Jason Spencer

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Jason Spencer
Member of the Georgia House of Representatives
from the 180th district
In office
January 10, 2011 – July 31, 2018
Preceded byCecily Hill
Succeeded bySteven Sainz
Personal details
Born
Jason Chauncey Spencer

(1974-11-14) November 14, 1974 (age 44)
Offutt AFB, Nebraska, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Melaney Fieldhouse
ResidenceWoodbine, Georgia
Alma materUniversity of Georgia (BS)
South University (BS)
University of Nebraska (MPAS)
Signature

Jason Chauncey Spencer (born November 14, 1974) is an American physician assistant and politician. He was elected as a Republican to the Georgia House of Representatives in 2010, representing district 180.[1][2] He faced criticism in July 2018 after being featured in the second episode of the satire show Who Is America?, in which he partially disrobed and flashed his buttocks, and screamed racial epithets after being prompted by a disguised Sacha Baron Cohen as part of what Cohen claimed to be counter-terrorism training.[1] Spencer later announced that he would resign from the Georgia House of Representatives effective July 31, 2018.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Spencer was born into a military family at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. The family moved to Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Georgia, in 1978 and to Alapaha, Georgia, a year later. Spencer graduated from Berrien High School in 1993.[4]

He attended Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College before transferring to Alabama State University, a historically black college (HBCU), on a full athletic scholarship for tennis. He transferred again to the University of Georgia, from which he graduated with a degree in exercise & sport science in 1997.[4]

Spencer trained as a physician assistant, receiving a second bachelor's degree from South University in Savannah and a master's degree in physician assistant studies from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in 2005.[4]

Political career[edit]

Electoral history[edit]

An active member of the Tea Party movement in coastal Georgia, Spencer was first elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 2010 after defeating incumbent Cecily Hill in a primary runoff.[5] His district centers on Woodbine in southeastern Georgia.[1] He was reelected in 2012, 2014, and 2016. In May 2018, he was defeated by a primary challenger, 24-year-old political newcomer Steven Sainz. A local party leader attributed Spencer's loss in part to his "antics" in office.[6] However, Spencer said "if he rubbed anyone the wrong way" he was doing so by standing up to powerful special interest representing the plight of "little guy." “My tactics won against them and that is one of the reasons why I stayed in office for eight years, because I effectively beat them at their own game,” said Spencer to the Brunswick News.[7] In a radio interview with WGIG 1440 AM, Rep. Jason Spencer stated he was often a target of many on the ideological left and by establishment politicians in leadership for introducing legislation that challenged powerful special interests, such as those who blocked a bill that the legislator nearly passed that would have extended civil justice to survivors of child sexual abuse.[8][9]

Tenure and controversies[edit]

During his time in office, Spencer was one of the most fervent opponents of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the Georgia House of Representatives.[10] He authored legislation that effectively blocked Medicaid expansion in Georgia and legislation blocking the establishment its own insurance marketplace as well as forcing the University of Georgia to terminate its "Obamacare" Navigator program under the Act.[11][12][13][14] In 2014, Spencer introduced legislation to block the state from "using of its resources to implement any portions of the health care law."[15] When this legislation was tabled by Senate Majority Whip Cecil Staton (R-Macon) and other opponents in committee, he issued a press release blaming fellow Republicans for an "eleventh hour betrayal" and likening them to "Benedict Arnolds, the King George the Third and his myrmidons."[16][17]

In 2016, after facing bipartisan opposition, Spencer withdrew a bill that was perceived to have banned Muslim women from wearing religious garments like burqas or niqābs in driver's license photographs or while driving cars.[18] The legislation aimed to amend an existing 1951 Georgia law that was constitutionally upheld by the Georgia Supreme Court (State v Miller, 1990) to unmask members of the Ku Klux Klan.[19] Many, including the Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR) and American Civil Liberties Union, accused Spencer of Islamophobia.[20][21] Spencer accused a constituent of treason and supporting terrorism for donating $10 to CAIR Georgia in response to his bill.[22] Spencer supported his charge of potential treason in a letter written to his constituent stating that CAIR was designated as a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates due to the organization's close ties to Hamas, an organization who has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. Department of State.[23] In addition, Spencer stated that CAIR was named by the U.S. Justice Department as an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terror funding trials in U.S. history, known as United States v Holy Land Foundation, et. al..[24][25][26][27][28] As a result of the backlash of submitting this legislation, Spencer said he received death threats after proposing the legislation.[29]

In 2017, Spencer attracted controversy in the debate over the removal of Confederate monuments and memorials. In a Facebook post, he issued a warning to an African American attorney, former House colleague and Bernie Sanders' Presidential Campaign State Director LaDawn Jones that she might "go missing in the Okefenokee," a swamp in southern Georgia (and partly in Spencer's district), if she followed through on her intentions to bring advocates to southern Georgia to remove Confederate monuments.[30][31][32][33]

