Gov. Nathan Deal defended the decision by Georgia Public Broadcasting to hire a political heavyweight and give him a big salary, paid for by tax dollars.
Former State Sen. Chip Rogers will earn $150,000 a year, nearly $11,000 more than the governor's salary.
The move is especially controversial as the governor asks state agencies to cut $550 million from their budgets.
When asked if it was prudent to pay Rogers such a high salary as the rest state agencies are forced to tighten their belts, deal answered "he is filling a slot at GPB, one that is a new field, promoting economic development in our state."
Rogers, the former state senate majority leader, stepped down from his powerful post last fall to take the position of executive producer of job creation at GPB.
Bryan Long, executive director for the progressive advocacy group Better Georgia, launched an online petition to try force GPB to fire Rogers.
"Gov. Deal is using taxpayer dollars to pay a political buddy for a job that was never advertised, that was created especially for him," Long said.
Rogers's new job also raised the ire of Ashlie Wilson Pendley, a senior producer and longtime employee at GPB.
Pendley is leaving the station in protest. In her resignation letter, Pendley wrote: "It is unconscionable to create a position and compensate any individual in this manner during these difficult times. This was the wrong decision for GPB. It has the appearance of the political manipulation of the public airwaves. This stinks of cronyism."
Rogers is a controversial figure who drew criticism after hosting a meeting at the state capitol, accusing President Obama of using mind control on U.S. citizens.
CBS Atlanta asked the governor if he forced Rogers from political office because he became an embarrassment.
Deal responded "no" and walked away.
Copyright 2013 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Tuesday, April 20 2010 11:21 PM EDT2010-04-21 03:21:00 GMT
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