GOP lawmaker says Nathan Deal’s top aide ‘threatened’ him

Gov. Nathan Deal's chief of staff Chris Riley. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Gov. Nathan Deal’s chief of staff Chris Riley. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

A freshman Republican lawmaker said Gov. Nathan Deal’s top aide warned him he would slash funding to his north Georgia district after he was the sole legislator in the House to vote against the governor’s budget proposal.

State Rep. Matt Gurtler said Deal chief of staff Chris Riley “threatened” him at a Jan. 31 breakfast for first-term lawmakers at the Governor’s Mansion after he told Riley he voted against the spending plan because he opposed subsidies and government interference in the free market.

Gurtler said Riley twice told him: “If you believe that then I will cut all funding to your district.” He said the exchange took place in front of more than a dozen other freshmen lawmakers.

“I am appalled by Mr. Riley’s actions of intimidation and bullying tactics of an elected official,” he said. “His actions were wrong and unethical, and this type of behavior goes against our system of separation of powers.”

State Rep. Matt Gurtler.

State Rep. Matt Gurtler.

Riley, a fierce defender of Deal who has worked for him more than half his life, said he never threatened Gurtler but instead asked him why he voted against funding for his district. He said he specifically challenged Gurtler on his refusal to support 20 percent pay hikes for state law enforcement officers in the spending plan he voted against.

“If he felt threatened by what I asked him and my defense of the governor’s position,” Riley said, “we probably have bigger issues to address than separation of powers.”

Gurtler, a homebuilder from the north Georgia town of Tiger, was a legislative aide for Republican state Rep. Stephen Allison before running for his seat when he decided against a re-election bid.

He defeated a Republican rival in a 2016 runoff to represent the district – a mountainous swath of Georgia’s northeast corner – on a tea party-esque platform with pledges to resist government interference and repeal taxes.

In his short time at the statehouse, Gurtler has emerged as a reliable “no” vote on many measures, including the hospital “provider fee” to shore up Medicaid funding that critics derided as a tax hike and an insurance bill that passed the chamber 172-1.

He has also introduced legislation that would make it legal for most Georgians to carry a firearm without a license, and expand the places where they are permitted to bring weapons.

But it was his Jan. 26 vote against the midyear spending plan – which passed the House by a 173-1 vote – that raised the ire of Deal’s office and other Republican leaders. Gurtler said he took Riley’s words as an affront to his district.

“Not only did Mr. Riley threaten me, he threatened my entire constituency, some 50,000 plus Georgians in the 8th District,” said Gurtler.

State Sen. Josh McKoon, a Columbus Republican who has also infuriated Deal’s office, defended Gurtler in the state Senate on Tuesday. He said Gurtler was victim to a “sick and twisted” culture at the Capitol. McKoon, too, has been on the wrong end of a funding fight with Deal’s office.

The governor has largely had warm relations with the legislative branch since his 2010 election, though his vetoes of controversial measures last year could strain those ties.

His spokeswoman Jen Talaber Ryan said Deal’s office has long prided itself on its ability to work with legislators who disagree with him.

“If meaningful discussions on important issues can’t be had,” she said, “then why are we here?”

Reader Comments 1

50 comments
Dave Cartwright
Dave Cartwright

So, he threatened Gurtler by offering to implement Gurtler's beliefs? That tells you all you need to know about that kind of "conservativism". It's a threat to all of us.

Bruce Perry Johnson
Bruce Perry Johnson

I thought New Jersey had cornered the market on this brand of gubernatorial corruption.

Greg Pearson
Greg Pearson

Governors ALWAYS work like this. The only way Roy Barnes was able to muster enough votes to change the state flag was because he promised tens of millions of dollars in state funds for projects in districts if you voted his way or threatened to without funds if you opposed him. It's terrible the way our money is used to further someone else's goals. Never trust politicians.

Kevin Kitchen
Kevin Kitchen

That's the way the game works. You support me, I support you. Republicans understand how to play the game. Democrats used to know how to.play the game (LBJ, Richard J Daley ).

