ATLANTA - There are new calls for a criminal investigation into remarks made by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.
Cagle is in the middle of a runoff election with fellow Republican candidate Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp for the Republican nomination in Georgia’s governor’s race.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher, along with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, first reported that a former rival recorded Cagle talking about supporting a bad education bill to keep another candidate from getting millions of dollars in campaign contributions.
“Is it bad public policy? Between you and me, it is. And I can tell you how it is, a thousand different ways,” Cagle said on the recording.
The Republican front-runner was taped by Clay Tippins, who finished fourth in April’s primary.
Tippins said he recorded the conversation to show that Cagle is part of a deeply flawed system. Cagle said they had a candid political conversation -- nothing more.
“Did your action put you in legal jeopardy?” Belcher asked Cagle in one-on-one interview last week.
“None whatsoever. I did exactly what I said I was going to do,” Cagle said.
Cagle said he got no money from the Walton Family Foundation, the group in question. He said the bill was the best he could get.
“Just like President Trump didn't get everything he wanted on the budget deal or the tax cut, it was certainly for the greater good,” Cagle said.
Former Fulton County prosecutor Charlie Bailey is the Democratic nominee for state attorney general.
Bailey wants an investigation.
“Once we look into it, we'll know further what, if any, of the communications were between Lt. Gov. Cagle and the Walton Foundation or their intermediaries,” Bailey told Belcher. “We'll know more about what a quid-pro-quo might have been.”
On Wednesday, two Republican state legislators, both supporters of Cagle's opponent Brian Kemp, wrote the U.S. attorney and the FBI, asking them to investigate the taped conversation.
Neither office has responded.
“I think a prosecutor should look very carefully and do some investigating,” former U.S. Attorney Bob Barr told Belcher.
Barr, another Kemp supporter, said it's not enough for Cagle to say he received no financial support as a result of the charter school bill he backed.
“Making a statement that, ‘Well, nothing really happened here, so y'all go home and forget about it,’ certainly should not be the end of the matter,” Barr said.
Cagle's campaign manager Scott Binkley called the statements from Barr and Bailey “transparently political.”
Binkley added that “any objective prosecutor would laugh these claims out of the building. What Casey Cagle said on the tape shows only that he did what he had to do to get it -- the charter school bill -- done."
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