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No discount, no tax break: Former Ga. senator upset over Delta's NRA decision

A decision by Delta to end discounted rates for the National Rifle Association comes at a critical time when the airline giant is up for a big jet fuel tax break in Georgia. Could it change the minds of legislators?

GRIFFIN, Ga. -- Since Thursday, more than a dozen brands have severed ties with the National Rifle Association.

Much of this is in response to the most recent high school mass shooting in Parkland, Florida. Delta Air Lines is one of those companies.

Saturday, the company tweeted they would be “ending their contract for discounted rates” with the NRA. Now some local politicians are pushing to hit the airline back in their pocket.

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It’s turned into a battle and the timing could not be worse for Delta when they are close to getting what would be a huge tax break that could save the company millions of dollars.

Within about two hours of Delta reaching out to the NRA, former Georgia Senator Rick Jeffares tweeted “if Delta is so flush that they don’t need NRA members’ hard-earned dollars, they can certainly do without the $40 million tax break they are asking Georgia taxpayers for.”

He’s talking about the proposed jet fuel tax break that would save Delta $40 million if it passes. 11Alive spoke to a representative for Jeffares who sent us a statement on his behalf.

"I have supported this tax break for Delta in the past but not this time,” it read. “If Delta can afford to write off the travel business of all those folks, they clearly don’t need a special tax break from Georgians.”

In Delta’s full statement, the company said they are trying to stay neutral during the national debate over gun control. They want to focus on business, but the company continues to support the second amendment.

Cobb County Republican Party Chairman Jason Shepherd isn’t buying it.

“By making the statement at the time that they did, when there is a controversy, it sends the message that they are taking sides in this debate,” Shepherd said.

Shepherd said he’s not interested in helping Delta as a company anymore. He’s even thinking twice about booking his next flight with the carrier.

And even though he didn’t feel strongly about the proposed jet fuel tax exemption in the past, now he says it’s about fairness.

“It’s giving a subsidy to a company at the same time that they’re basically saying to the people in the state of Georgia, all those who believe in the second amendment, we really don’t respect that right,” he said.

Shepherd said that if Delta would have privately told the NRA rather than releasing information publicly, the response could have been different.

The proposed tax exemption could be introduced on the Georgia Senate floor in the coming week. It remains to be seen if this push by Republicans to get it thrown out will make an impact.

Georgia Lt. Governor Casey Cagle tweeted Monday morning saying he would kill legislation that benefits Delta unless they change their position on the NRA.

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