Apr 3, 2021

Brian Kemp & Georgia Lawmaker Press Conference on MLB Pulling All Star Game: Transcript

Brian Kemp Georgia Press Conference MLB Voting Law
RevBlogTranscriptsSports TranscriptsBrian Kemp & Georgia Lawmaker Press Conference on MLB Pulling All Star Game: Transcript

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and other state officials held a press conference on April 3, 2021 in response to Major League Baseball’s announcement to pull the All Star Game out of Atlanta. The MLB’s actions were the result of a controversial voting law passed in Georgia last week. Read the news conference transcript here.

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Brian Kemp: (00:02)
Let me thank all of you for being with us today and I really want to thank so many grassroots conservatives and great elected leaders who are here with us. Yesterday, Major League Baseball caved to fear and lies from liberal activists. They ignored the facts of our new Election Integrity Law and they ignored the consequences of their decision on our local community. In the middle of a pandemic, Major League Baseball put the wishes of Stacey Abrams and Joe Biden ahead of the economic wellbeing of hard working Georgians who were counting on the all-star game for a paycheck. Georgians and all Americans should know what this decision means. It means canceled culture and partisan activists are coming for your business. They’re coming for your game or event in your hometown. They’re coming to cancel everything from sports to how you make a living. They will stop at nothing to silence all of us. They don’t care about jobs, they don’t care about our communities, and they certainly don’t care about access to the ballot box. Because if they did, Major League Baseball would have announced that they were moving their headquarters from New York yesterday.

Audience: (01:26)
Here, here.

Brian Kemp: (01:36)
In New York, they have 10 days of early voting. In Georgia, we have a minimum of 17, with two additional Sundays that are optional for all counties in our state. In New York, you have to have an excuse to vote by absentee. In Georgia, you can vote absentee for any reason and you can do it securely. It’s easier to vote in Georgia than it is in New York. Even more ridiculous is that MLB didn’t cite a single reason that they disagreed with the bill in their statement. Everyone standing here today, and those at home, know why. Because the facts and the truth don’t support their narrative. It’s because the election integrity expands access to the polls and ensures the integrity of the ballot box.

Brian Kemp: (02:41)
Then why did MLB move the all-star game yesterday? Because Joe Biden and Stacey Abrams have spent days lying to Georgians and the American people. The truth is that Joe Biden hasn’t read the bill and Stacey Abrams is raising millions off the fake outrage that she has created. Even the Washington Post has given president Biden four Pinocchios for his false attacks on our new law. Not to mention that his own home state of Delaware has no early voting and requires an excuse to vote absentee. But is Stacey Abrams calling these States and their antiquated election laws Jim Crow 2.0? No, because for her and the partisan activists who support her, it’s about raising money and obtaining more power.

Brian Kemp: (03:47)
For them, it’s not about the truth. It’s not about the facts. Because here’s the truth, SV202 expands access to voting, secures ballot drop boxes around the clock in every county, expands weekends voting, protects no excuse absentee voting, and levels the playing field on voter ID requirements, as well as streamlining election procedures. And yes, water can be provided to voters that are in line by election workers. And yes, we are not going to allow political organizations or anyone else to harass or electioneer voters who are waiting in line to vote, within the 150 foot buffer.

Brian Kemp: (04:43)
Those are the simple facts. Free and fair elections are the foundation of who we are as a state and a nation. Secure, accessible, fair elections are worth the threats. They are worth the boycotts, as well as the lawsuits.

Brian Kemp: (05:14)
I want to be clear. I will not be backing down from this fight and neither are the people who are here with me today.

Audience: (05:22)
Here, here.

Brian Kemp: (05:33)
We will not be intimidated and we will also not be silenced. Major League Baseball, Coca-Cola, and Delta may be scared of Stacey Abrams, Joe Biden, and the left, but I am not and we are not [inaudible 00:05:50]. It is now my honor to turn the podium over to a great friend and a great Georgia attorney general, Chris Carr.

Chris Carr: (06:09)
Thank you, governor. Good afternoon, everybody.

Chris Carr: (06:22)
Anybody who actually reads this bill quickly sees that it strengthens security, expands access, and improves transparency in Georgia’s elections.

