ATLANTA â€” Georgia’s top prosecutor has resigned as chairman of the national Republican Attorneys General Association, saying he has had a "fundamental difference of opinion" with some of the other 24 members since the group encouraged the crowd that breached the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Republican Chris Carr’s break with the group, made in an April 16 resignation letter first obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, reflects a continuing divide as some high-ranking Republicans seek to distance themselves from Donald Trump and others try to demonstrate their loyalty to the former president.
The association’s fundraising arm, the Rule of Law Defence Fund, paid for a robocall urging attendance at the rally that immediately preceded the violent breaching of the Capitol.
"At 1 p.m., we will march to the Capitol building and call on Congress to stop the steal," the robocall said, according to a recording obtained by The Associated Press. "We are hoping patriots like you will join us to continue to fight to protect the integrity of our elections."
The association’s executive director, Adam Piper, resigned days later, and the board replaced Piper on Thursday with Peter Bisbee, who had led the Rule of Law Defence Fund on Jan. 6 and reportedly approved paying for the call.
In the riot’s aftermath, Carr repeatedly said he did not approve of the calls or of violent actions. His office also defended Georgia’s election results against a number of legal challenges.
While Carr said he supports the restrictive election law Brian Kemp signed last month and is defending the state against lawsuits regarding it as well, he said he can’t agree with the group’s current direction.
"This fundamental difference of opinion began with vastly opposite views of the significance of the events of Jan. 6 and the resistance by some to accepting the resignation of the executive director," Carr wrote in the April 16 letter. "The differences have continued as we have tried to restore RAGA’s reputation internally and externally and were reflected once again during the process of choosing our next executive director."
Ashley Trenzeluk, the association’s finance director, also resigned over Bisbee’s elevation, according to the Alabama Political Reporter.
"Over the last few months, I have fielded, reassured and assuaged concerns from our core donor base on the future direction of our organization," Trenzeluk wrote in an email obtained by the website. "The result of the executive committee vote to nominate Pete as RAGA's Executive Director is a decision I cannot defend."
Johnny Koremenos, a spokesman for the association, said it is focusing on protecting conservative interests against President Joe Biden.
"The Republican AGs are going to continue to fight the radical overreach of the Biden administration which has destroyed jobs on the Keystone XL pipeline, radical energy policies that destroy jobs, let China run rampant over American interests, and implemented policies that trample on religious freedom and civil liberties,” Koremenos said.
Carr has been rumoured to be considering a bid for the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in 2022. Two Democrats have already announced they’re running for attorney general â€” 2018 Democratic nominee Charlie Bailey, who lost narrowly to Carr, and state Sen. Jen Jordan of Sandy Springs, who represents parts of Fulton and Cobb counties.
Georgia Democratic Party spokesperson Rebecca Galanti described Carr as "an extremist who puts politics ahead of the rule of law."
"Chris Carr oversaw an organization that urged people to march on the U.S. Capitol in protest of a free and fair election,” she said. "His resignation now does not change the fact that under his leadership, Republican Attorneys General became even more anti-democratic and contributed to a deadly riot."
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Jeff Amy, The Associated Press