CBS Atlanta News has learned Gov. Nathan Deal may have played a bigger role in the selection of former state Sen. Chip Rogers of Cherokee County for a new position with Georgia Public Broadcasting than his office acknowledged.
Through an open records request, CBS Atlanta obtained an email showing Deal called a meeting to discuss his plans for a new GPB economic development programming initiative. The meeting was held at the Capitol in early November with then Senate Majority Leader Rogers, Teya Ryan, president of GPB, and three of Deal's top staffers.
According to a GPB spokeswoman, this meeting was the first time Ryan learned of the governor's initiative.
Records don't reveal what was said in that meeting, but it clearly led to a new job for Rogers who suddenly stepped down from the Senate earlier this week to pursue the GPB position.
Bryan Long, of the progressive group Better Georgia, called Rogers' new job a taxpayer-funded parachute. He pointed out that Deal had cut GPB's budget 3 percent each year but now "magically found money to help out his buddy, Chip Rogers."
Deal's office has maintained that the governor played no significant role in selecting Rogers for the position. Deal's spokesman Brian Robinson told CBS Atlanta News in an email that "the governor knew Chip wanted to get back into broadcasting and he knew that Teya Ryan at GPB was looking to expand local programming. He suggested they talk. That was his only role."
Rogers has drawn criticism recently for hosting a meeting at the Capitol to discuss how President Barack Obama may be using mind control on citizens. Recent reports also revealed before taking office, Rogers held a job selling information to sports gamblers on television.
Rogers had been fighting to maintain his leadership within the Senate but relinquished his majority leader position days after meeting with Deal and Ryan about the new position at GPB.
Long said, "Rogers was looking for a safety net, and the governor gave it to him."
According to a news release from GPB, Rogers will spearhead a new programming initiative to promote economic development in Georgia.
The state provides about half of GPB's funding. GPB said Rogers' salary has not been worked out and no contract has been signed.
Deal's office would not release the cost of this new GPB initiative. Robinson said, "we haven't finalized the budget process."
Long said the governor needs to tell taxpayers how much he is paying Rogers.
Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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