Chris Carr: (06:44)
Again, anybody who actually reads this bill, sees how comparing it to the Jim Crow era, one of the most tragic periods in American history, where human beings were killed and truly were prevented from casting their ballot, is preposterous, irresponsible, and fundamentally wrong.

Chris Carr: (07:16)
We actually diminished the horrors of Jim Crow when we compare the unjustifiable abuses of those times with a photo ID requirement that applies equally to everyone, to expanded voting hours across the state, and to the assurance that the public has access to our electoral process. But that’s exactly what Stacey Abrams, Joe Biden, Raphael Warnock, Jon Ossoff, and so many others have shamefully been doing over the past several weeks.

Chris Carr: (07:55)
Every time Stacey goes on a late night talk show, does a friendly podcast, or as a guest on MSNBC, every single word that she says is accepted as an undeniable fact. That’s also what many leaders in America are falling for right now, without doing their own due diligence. And it’s not healing our nation, but further dividing us and causing real harm to real people to real Georgians.

Chris Carr: (08:29)
So, when we defend this bill in court, the Stacey says standard will not apply. It will all be about the facts and the law. With that, I want to turn it over to our great congressmen from the Western part of our state, Drew Ferguson.

Drew Ferguson: (08:56)
Governor, Attorney General, thank you.

Chris Carr: (09:02)
Governor and Attorney General, thank you. To all of you that are here today defending the openness and the fairness of our elections, I thank you.

Chris Carr: (09:11)
I have been appalled at the shockingly dishonest and disingenuous statements by not only Major League Baseball, but the corporate CEOs here in our state. What they are saying is wrong, and they should be ashamed. They owe an apology to the men and women that have voted to make sure that Georgia elections are both open and fair.

Chris Carr: (09:37)
It is unacceptable, it is unacceptable for corporate CEOs and other outside groups and organizations to call the men and women of the Georgia Legislature racist. That is wrong, and it must end. They should apologize now.

Chris Carr: (10:07)
On top of that, and most importantly, they should apologize to our fellow Georgians for robbing them of the paychecks and the livelihood that will come because of their actions.

Chris Carr: (10:24)
It is unconscionable for a corporate CEO to put himself or herself ahead of the men and women that are working to make their company successful. It is unconscionable for them to make statements that will cause harm to Georgia families, which is exactly what they’ve done. We wait on their apology with bated breath.

Chris Carr: (10:48)
You’ve got to ask yourself, why are they doing this? Why are they leaning in so heavily on Georgia, on a bill that does away with the false choice that has been pushed upon us for too many years that you can either have incredible voter access or voter integrity? We can and we should demand and we can have both, both access and integrity, and this bill goes a long way towards doing that.

Chris Carr: (11:21)
So why are they doing it? Why are they going so hard after our great state? It is to set the table for another battle in Washington, DC over H.R.1 for the Politicians Act and Senate Bill 1. Now, that is a bill that nationalizes the election process. It makes our elections less secure by making sure that all of the voting apparatus is centralized in one place. That is less secure than what we have today.

Chris Carr: (11:51)
It is a bill that uses money owned by the taxpayers of this country to publicly fund at a six-to-one match small dollar donations in federal elections. That means that if you’re a Georgian, your tax dollars in DC will be going to fund a candidate in New York City. That is wrong. It is a bill that does away with ID requirements to vote. That does not make our elections more secure. It does just the opposite. It is a bill that allows people that are not eligible to vote that are in this country illegally, it gives them a ballot. That is wrong.

Chris Carr: (12:38)
Most importantly, H.R.1 and Senate Bill 1 are unconstitutional. To all of the corporate CEOs, to the corporate board members, to Major League Baseball, and other entities, you run your businesses on a set of corporate bylaws and corporate governance. It would be tantamount to you throwing that out and saying that you will run your company how you damn well please. That is wrong. It is unconstitutional; and at some point, the shareholders of your company are going to begin to question your fiduciary responsibility and ask, “Are you doing the right thing by your company and by your employees and by your constituents and your customers?” because you are going down a path that makes absolutely no sense, because it is wrong, it is disingenuous, and it is a lie.

