A Georgia state senator ran and hid from a reporter when asked about a series of email responses dismissing thousands of voters’ concerns regarding a former colleague’s controversial hiring at the state public broadcasting company.
WSB-TV released footage on Monday of state Sen. Bill Heath (R) ducking down a hallway and hiding behind an office printer to avoid questions over an email response to an online petition protesting ex-state Sen. Chip Rogers’ (R) new position at Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB).
Better Georgia, the progressive group behind the petition, provided The Raw Story with a copy of Heath’s automated response on Tuesday. The group’s executive director, Bryan Long, said his first reaction to WSB’s story was to laugh, but that Heath’s response struck him as sad.
“He’s basically telling Georgia taxpayers that he doesn’t care about what they say,” Long said of Heath.
While residents of his district are invited to call him, Heath’s email said, emails concerning Rogers’ hiring would continue to get an automated response, saying Better Georgia’s efforts “probably have the same effect with other legislators as it does with me, that is to view the emails as annoying, filter them out and credit Better Georgia as an irresponsible organization rather than considering them as having some benefit.”
Heath’s statement also presumes people emailing him had been “conned” into signing the petition, which Long said had garnered just over 4,000 signatures as of Tuesday morning.
Criticism has swirled around Rogers, who once chaired a caucus addressing an alleged United Nations plot to implement mind-control, since he was hired at GPB late last year, with several listeners cancelling their donations and a GPB senior producer quitting the company, calling the move “unconscionable.”
Last month, Gov. Nathan Deal (R) denied giving Rogers the $150,000 position at GPB as a way to get him out of the state legislature.
Long said the responses by both Deal and Heath to the controversy also fit in with what he called a “culture of complacency” practiced by state lawmakers, one that placed them out of step with voters.
“I’ve never seen people so upset over a political appointment here, and Governor Deal has had a lot of bad political appointments,” he said. “It’s politically toxic for the governor, but he’s standing by Chip Rogers.”
Watch WSB’s attempt to get Heath to address the criticism over Rogers’ public broadcasting job, aired Monday, below.