ATLANTA — A state senator says he wants to remove questions about Casey Cagle’s secret recording from the governor’s race. It’s the reason he says he’s asking prosecutors to act quickly to see if what Cagle did was criminal. But Cagle’s campaign says the question itself is laughable.
The issue surrounds a conversation secretly recorded that showed Cagle talking about how the campaign for governor affected his support for an education bill.
“Is it bad public policy? Between you and me, it is," Cagle was recorded saying to Clay Tippins, a former candidate who packed a recording device while meeting with Cagle two days after the May primary.
"This is not about policy. This is about politics,” Cagle whispers, saying his desire to steer a campaign contribution away from a rival drove his decision.
Some of Cagle’s critics say it’s about more than politics. In a letter written Wednesday, two Republican legislators ask local and federal prosecutors to investigate “compelling evidence of a direct quid pro quo offered by Cagle to trade legislative action for campaign funding.”
"I asked for this investigation to be done promptly so as to get this out of the political process as quickly as possible," state senator Bill Heath (R-Bremen) told 11Alive News Thursday.
Former U.S. attorney and Republican congressman Bob Barr says the request makes sense.
"Either way you look at it, it could be a violation of federal law," Barr said Wednesday.
But don’t look for a Cagle prosecution anytime soon, if at all, according to two former federal prosecutors. One of them, Kent Alexander, a Democrat appointed US Attorney by Bill Clinton, said via text, "public allegations always somehow magically ramp up during the election season… Historically, the US Attorney’s Office has shied away from pursuing non-time-sensitive allegations during the political season."
Alexander stressed he was not speaking on behalf of current US Attorney BJay Pak, whose office didn't return a request for comment.
Another former prosecutor, Jeff Brickman said no prosecutor would rush an investigation just to accommodate the campaign calendar.
"What is shocking about talking politics in a campaign office two days after an election," asked Brian Robinson, an adviser to Cagle.
Cagle was unavailable for comment, but Robinson says a prosecution is out of the question. "There’s no serious lawyer that would not laugh them out of the room for saying that" there was a criminal act.