Donald Bentley
Donald Bentley

Drain the swamp of these IMPOSTORS pretending to be government officials!!! "The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times, and under all circumstances. No doctrine, involving more pernicious consequences, was ever invented by the wit of man than that any of its provisions can be suspended during any of the great emergencies of government." ~ Ex parte Milligan, 71 U.S. 2 (1866). Truth be known none of them represents the government nor works for the government lawfully because they have ALL violated their oath of office to uphold and support the constitution! They have said themselves 90% of what they do every day is unconstitutional. All you have to do is look at bills, agreements, treaties they have signed or unconstitutional laws they have enforced. So we have NO one in office who has ANY authority to do anything. Not the police, not the judges not any government officials. And this is what the law declares! Since their signature is as worthless as a con man trying to sell your house out from under you because they did not represent the government, everything they have signed going back decades is null and void lawfully. They don't tell you this because they can not lawfully do what they are doing and they are all impostors claiming to hold some office they can not by law be holding. THEY ARE CRIMINALS! THEY ARE INVOLVED IN ORGANIZED CRIME! Treason and fraud being the least of it. They do not represent the government or the people. They can not hold any office. They are impostors claiming to be a government official and to have some authority they can not lawfully have. Any court, government or government officer who acts in violation of, in opposition or contradiction to the Constitution, by his, or her, own actions, commits treason and invokes the self-executing Sections 3 and 4 of the 14th Amendment and vacates his, or her, office. ” An officer who acts in violation of the constitution ceases to represent the government”. Brookfield Const. Co. v. Stewart, 284 F. Supp.94. AM14.3/HO, IR No person shall hold office if he rebels against or violates the U.S. Constitution (treason). “Anyone entering into an arrangement with the government takes the risk of having accurately ascertained that he who purports to act for the government stays within the bounds of his authority, even though the agent himself may be unaware of limitations upon his authority.” The United States Supreme Court, Federal Crop Ins. Corp, v. Merrill, 332 US 380-388 L1947) Cooper v. Aaron, By Chief Justice Earl Warren No state, legislator, executive or judicial officer can “War” against (or test the limitations of) the Constitution without violating their undertaking to support it (Breach of Oath/Contract, Treason??). The Constitution created a government dedicated to equal justice under law. The Fourteenth Amendment embodied and emphasized that ideal…no State shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. Our constitutional ideal of equal justice under law is thus made a living truth. (Book, Our Nation’s Archive © 1999 pg 701) AM14.3/RD Congress shall impeach anyone who rebels against or violates the U.S. Constitution. “All laws, rules and practices which are repugnant to the Constitution are null and void... ...if any statement within any law which is passed is unconstitutional, the whole law is unconstitutional.” Marbury v. Madison, 5thU.S. 2 Cranch 137, 180. “ Where rights secured by the Constitution are involved, there can be no rule-making or legislation which would abrogate them.” Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 491. “ ...statutes which would deprive a citizen of the rights of person or property without a regular trial, according to the course and usage of common law, would not be the law of the land.” Hoke v. Henderson,15 N.C.15, 25 AM Dec. 677. “State officers may be held personally liable for damages based upon actions taken in their official capacities.” Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21 (1991). The Oath of office is a quid pro quo contract cf [U.S. Const. Art. 6, Clauses 2 and 3, Davis Vs. Lawyers Surety Corporation., 459 S.W. 2nd. 655, 657., Tex. Civ. App.] in which clerks, officials, or officers of the government pledge to perform (Support and uphold the United States and state Constitutions) in return for substance (wages, perks, benefits). Proponents are subjected to the penalties and remedies for Breach of Contract, Conspiracy cf [Title 18 U.S.C., Sections 241, 242]. Treason under the Constitution at Article 3, Section 3., and Intrinsic Fraud cf [Auerbach v Samuels, 10 Utah 2nd. 152, 349 P. 2nd. 1112,1114. Alleghany Corp v Kirby., D.C.N.Y. 218 F. Supp. 164, 183., and Keeton Packing Co. v State., 437 S.W. 20, 28]. Refusing to live by their oath places them in direct violation of their oath, in every case. Violating their oath is not just cause for immediate dismissal and removal from office, it is a federal crime. Federal law regulating oath of office by government officials is divided into four parts along with an executive order which further defines the law for purposes of enforcement. 5 U.S.C. 3331, provides the text of the actual oath of office members of Congress are required to take before assuming office. 5 U.S.C. 3333 requires members of Congress sign an affidavit that they have taken the oath of office required by 5 U.S.C. 3331 and have not or will not violate that oath of office during their tenure of office as defined by the third part of the law, 5 U.S.C. 7311 which explicitly makes it a federal criminal offense (and a violation of oath of office) for anyone employed in the United States Government (including members of Congress) to “advocate the overthrow of our constitutional form of government”

Steven Adams
Steven Adams

Aweeee. Did somebody's feelings get hurt? Go cry to mommy. Big baby

Chris G. Paulk
Chris G. Paulk

Please convince me that our state and federal governments aren't like House of Cards. Ready, go.

