Georgia Rep. David Clark Expelled From Chamber for Refusing Coronavirus Test

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Georgia Rep. David Clark Expelled From Chamber for Refusing Coronavirus Test


A Georgia state trooper escorted a Republican state lawmaker out of the House chamber in Atlanta on Tuesday after he refused to abide by the legislature’s coronavirus testing protocols.

Representative David Clark, who represents a suburban district northeast of Atlanta, was led from the chamber on the orders of Representative David Ralston, the House speaker and a fellow Republican. Mr. Ralston, without mentioning Mr. Clark’s name, had initially announced that a fellow member had not followed testing protocols, and asked that member to leave. But Mr. Clark refused.

“I don’t know about y’all but I’ve been to too many funerals — and I’m tired of going to them,” Mr. Ralston said from the House dais after ordering Mr. Clark removed.

Lawmakers are required to be tested twice weekly at a site in the Capitol while in session.

The flare-up was just the latest infighting among Georgia Republicans, who have been riven by former President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to overturn the state’s election results. Mr. Clark and other lawmakers signed on to an amicus brief supporting a Texas lawsuit, rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court, that had sought to overturn Mr. Trump’s losses in Georgia and three other swing states.

Mr. Ralston was among top Republican lawmakers who resisted Mr. Trump’s efforts to change the election results based on meritless accusations of widespread voter fraud.

Mr. Clark, in a phone interview on Tuesday, said he did not get tested because he was upset that people who worked in Georgia’s Statehouse had access to regular testing while many other Americans did not. “There are only so many tests,” he said.

Mr. Clark said that he was considering legal action to challenge his expulsion, and that he believed it was political retaliation by Mr. Ralston. Mr. Clark had earlier demanded Mr. Ralston’s ouster after an Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation found that the speaker, who is a lawyer, used his political post to delay court cases for clients accused of child molestation, domestic abuse and rape, among other charges.

“The speaker is trying to crucify me for this because of what I’ve done to him in the past,” Mr. Clark said.

Mr. Clark said he was not a pandemic denier. But he said he considered the state’s regular testing regimen for lawmakers excessive if they were following the recommendations of public health experts to wear masks, monitor temperatures and socially distance.



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