A Georgia state soldier on Tuesday escorted a Republican state lawmaker out of the House chamber in Atlanta after refusing to comply with the legislature’s coronavirus testing protocols.
Representative David Clark, who represents a suburban district in northeast Atlanta, was led from the chamber on the orders of Representative David Ralston, the Speaker of the House and a fellow Republican. Mr. Ralston, without mentioning Mr. Clark’s name, had initially announced that a colleague had failed to follow the testing protocols and had asked that member to leave. But Mr. Clark refused.
“I don’t know about you, but I’ve been to too many funerals – and I’m tired of going,” Mr. Ralston said from the House podium after ordering Mr. Clark to be removed. .
Lawmakers are to be tested twice a week at a Capitol site when they are in session.
The outbreak was just the latest internal fight between Republicans in Georgia, who were torn apart by former President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to overturn the state’s election results. Mr Clark and other lawmakers signed an amicus brief supporting a lawsuit in Texas, rejected by the US Supreme Court, which sought to overturn Mr Trump’s losses in Georgia and three other swing states.
Mr Ralston was among key Republican lawmakers who resisted Mr Trump’s efforts to alter election results on baseless charges of widespread electoral fraud.
Mr Clark, in a telephone interview on Tuesday, said he had not been tested because he was upset that people who worked in the Georgia Statehouse had access to regular testing, unlike many other Americans. “There are only a limited number of tests,” he says.
Mr Clark said he was considering legal action to challenge his deportation and believed it was political retaliation on Mr Ralston’s part. Mr Clark had previously demanded Mr Ralston’s ouster after an Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation found the speaker, who is a lawyer, used his political post to delay legal proceedings for clients accused of pedophilia , domestic violence and rape, among other charges. .
“The speaker is trying to crucify me for this because of what I have done to him in the past,” Mr. Clark said.
Mr Clark said he was not a pandemic denier. But he said he considers the state’s regular testing regime for lawmakers to be excessive if they follow recommendations from public health experts to wear masks, monitor temperatures and social distancing.