Carla Scarborough
Carla Scarborough

Then he should be fired it's time for governments to stop being trampled on and standup for Americans the reason they are there

Janice Maddox
Janice Maddox

The entire GOP is out of control and they have to go. I just hope Americans' eyes have been opened and see what the rest of us have known all along. They are tearing down every fabric of democracy bit by bit. If we don't stop this now, it will be too late.

Jack Foster
Jack Foster

These were sleazy democrates that did this

Jack Foster
Jack Foster

It was not a GOP candidate that did this it was a sleazy democrat

Janice Maddox
Janice Maddox

It was one republican threatening another republican. How the hell do you reason it was a democrat? It doesn't matter anyway because it's unethical, at the very least, to threaten anyone who disagrees with the governor. It may not look like it in Georgia but this is still a democracy and dissenting opinions are encouraged in a free society.

Sandra Dale Sikes
Sandra Dale Sikes

I don't doubt it. The Federal government is corrupt, politicians become multi-millionaires while "serving the public" ...... state governments can have the same problems.....

Hank Quinn
Hank Quinn

Of course! The GOP keeps the "lawmakers" (LOL!) in line. Bust those knee caps if they get out of line.

Brian J. Huff
Brian J. Huff

Suck it up. There was no "Threat". Simply the AjC trying to lure readers they have already lost,

Rhonda Chambers
Rhonda Chambers

But you're here, they're not worried because their nay sayers hang on like a loose tooth.

Emily Rae Smith
Emily Rae Smith

That's cool, but this is an AJC funded blog page. I guess going out of my way to read and reply to comments on an article I didn't read is out of my wheelhouse.

Emily Rae Smith
Emily Rae Smith

I figured you knew what advertisements are. Indirectly, you are supporting them. Every time you open an AJC article, you are paying their bills.

Emily Rae Smith
Emily Rae Smith

Interesting. I guess i figured you had read the article if you commented on it.

Linda Morgan
Linda Morgan

Has this become our government? If so I'm ashamed.

Liz Dadin
Liz Dadin

That is nothing less than Black Mail. To much of this crap going on in politics today. It needs to end.

Penny Jones Smith
Penny Jones Smith

Nathan Deal sold his sold to the devil when he voted on the religious bill. That's not the name but that's what it had to do with. Have no respect.

Bonnie Martin
Bonnie Martin

Most citizens did not want RFRA, so he did the right thing.

Kevin Kitchen
Kevin Kitchen

It's not "dirty" to support your friends and punish your enemies. That's the way the world works.

Brandy Tucker Lmt
Brandy Tucker Lmt

It's not called the dirty south for nothin'. Not because "it's the way the world works." Your confusing the good ol boy system with real politics. Huuuge difference.

Jack Foster
Jack Foster

this has been going on a long time they told my wife she would be fired for not donating to a certain person and she was fired because I would not contribute to his campaign fund

Jack Foster
Jack Foster

We were young at the time didn't know that we had a recourse we could take

Michelle Beasley
Michelle Beasley

TIME FOR DEMOCRATS TO TAKE BACK THE GOVENOR OF GEORGIA. WE WILL NOT STAND FOR TRUMP TACTICS OF BULLYING AND INTIMADITION. PERIOD!

Lola Shireman
Lola Shireman

Michelle Beasley, I am a Republican and I do not condone bullying, threatening or intimidation from one party to another. Freedom to choose is what makes us a free country. There are flaws in both parties. However, they will never work through their problems because they refuse to work together for the common good of our nation!!

Constance Rutledge
Constance Rutledge

Lola Shireman name just one republican bill that's favored citizens over corporate interests in the last 10+ years. There's none. Republican politicians work for the corporations that line their pockets and not for the citizens who elect them. Anyone can see this simply by looking at republican bills and votes. It's not rocket science. Our republican congress blocked every veterans and jobs bill for 6 years and McConnell has openly bragged about it. Washington republicans are currently trying to gut social security and Medicare. Why anyone still votes against their own best interests by voting republican is beyond me.

Stephan Chass Brodie
Stephan Chass Brodie

Last 8 years was democrat Constance Rutledge if your talking about a state level sorry your voting in republicans people who work like democrats

Constance Rutledge
Constance Rutledge

Stephan Chass Brodie what ?? Republicans have been in control of congress

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  1. […] State Rep. who dared vote against Gov. Deal’s budget was told by Deal’s office that they would punish him by cutting off state funding from his district. […]

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