ATLANTA — State Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers announced Tuesday, Dec. 4, he was stepping down from his seat in the Senate to take a job with Georgia Public Broadcasting.
It was a quick exit by one of the most politically powerful men in the state. Although Rogers had just won re-election to the Senate in November, by December he was out.
He had already announced that he would not seek re-election as majority leader, saying he wanted “to spend more time with his family” – the time-honored excuse for being forced out.
Now, according to some political observers, he is apparently being bought off by Gov. Nathan Deal with a vague newly designed executive post at Georgia Public Broadcasting.
In a press release by Rogers, he says he is being given the job for his “experience in broadcasting.” He was a part-owner of a small Cartersville radio station and its on-air announcer. He was also an on-air tout for football gambling interests – Rogers characterized his job as that of an actor playing a role.
A savvy politician, Rogers served one term as a state representative. Then the Woodstock resident ran and won the District 21 Senate seat in 2002. In his fourth term, he was elected majority leader.
Sources close to the situation say Rogers first began to court disaster as the ringleader of the maneuvering to strip Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle of his powers in the Senate, including the committee chairmanship appointments. That bought him some enemies.
Next, he appropriated $140,000 out of the Republican Senate Trust Fund to help pick GOP candidates in their Georgia primary elections. The trust fund was created to help elect GOP Senate candidates in the general election against Democrats, not to help selected allies in their primaries.
His public split with the governor over the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax was also cited as another blunder. The governor wanted it to pass, but Rogers came out against it.
The final straw was the curious mandatory October meeting when he called Senate Republicans for the now infamous Agenda 21 seminar. At the meeting, listeners heard a power-point presentation attacking the United Nations Agenda 21, a non-binding agreement to promote land use planning and environmental sustainability.
Its far-right critics say it is an attack on individual property rights. When word got out about the meeting and its message, it made national news. Within days, Rogers announced he would not seek re-election as majority leader, and then his resignation Dec. 4.