Chris Carr: (13:41)
Today, The New York Times put out a piece, 16 points about what was wrong with Georgia’s election bill. It is laughable. It is a stretch, to be kind. But I expect nothing less from a paper that is wallowing in a gutter of unethical practices and intellectual dishonesty. We have to go every single day after the truth. The Attorney General and the Governor have both said it. We will win this argument based on the facts, not on the false narrative perpetrated by the far left.

Chris Carr: (14:18)
This is about making sure that every single American has the right to vote and to choose their own future in this country. If these laws go through, you will lose your individualism, you will lose your ability to make a living, you will lose your personal freedoms. We have to stand up against this, and I am proud to stand here with these brave men and women, with our Governor, and our Attorney General to say no more. We will win this battle. Thank you.

Brian Kemp: (14:56)
Well, thank you General Carr and Congressman Ferguson and all of you for being here today. With that, we’ll open it up for questions.

Speaker 1: (15:05)
Hi, Governor Kemp. This morning, you did an interview in which you stated that had the MLB actually come to you and talked about specific problems they had with the bill, that you’d be happy to do it. I wonder if you can talk about-

Brian Kemp: (15:21)
Well, I said I’d be happy to discuss it.

Speaker 1: (15:22)
To discuss it. Now, if they had come to you with specific problems, which parts of the bill would you have specifically been amenable to adjusting or discussing during this process?

Brian Kemp: (15:34)
You’re asking me to answer a non-existent question.

Speaker 1: (15:40)
Which parts of the bill would you have been open to discussion about?

Brian Kemp: (15:44)
That’s the point. That’s the point. No one, no one has brought up any specifics in the bill. If you look at all the statements that are out there, look at all the statements, not one complaint.

Brian Kemp: (15:59)
They know they obviously can’t complain about us adding access on the weekends. They can’t complain about us using a voter ID requirement in Georgia, which you can get a free one if you don’t have one. We’ve been doing that since the mid-2000s for in-person early voting, where prior to this election, 97% of the people, 95% of the people voted that way instead of using an arbitrary signature match, that was problematic, took forever, and was driving our local elections officials crazy because we had a 351% increase in absentee ballots.

Brian Kemp: (16:42)
They are not complaining … Well, some of them have complained about drop boxes, like we’re taking something away. For people that don’t know and have not read the bill, like Joe Biden, we’ve never had drop boxes in our legislation in decades in Georgia. We do now for the first time ever codified in the law. They were used last election because of a emergency order by the State Election Board, not by the members of the General Assembly standing behind me. We have done that this year.

Brian Kemp: (17:19)
We are requiring the local elections officials to do continuous counting so you don’t have breaks and have doubt and confusion and the inability for either party to monitor the process. No one has said anything about any of those provisions.

Brian Kemp: (17:36)
The ones that have complained about the water issue are factually wrong, including the President. A voter can bring food. They can bring water. They can order a pizza while they are standing in line, but we’re not going to let the NRA or the Sierra Club hand out pizza or water to people that are in line within the boundaries specified in the law. If you are one foot over that-

Brian Kemp: (18:03)
… specified in the law. If you’re one foot over that boundary, you can set up a table and hand out water, pizza, or whatever else you want.

Speaker 2: (18:10)
Governor, can I-

Brian Kemp: (18:11)
I stand ready to answer questions on specifics of the bill. If you have one, I’ll be glad to do that.

Speaker 2: (18:18)
That would be great. I was wondering if you could respond to some of these following specifics on how they do not restrict voter access, such as the banning of mobile voting centers, like the ones used in Fulton County. You said the codifying of the drop boxes that had not been in law before, but effectively reduces the number of them compared to what was used in the November election in Fulton County, reducing the amount of time for voters to request absentee ballots and banning the automatic mailing of applications for absentee ballots to voters.

Brian Kemp: (18:54)
Well, I will tell you that I think all of these things, and there’s plenty of legislators that can to talk to you individually after the press conference. But I know myself and a lot of them got a lot of these questions. First of all, on the drop boxes, there’s a very simple formula that is now going to be used on the drop boxes for all counties. There are counties … people are saying we are taking something away with drop boxes. There’s counties that did not have a drop box last election.

Brian Kemp: (19:22)
Now every county … was it 49?

Speaker 3: (19:24)
49.

