The Cherokee County Republican Party has a blurb on its website about Rep. Sam Moore, who won the 22nd District House seat earlier this month following the death of veteran lawmaker Calvin Hill. Among other tidbits about Moore are his hobbies, including this: "Playing jokes … watch out. You have been warned!"
Boy, were they ever wrong. Sam Moore doesn’t play jokes. He has been the joke. The guy hasn’t been in the Legislature long enough to locate the men’s room and he introduces a piece of legislation that would allow convicted sex offenders to go anywhere, including schools, parks and playgrounds and would ban law enforcement from forcing them to identify themselves under any circumstances. Moore claims this is a violation of their Fifth Amendment rights. (That whirling sound you hear is the Founding Fathers.)
Wisely, he has apologized for a "rookie mistake," but the damage is done. He ought to have known better. Rookies should be seen and not heard.
To say he has stirred up a hornet’s nest is an understatement. Cherokee County Sheriff Roger Garrison told the Cherokee Tribune, "In my 34 years of law enforcement I have never heard of such an insane law having been introduced. Sexual predators are (among) this country’s most violent offenders. If there’s any equal it would be an out-and-out serial killer."
Fortunately, the Georgia Legislature was equally aghast. Shocking that crowd is akin to kissing a frog; it doesn’t happen often.House Majority Leader Larry O’Neal (R-Bonaire) called the bill "one of the most egregious" pieces of legislation. Having once authored a bill giving his law firm’s client, then-Gov. George E. Perdue, a $100,000 retroactive tax break, Mr. O’Neal is an authority on egregious legislation.
Rep. John Pezold (R-Fortson) said, "If Mr. Moore’s mission was to come down to the state Capitol and alienate his colleagues by staking out positions that no one in their right mind could agree with, he can now hang a ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner behind him because he has done just that." I like this guy.
Probably the only vote that really counts in the House of Representatives is Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge), and to say he wasn’t real happy with Moore’s proposed legislation is an understatement. Ralston says the bill is not a Republican-backed measure and it "chooses to stand with sex offenders and pedophiles and that is something I can’t fathom."
In all, about a dozen lawmakers took the floor of the House to rip on the bill and on Rep. Sam Moore. After the public flogging by his colleagues, he told reporters he was "shocked" by what had taken place. "It’s an election year and I get it," Moore said. "It didn’t surprise me that people would want to distance themselves from it. But the vitriol that came out, this was the worst thing I have seen in my whole life." Bless his heart.
Now he says, "That was obviously a mistake. Had I reached out to other members, that mistake could have easily been avoided. If I had known that the media would be looking at my legislation, I probably wouldn’t have dropped any of my bills without additional consultation."
Didn’t anybody back home talk to this guy before he headed off to Atlanta? This is pretty basic stuff.
Rep. Moore, the media is supposed to look at legislation. You see, you are doing the people’s business and we have the job of telling people what you are planning to spring on them, like giving convicted sex offenders free roam around schools and playgrounds.
The only thing I have seen close to this kind of legislative chutzpah occurred last session when newbie Rep. Charles Gregory (R-Kennesaw) filed four bills before he had been sworn in. Who do these kids think they are? They are like rookie athletes who make the team and then proceed to alienate their teammates with their showboating behavior before the opening kickoff. They haven’t earned that right.
If you are going to be a zealot, be sure you’ve got the influence to get zealous things accomplished. If you are new on the job, keep your eyes open and your mouth shut. Make friends among your colleagues and ask their advice on how things work in the body politic. You just might learn something that would benefit you and those you represent.
Sam Moore has embarrassed his Republican colleagues and given the Democrats wonderful campaign fodder. I’m afraid the joke is on him.
You can reach Dick Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org; at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139; online at dickyarbrough.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dickyarb.