the government is not going to give him the money to build one.

Combs turned to Reeves to comment on the question.

“One of the key differences between Mr. Gregory and myself is his absolute point of view about the complete exclusion of government involved in private enterprise,” Reeves said. “He and I disagree, and I believe there are certain partnerships that certainly provide economic growth and jobs, and that’s what I’m all about.”

Combs asked Reeves about statements Reeves made on his website, referring to the district as “devoid of leadership,” and that Gregory has “done nothing but let us down since his election, and he has embarrassed us through his actions.”

Said Combs: “Sir, these are damning accusations, and yet you fail in your website to cite specifics.”

Combs asked Reeves to name examples for the audience and share why he was the better candidate.

The reason voters should oust Gregory and elect him, Reeves said, is he will represent the people “and not an ideology that’s out of touch with 99 percent of the people.”

The district is full of families and students preparing for college and seniors who have their own particular needs, Reeves said.

“Mr. Gregory has taken his agenda down to the Capitol and voted against time after time after time legislation that is to benefit the people in this district and what they need,” Reeves said. “I know this community. I understand this community and what it means. And we don’t need a fringe, extreme agenda. We need what’s best for our families.”

Following the Constitution ‘extreme’?

Combs asked Gregory to respond.

“I’m not sure when following the Constitution became extreme,” Gregory said, a statement that sparked cheers and applause from the audience.

In his closing remarks, Gregory called for eliminating state, corporate and individual income taxes, lowering or repealing property taxes and instituting a single, low, flat consumption tax. He also called for fighting Obamacare and opposing unions.

“Jobs are a natural byproduct of the free market, and the absence of government interference and prosperity follows when individuals and private businesses are allowed to keep and reinvest the fruits of their labor,” he said.

Gregory said the state shouldn’t be in the business of picking winners and losers.

“Socialist policies of economic intervention distort the market forces of supply and demand and interfere with the price signals, leading to mal-investment with all sorts of disastrous consequences,” Gregory said. “Businesses’ economic success or failure should be determined by consumers, not political connections. For ultimately, it’s economic liberty that is the key to economic prosperity.”

Reeves says Gregory is an absent legislator

Reeves was given the last word while on stage, and launched into a blistering attack of Gregory.

“My opponent has had two years to be our representative, and he squandered that opportunity by focusing on making enemies at the Capitol instead of actually representing his constituents,” Reeves said. “He’s done nothing for our community except embarrass us.”

Reeves said Gregory was the only legislator in Georgia to vote against “critical issues like elder abuse and the HOPE scholarship.”

Reeves said Gregory has done nothing to grow the economy.

“Instead of working on economic solutions with his colleagues, he’s spent his time focused on radical things, like Georgia having its own currency,” Reeves said.

Reeves called Gregory an “absent legislator,” and “someone who is absent from our community.”

“When have you ever seen him out? When have you seen him in the trenches, serving our community? He’s out of touch with our community,” Reeves said.

By comparison, Reeves said he’s heavily involved in the community, sitting on various nonprofit boards from the Strand Theatre to Reconnecting Families. Reeves said he’s been endorsed by Sheriff Neil Warren and District Attorney Vic Reynolds.

The MDJ followed up with Gregory after the forum to ask about Reeves’ final allegations.

Gregory said when the elder abuse bill came through the House the first time, he voted in favor of it.

But on the last day of the session, Gregory said, the Senate revised it with language “that was a violation of our Fifth Amendment rights to attorney-client privilege, and I voted against it. These are the kind of backroom deals that happen at the Capitol that are destructive to the rights of all Georgians.”

As for voting against HOPE legislation, Gregory said the bill lowered the grade point average requirement from 3.0 to 2.0, something he called a bad precedent because it’s not a good idea to lower education standards.

In addition, lowering the GPA to obtain HOPE funding does nothing to address the rising costs of higher education in Georgia, but lowers the value of a college degree, he said.

“The more the government pumps into subsidizing institutions through federal student loans and programs like HOPE, the more prices continue to skyrocket for everyone,” Gregory said. “In the long run, this doesn’t benefit parents and students; it benefits institutions and politicians.”

There was a time not so long ago when Americans could work their way through college, Gregory said.

“Now, our young people are graduating saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan and credit card debt due to the inflated cost of a college education — all thanks to government intervention,” he said. “And they still can’t find jobs. We should be looking at free-market principles to lower the overall cost of education and to restore value to a college degree.”

Ideological purist or a mainstream Republican?

Kerwin Swint, a political science professor at Kennesaw State University, said in some ways, the race between Gregory and Reeves is an example at the state level of the battle over who controls the Republican Party at the national level.

“It’s pretty consistent with a lot of the power plays we’re seeing between what we call ‘tea party Republicans,’ but it can be sort of a broad label,” Swint said. “Gregory is particularly rigid, and what I mean is there are some tea party Republicans who aren’t as ideological or rigid as he seems to be.”

Swint said Gregory is not popular with his colleagues in the Georgia House under the leadership of Speaker David Ralston.

“He’s considered to be by some an extremist, in it for purely ideological — almost narrow ideological — reasons without a lot of flexibility or thought into his positions, and I think he fits in pretty well with a lot of the Ron Paul, libertarian, hard-right-wing-tea-party Republicans we’re seeing these days,” Swint said. “Reeves, I know less about, but from what I can tell, he’s a pretty mainstream, conservative Republican — very much in keeping with the state house these days.”