Brian Kemp: (19:26)
49. Now every County will be required to have one drop box. Keep in mind, if you are a voter, you have plenty of time to mail your ballot. But if you feel uncomfortable like that, you can do like I did because I was under COVID quarantine and didn’t want to go in the polling location. I went and dropped mine into a drop box. You can still do that. It’s in a secure location now.

Brian Kemp: (19:53)
Even the days leading up to when it’s very close to the election, you can take your ballot and hand it off to the local elections official if you don’t feel like you’re going to have time to mail it. In regards to the mailing date that the US Post Office recommends 14 to 15 days cutoff before the election. This bill has it at 11. You know who asked us to do that? Who asked the members of the general assembly to do that? The Association of County Commissioners of Georgia. They represent county governments that per the constitution run the election because you had so many ballots that weren’t mailed on time, they weren’t received on time, they weren’t mailed on time. They come in after the elections and they don’t count.

Brian Kemp: (20:40)
You still have weeks and weeks to request your absentee ballot. But now we are cutting that deadline a little bit shorter at 11 days prior to the election to make sure the voter has time to get their ballot back where it will be counted. There are reasonable mechanical fixes that are in this bill, that this general … A lot of people talk about how quickly this was done. The Speaker of the House set up in the committee to work on this issue before the end of the year. The legislative session right here in this building started the second Monday in January. The bill was just completed a little over a week or so ago. This has been going on for months, this negotiation between the House and the Senate, and then our office to get to this final version.

Speaker 2: (21:35)
You just mentioned the timeline for how this bill was developed and passed. I know it was the last few months, but is the timing of this based on your belief that there was some fraud in recent elections in Georgia?

Brian Kemp: (21:50)
Well, certainly everybody wants to bake in to the people of our state and everyone around the country that that’s what’s going on here. I’ll let the legislators speak for themselves, but I know myself, our team, a lot of the legislators we were working on … Listen, I realize people have all kinds of difference of opinions and beliefs about the 2020 election. But make no mistake. There were issues that happened on the election like they do in every election. This year, obviously there was more of a spotlight than ever. I think one of the reasons was the pandemic, and it changed a lot of things. We had a brand new system in Georgia. We had things like drop boxes that we’ve never used, at least in recent memory. Therefore, there were mechanical issues that needed to be fixed. There were reasons to try to figure out a better way, a more accessible way and a more secure way for us to hold elections. There is nothing wrong with that. We shouldn’t apologize for wanting to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat.

Brian Kemp: (23:11)
Now, if we were making it less easy to vote and harder to cheat, then maybe there’s an argument for boycotts and protests and moving All-Star games. But that is not what happened. What happened was Georgia is going to have secure, very accessible, and fair elections in the future in this state.

Speaker 2: (23:36)
Governor Kemp, are you concerned at all about a possible snowball effect? What specifically are you doing to keep Georgia from losing any other major events?

Brian Kemp: (23:47)
I can tell you that we were not wavering for anybody that’s out there thinking that any kind of snowball effect is going to have an effect on me, it will not. Because we have-

Brian Kemp: (24:07)
We have worked in good faith with the business community, with the chambers of commerces, with some of the same companies that have flip-flopped on this issue. We have worked with their folks, and they knew exactly what was in this bill. I’ll let prior statements and statements after that speak to that fact. But I know in my heart what is in this bill. This bill is creating more accessibility and for us to continue to have better processes in the state that are secure for every vote, no matter who you are. I don’t think we need to apologize one bit for that. I will tell you, these other events, other corporations, or if you’re like me, if you’re … I’m a CEO too, I’m just not as big as some of the ones that have been gaining a lot of attention because I’ve been a small business owner for over 35 years. That is the backbone of our economy. But you now have a choice. You can bow down to this cancel culture because I’ll give you a warning. If you do, it’s never enough. It will never be enough.

Brian Kemp: (25:50)
Now is the time for us to speak out and hold people accountable. I’m so appreciative to the many companies and many strong individuals that we have worked with right here in this building that have not done what other people have done because they know what the truth is. I want to thank them for standing strong. But this is where all of us need to come together. Republicans and Democrats because they’ll come for you too. They will come for you too.

Speaker 4: (26:34)
Governor Kemp, thanks for taking questions. My question’s about some of the earlier drafts of this bill during the legislative session that did take away Sunday voting, that did eliminate no excuse absentee voting. Does that speak to you to any of the original intent of some of this legislation as far as access to the ballot box?

