A state lawmaker suggested that one of his former colleagues at the Capitol was hired at his new job at Georgia Public Broadcasting due to cronyism.
State Sen. Steve Gooch said that Gov. Nathan Deal used his influence to get Chip Rogers, the former Georgia Senate majority leader, a job at GPB.
"As bad as it was, the way it happened, it does smack of cronyism. And it wasn't a smart move on his part," Gooch said in a recent telephone conversation with Rob Mishler, a voter in Gooch's district and a state party committeeman for the Democratic party.
Gooch said Rogers was hired because of his political contacts, not his qualifications.
"He took the job with the governor's, you know, influence there on that Georgia Public Broadcasting," Gooch said.
GPB last fall hired Rogers as executive producer of job creation.
The broadcaster is paying Rogers $150,000 a year, which raised the ire of some taxpayers.
Mishler decided to call Gooch to express his anger and ask Gooch to convince the governor to use his influence to force Rogers from the job.
Mishler recorded the conversation and Better Georgia, a progressive watchdog group, posted the recording on its website.
"Get some of your Republican cohorts, or fellow senators and talk to Nathan Deal. Say that this is making us look bad," Mishler said.
Gooch, who said he was unaware he was being recorded, said he would not want to risk publicly embarrassing the governor out of fear of retaliation.
"We can show our displeasure by it but if we do it in a disrespectful way then he can come back on us in other ways and punish us or put us in a bad position in our district," Gooch said.
CBS Atlanta spoke with Gooch in person on Wednesday and asked why he feared retribution. Gooch responded, "I don't fear retribution from the governor."
Gooch also backed off some of the other statements he made in the recording.
When asked if the governor showed the tendency to retaliate if he hears a lawmaker say something that is potentially embarrassing, Gooch answered, "I haven't seen that."
Gooch, a Republican, said Mishler, a Democrat, was playing dirty politics.
"It's unfortunate the democrats have made a political (game) out of this," Gooch said.
Mishler insisted he would have done the same thing if the players involved were Democrats.
CBS Atlanta called the governor's office. They did not respond to our calls.
Copyright 2013 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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