Whether a mainstream Republican or a purist appeals to voters in District 34 will be determined May 20. Gregory ousted state Rep. Judy Manning (R-Marietta) two years ago in a surprise upset.

“Judy Manning was certainly not a tea party Republican,” Swint said. “She was considered by many when she was in office to be more moderate if anything, representing that district. I would suspect a lot of the business types in that district — a lot of the ones concerned about economic growth and commercial enterprises — probably would fall more to Reeves. And of course the ideological purists would stay with Gregory.”

Swint said Gregory reminds him of the late state Rep. Bobby Franklin, a Republican who represented northeast Cobb before he died of a heart attack in 2011.

Like Gregory, Franklin wasn’t afraid to challenge the Republican House leadership and was a critic of Speaker Ralston.

“Franklin kept getting re-elected and re-elected and re-elected, you know, so it just depends on the makeup of that district and who really wants to come out and vote,” Swint said.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Kennesaw Resident
May 15, 2014
Charles Gregory knocked on my door on a Sunday afternoon to ask for my vote. He will get it.

Just Sayin'....
May 12, 2014
Not a fan of Mr. Reeves. That being said, Mr. Gregory is viewed as a wing nut by most of the folks he has come into contact with in the legislature. People shrug him off, ignore him, mock him and go to great lengths to avoid him. This is NOT a situation that is advantageous for the people he represents. Neither are good choices, but right now we basically have no representation as long as we have Mr. Gregory there.
Young Voter
May 13, 2014
That may be how he is viewed, but change is hard and change in politics is exponentially harder. What Mr. Gregory seems to have is a well thought out reason for the decisions he makes. Whether it be last minute changes to legislation, or calling for proper due diligence with respect to the Braves project, his decisions are thorough and grounded in what he believes. (Those beliefs being made quite public on his website and I would like to think a big part of the reason he won in the first place) We should not discard someone for a dissenting opinion specifically because they have not gained favor in their first term. I think/hope that once these long time incumbents realize Mr. Gregory is here to stay they will be less dismissive.
May 12, 2014
RE: Bert Reeves said “And we don’t need a fringe, extreme agenda” --

What Reeves was really telling us is: “Me and my crony friends at the chamber of commerce are NOT going to let taxpayer funding of pet private projects be stopped by some guy who understands the constitution of the United States and knows that socialism is a bad thing even when it is the Chamber of Commerce cronies who are playing the part of the “Welfare Queen”.

It’s always interesting how the chamber of commerce picks never talk about freedom, fiscally responsible government, limited government or individual rights.

But, Charles Gregory sure does. If that is an extreme, fringe agenda...sign me up!

We need more men like Charles Gregory in our State House.

Cobb Watcher
May 12, 2014
First let me say I do not vote in this district, but I do follow government and politics in all of my county, Cobb. Somewhere between Gregory & Reeves might be the ideal candidate. Gregory is too idealistic/rigid and Reeves is too close to mainstream Republicans. There needs to compromises, but the Repubs & Dems are set in their ways and when there is a compromise, it is give me stuff NOT needed in my district and we will give your stuff NOT needed in your district. Wasteful spending & decisions on both sides. Oh, and while we are at it, throw in something that will help my reelection and my family.

The large businesses, the CC Chamber of Commerce, the politicians and the wealthy in Cobb (and everywhere else) run the show.

Concerned Citizen in his/her comments definitely has Braves deal was sealed. This deal is the perfect example of the wealthy & powerful running over the middle class AND the poor.

And my message to these "rulers" over us- You are destroying us and I AM FED UP!
No fan but really?
May 12, 2014
Why does Mr. Reeves believe that he has any creditability?

1) First, he still owns his home in his old district and is only renting a house to give him the residency needed to run in our district.

2) He works for one for one of the largest lobbying groups in Marietta. We do not need a special interest lawyer pretending to represent the residents.

3) So you believe that the Cobb delegation is devoid of leadership???..... sounds like you may not have to many friends (win or lose).

This play boy needs to find another tune to sing along with.
Troy Hagemans
May 12, 2014
Oh goodness. Reeves comments are right in line with the big business wing of the Republican party. Screw conservatism! This guy will offer nothing but a yes vote for the corrupt cronies up at the Capitol. I'd rather have someone who's a bit different than the rest. Vote Gregory on May 20th.
Concerned Citizen
May 12, 2014
Regarding Gregory's stand on the Braves, as a citizen I believe Cobb County taxpayers should demand answers to these questions: 1) What is the maximum debt ceiling on the unknown potential cost overruns and who is responsible and how much would Cobb taxpayers pay?; 2) The consequences of raising the Chattahoochee flood-plain, property damage and environmental issues?; 3) Cost of the pipeline and gas lines relocation and who pays?; 4) Timeline for building more interstate lanes and highways to address the unplanned high volume traffic overload? 5) And last but not least, it’s unfair to strap the people of Cobb with a $300 million private enterprise debt, while all of the surrounding Metro-area counties will be using the facility and not sharing in the cost. Why not?
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