Ralston strips key critic of House committee post

House Speaker David Ralston released a slate of new committee assignments that punished one of his most outspoken critics, who responded to his loss of a leadership post by calling the powerful lawmaker a “real-life Halloween monster.”

State Rep. David Clark said he was the victim of political retaliation after Ralston removed him as chairman of the Interstate Cooperation Committee months after he spearheaded a failed effort to remove the speaker from office.

“While thousands of Georgians were out trick-or-treating, a vindictive Speaker Ralston was busy retaliating against those who dared criticize him for protecting rapists and child molesters,” Clark said.

The Buford Republican was one of 10 lawmakers who sponsored House Resolution 328 in February, calling on Ralston to resign after an investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News found that he had frequently delayed criminal court cases by claiming the dates interfered with his legislative duties.

Ralston, who has a law practice in Blue Ridge, has said that he did nothing wrong. In a statement, Ralston said the changes were designed to ensure the House “works efficiently and effectively in the best interests of Georgians.”

Clark, meanwhile, said he had no regrets about his decision to criticize Ralston.

“If losing my committee chairmanship is the price I need to pay in order to do what’s right by my constituents, country and conscience, then so be it,” Clark said. “We shouldn’t be tolerating this real-life Halloween monster.”

As news of Clark’s resolution ricocheted around the Georgia Capitol, a string of prominent figures who had previously stayed out of the fray rallied behind Ralston. That included former Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican, and former Gov. Roy Barnes, a Democrat.

Clark wasn’t the only anti-Ralston dissident to experience a demotion.

State Rep. Jeff Jones, R-Brunswick, was removed from his position as vice chairman of the Regulated Industries Committee. Jones also signed on to the resolution to oust Ralston. He’ll be replaced by Republican state Rep. J. Collins of Villa Rica.

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