The Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) broke a story Tuesday reporting that State Representative Matt Gurtler’s district was threatened by Chris Riley, Chief of Staff for Governor Nathan Deal.
On January 31, at a breakfast for Freshmen Legislators, Rep. Gurtler reports that Riley confronted him over his January 26th vote against the state’s amended 2017 budget. The confrontation occurred in front of several other new Representatives.
During the exchange, Rep. Gurtler defended his vote, the only no vote against the budget, citing his concerns over subsidies and government intervention into the free market. The AJC reports that Riley then responded by stating that “If you believe that then I will cut all funding to your district.” Gurtler told the AJC that “Not only did Mr. Riley threaten me, he threatened my entire constituency, some 50,000 plus Georgians in the 8th District.”
Rep. Gurtler took to social media to post the following regarding the incident:
“I was elected to represent the values & principles I campaigned on and have been doing my best to honor that commitment. Some important aspects are being open, transparent, & accountable. This means telling my constituents what’s really going on; it’s a fundamental part of the job.”
Rep. Gurtler was elected to his first term in 2016, easily winning his runoff election in July. He ran as a limited government conservative and has so far lived up to his promises as he has shown by voting against several measures including the renewal of the hospital provider fee, otherwise known as the “Bed Tax.” He currently works as a contractor and lives in Tiger, Georgia in the heart of Rabun County.
Chris Riley has been the Governor’s Chief of Staff since his election in 2010, and before that he worked with then Congressmen Deal as his Chief of Staff in Washington. It should be noted that not once has Mr. Riley held public office in Georgia, and that his position is one by appointment and not through an election.