Athens representatives Jody Hice and Andrew Clyde were among the 21 Republican congressmen who voted against a bill awarding gold medals to police officers who defended the U.S. Capitol when Trump supporters seeking to stop the election results’ official certification stormed the building on Jan. 6.
Hice told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he voted against the bill, which passed with 406 votes, because the text didn’t mention the death of Officer Billy Evans. In an Apr. 2 incident unrelated to the Jan. 6 riot, a man later identified as a member of the Nation of Islam rammed Evans with a car, but his motives remain unclear. Clyde has refused to explain his vote.
Clyde and Hice are cosponsors of an alternative bill honoring all the Capitol police who’ve died over the years without mentioning the riot itself. That bill merely recognizes officers “who passed in January 2021” without saying exactly when or how.
Two congressmen told the Washington Post that, the day after the gold medal vote, Clyde refused to shake hands with Michael Fanone, a Capitol police officer who was beaten, tased, and suffered a concussion and heart attack during the Jan. 6 riot. Fanone confirmed the account in an interview with CNN, saying that he extended his hand to Clyde and introduced himself while on an elevator. Fanone said that “the congressman turned away from me,” and when the elevator door opened, “ran as quickly as he could, like a coward.”
Last month, Clyde and Hice both sought to downplay the insurrection during a House committee hearing. Clyde said that calling the insurrection an insurrection is “a bold-faced lie,” and compared the looting and violence of thousands of Trump supporters to “a normal tourist visit.” After his testimony, photos surfaced of Clyde looking terrified and helping to barricade a door during the supposedly peaceful event.
Despite his apparent fearful reaction to the attack—which required lawmakers to be evacuated as their offices were ransacked and protesters occupied the House and Senate—Clyde balked at new security measures. He and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) are suing because Speaker Nancy Pelosi fined them for refusing to walk through metal detectors.
Democrats immediately pounced. “These Georgia representatives should be absolutely ashamed of themselves,” Scott Hogan, executive director of the Democratic Party of Georgia, said in a news release. “The fact that nearly half of Georgia’s Republican congressional delegation voted against honoring the officers who protected them during the violent riots on January 6 tells us all we need to know about the Georgia GOP’s priorities. If Georgia Republicans plan on touting ‘law and order’ ever again, they better condemn their colleagues’ disgraceful votes from last night.”
Will it do any good? Probably not. No matter what Clyde says or does, he’s most likely safe in his rural Northeast Georgia district, which has given Republican candidates at least 75% of the vote going back to 2004. So is his partner in denial the next district over, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, but the equally outrageous Greene has at least drawn a relatively strong Democratic challenger in Rome city commissioner Wendy Davis. (And at least Greene and Hice voted to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, which Clyde did not.)
Hice, meanwhile, is running for secretary of state and hopes to ride Trump’s “Big Lie” about the stolen election all the way to the Gold Dome. A host of candidates are lining up to replace him in the safe Republican district, each one Trumpier than the last. The list includes former Rep. Paul Broun of Athens, who could be termed the original QAnon congressman for accusing Democrats of trying to start a secret police force and using a national disaster as a pretext to declare martial law way back in President Obama’s first term. But now, as Ed Kilgore wrote in New York magazine, Broun might be considered a moderate. Seven years ago, Mike Collins, a trucking company owner and son of the late congressman Mac Collins who finished second in the 2014 GOP primary, was perceived as the “establishment” candidate versus Hice, but it appears he’s learned his lesson, announcing his campaign with an ad featuring himself behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler dubbed the “Trump Agenda.”
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