Brian Kemp: (26:53)
Look, I think you make a great point. That’s what the other side thought we were going to do when they reserved Jim Crow 2.0 weeks-

Brian Kemp: (27:03)
And I reserved Jim Crow 2.0. Weeks ago, they wrote the playbook for how they were going to react and how they were going to pressure people based on what they thought was going to be in the final version of the bill. But I give a lot of credit to our team, to the Speaker of the House, to the leadership in the Senate, and the members of the general assembly that kept giving and taking. And that’s what you do in these buildings when you have a Senate, and a House, and you have a executive branch. And the bill can not become law about all three of them. You got to pass both chambers and you got to get the governor to sign it. And through that negotiation and through talks with these companies that have now flip-flopped on the issue, we got to what’s in the final version of the bill. And that is what’s law, not what somebody was going to do.

Speaker 5: (28:01)
Governor, thanks for taking questions. Your campaign, I have seen, has already started to campaign off of MLB moving the game. Democrats have already started politicizing Senate Bill 202, which you signed. What do you make of this politicization? And what kind of impact do you think it will have on the 2022 election cycle?

Brian Kemp: (28:25)
Hey, I’m in the fight politically and as the governor of the state of Georgia. And we have two choices. We can let the other side outflank us, out-politicize us, or we can get in the fight with them. And that’s what we’re doing. I mean, this is a call to everyone, not only in Georgia, but all across the country to wake up and to get in the fight and to help us in that fight, because they are coming for you next. I mean, what sport are they going after now? What event are they going to go after? What convention?What are they going to do if the Braves make the playoffs? Are they going to move the damn playoff game?

Brian Kemp: (29:27)
They going to move it to other states that have more restrictive voting than we have? I mean, we’re going to gauge everything on that, then as Congressman Ferguson said, you don’t believe in what the constitution says. Our founders of this country created elections at the state level, and this came out 50 years after the signing, creating our country. The reason they did that was it would be harder to have foreign interference on our elections. That is more prevalent today than ever. And that’s why I, and you could go back and document the record, when I was Secretary of State, even when other of my colleagues, other secretary of states were pushing agendas in places like California, and Oregon, and other places about vote by mail, same day voter registration, no photo ID, all these different things, I didn’t like that.

Brian Kemp: (30:31)
I thought it was a bad idea from having secure elections, but I also supported their right to do that, because of what the constitution said. And that is what all of this is about. They are trying to pressure these corporations into supporting H.R.1 and S.R.1 to undermine our elections in the state and make an unconstitutional power grab in Washington, DC.

Speaker 6: (30:59)
This is our last question.

Speaker 7: (31:01)
Governor Kemp, my name is [inaudible 00:31:03] I’m a Georgia resident. I live in Gwinnett County. I appreciate your courage. We all join you in communicating this, not only in Georgia, but nationally as well. My question is this: how is it that in-person voting requires identification yet we fuss and fight over requiring identification for absentee ballot?

Brian Kemp: (31:38)
Well, thank you. Thank you for that and thank you for being here. And I think you make a very good point about the photo or voter ID requirement. And I will just tell you, on behalf of a lot of my friends in the general assembly, some of them that I served with myself when I was in the legislature. There has been a lot of thoughtful discussion about how we do that and answer those questions: well, what if you don’t have a copy machine at your house and you can’t include a photo ID? That’s why you have where you can simply write the numbers down and other ways that you can request an absentee ballot. And again, I looked at this this morning, because I had a question about this on the free voter ID requirement.

Brian Kemp: (32:19)
And if you don’t have one, how you can go about getting that, at your county elections office, at department of driver services places around the state. Early in my days of being in the Secretary of State’s office, we actually had, and I know Governor Perdue is here, there was mobile vans and buses that would go around and help people get voter IDs if they did not have one. That all still exists in our state. I doubt there are many people that do not have an ID, but for those that may be in that situation, if they’re elderly or whatever the situation may be, there are easy remedies to fixing that situation to make sure that everyone can vote, but that they can do it securely, which is one of the greatest rights and opportunities that we have as Georgians and Americans. Thank you all for being here.