The afternoon of Saturday, June 9, was supposed to be a day of celebration for Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. He attended a Hall County Republican Party forum, then headed to an event at the Hall County Sheriff’s Office and made his way to the grand opening of his Northeast Georgia campaign headquarters on Green Street in Gainesville.
Yet looming over him was fallout from a secret audio recording of a private conversation between Cagle and Clay Tippins, a former Republican primary rival who finished fourth in the May 22 gubernatorial primary. The audio was released by Tippins to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WSB-Channel 2 and has since been transcribed.
In the recording, Cagle admitted to pushing a bill, HB217, which raised the cap on tax credit for private school scholarships to $100 million from $58 million, in order to hurt state Sen. Hunter Hill’s chances in the primary. Hill finished third behind Cagle and runner-up Brian Kemp.
“Obviously, it was a private conversation that was supposed to be confidential,” Cagle said Saturday in an interview with The Times. “It doesn’t change the fact that I certainly said what I said, but it was in the context of a political discussion by which he wanted to have.”
By pushing the bill, which Cagle said in the audio was “bad policy,” the Walton Family Foundation, an education policy super PAC “that was getting ready to put $3 million behind Hunter Hill,” backed out.
Cagle was recorded saying the Walton Foundation backing out gave Hill “nothing to spend down the finish line,” effectively knocking him out of the running for governor.
“Politics is sometimes … it has to be created in a way that builds consensus,” Cagle said during the grand opening of his Gainesville headquarters. “And when you pull back the curtain, that’s not always a pretty process. But in the end, it is about doing the greater good. And I think people that know me, people who have seen my record, recognize that I am a person who wants…