ATLANTA – State Representative Sheri Gilligan (R-Cumming, D24), along with a number of other House Members, announced her continued support for Rep. David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge, D7) to immediately resign his position as the Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives.
In February, news outlets reported that in a 2-year period, Speaker Ralston had filed 57 requests for continuance on 21 cases. Of the 93 days that Ralston told the courts he was unavailable, 76 (81%) were outside of the legislative session.
“Since the Atlanta Journal Constitution first broke the story about Ralston’s abuse of Georgia’s legislative leave law a few months ago,” said Gilligan, “additional research has turned up an astonishing number of abuses of legislative leave in criminal and civil cases Ralston handles.”
In a press conference held at the Capitol on April 17th, over 900 instances of legislative leave requests by David Ralston in over 200 cases were documented since he was first elected to Speaker of the House. “By any measure, Ralston’s number of legislative leave requests is extreme and a clear exploitation of the intent of the law,” said Gilligan.
In response to the report of abuse of the legislative leave law, the General Assembly passed HB 502 this legislative session. This bill expands the group of people who can claim legislative leave, adds seven additional legislative leave days before the onset of the regular or special session, and also allows for leave if a member’s staff holds a scheduled meeting. “The speaker has a pattern of using the General Assembly to craft laws in his favor. After the state bar issued a reprimand against Ralston, the Speaker used the general assembly to strip the authority for the State Bar of Georgia to appoint members to the Judicial Qualifications Commission which disciplines judges (HB 808 2016). This year that pattern was repeated with HB 502,” Gilligan said. “The fact that a member can claim legislative leave if staff holds a scheduled meeting makes any other changes moot.”
Gilligan said that she would have preferred to quietly deal with Speaker Ralston’s abuses instead of launching a public debate. However, Ralston has repeatedly shown he is fully intending to remain at his post as Speaker of the House. “The speaker is elected by the House majority party,” said Gilligan, “so the House Republicans and the State Republican Party should make the stand to force his resignation as Speaker.” Rep. Gilligan said, “I call on David Ralston to do the right thing and resign his Speakership position effective immediately.”
Representative Sheri Gilligan represents the citizens of District 24, which includes the city of Cumming and portions of Forsyth County. She was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2015 and currently serves as Vice Chairman of the Resource Management Subcommittee. She also serves on Budget & Fiscal Affairs Oversight, Code Revision, Human Relations & Aging, Industry & Labor, Natural Resources & Environment, Science & Technology Committees.