Spencer was featured on the July 22, 2018, episode of Sacha Baron Cohen's show Who Is America?. At the urging of Baron Cohen, who posed as an Israeli counter-terrorism expert, Spencer exposed his bare buttocks, imitated a Chinese tourist using racial stereotypes, used a selfie stick to take an upskirt picture under a woman's burqa, and repeatedly yelled the word "nigger." Georgia House Speaker David Ralston urged Spencer to resign, saying that he had "disgraced himself." Governor Nathan Deal tweeted that Spencer's actions were "appalling and offensive."[29] Spencer apologized for what he described as "this ridiculously ugly episode" but initially refused to step down, saying that the show's producers exploited his state of mind "for profit and notoriety"[34] and that Baron Cohen and his crew had falsely promised he would be able to review and have final approval over any footage used.[29] Spencer later announced his resignation on July 24,[35] effective as of July 31.[36]

Notable Legislative Mentions[edit]

Prior to his resignation, Spencer was appointed to the following committees in the Georgia State House: Science & Technology; Games, Fish & Parks; Juvenile Justice; Human Aging & Relations and served as the Secretary to the House Special Rules Committee.[37]

During his time in the legislature, Spencer passed legislation that relaxed “live-aboard” boating restrictions and legalized home brew beer competitions in Georgia.[38][39]

Spencer served as an advocate for survivors of child sexual abuse where he introduced and passed landmark civil statute of limitations (SOL) reform legislation known as the Georgia Hidden Predator Act (HB 17, 2015).  This legislation removed or extended the civil SOL so survivors can gain access to justice and expose the identities of hidden pedophiles in the state of Georgia. The Hidden Predator Act was instrumental in leading to the unraveling of one of the largest sex scandals in U.S. sports history and the exposure of convicted serial child molester Dr. Larry Nassar.[40] Rep. Spencer received Voice Today's "Voice of Gratitude Award" for his efforts authoring the legislation.[41] In 2018, Spencer attempted to amend the 2015 law with more substantial language to strengthen it, but the bill was weakened by lobbying efforts from the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of America and other powerful interests groups where it narrowly failed to pass on the last day of the 2018 legislative session.[42][43][44][45]

In 2017, Spencer introduced and passed key legislation, known as the Georgia Space Flight Act (House Bill 1, 2017), to attract the commercial space industry to Georgia as part of an ongoing effort to establish Georgia's first commercial spaceport.[46][47]

Election results[edit]

2010 Republican primary, State Representative, District 180[48]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Cecily Hill 2,010 44.3%
Republican Jason Spencer 1,615 35.6%
Republican Rindy Howell 911 20.1%
2010 Republican primary runoff, State Representative, District 180[49]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jason Spencer 2,193 54.9%
Republican Cecily Hill 1,805 45.1%
2010 general election, State Representative, District 180[50]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jason Spencer 7,701 69.5%
Democratic Adell James 3,384 30.5%
2012 Republican primary, State Representative, District 180[51]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jason Spencer 4,157 51.68%
Republican Adam Jacobson 3,886 48.32%
2012 general election, State Representative, District 180[52]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jason Spencer (unopposed) 14,671 100%
2014 Republican primary, State Representative, District 180[53]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jason Spencer 2,759 58.95%
Republican Nancy H. Stasinis 1,921 41.05%
2014 general election, State Representative, District 180[54]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jason Spencer (unopposed) 8,534 100%
2016 Republican primary, State Representative, District 180[55]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jason Spencer (unopposed) 3,086 100%
2016 general election, State Representative, District 180[56]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jason Spencer (unopposed) 16,168 100%
2018 Republican primary, State Representative, District 180[57][58]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Steven Sainz 2,462 57.81%
Republican Jason Spencer 1,797 42.19%

Personal life[edit]

Spencer lives with his wife and their two daughters in Woodbine. They are members of the Harbor Worship Center, a Christian church in Kingsland, Georgia.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Sopan Deb (July 23, 2018). "Georgia Leaders Condemn Jason Spencer, Lawmaker Who Used Slurs on Sacha Baron Cohen Show". New York Times.
  2. ^ "Representative Jason Spencer". www.house.ga.gov. Retrieved 23 July 2018.
  3. ^ Respers France, Lisa. "Georgia lawmaker who came under fire after yelling 'n-word' on 'Who Is America?' says he'll quit". CNN. Cable News Network. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d "Rep. Jason Spencer R-180 Biography" (PDF). www.house.ga.gov. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  5. ^ Jackson, Gordon (August 10, 2010). "Hill falls short in bid for 4th term". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  6. ^ Jackson, Gordon (May 24, 2018). "Spencer loses primary election after four terms". The Brunswick News. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  7. ^ NEWS, THE BRUNSWICK. "State rep. refutes characterization of political career". The Brunswick News. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  8. ^ "Listen to the Scott Ryfun Episode - Scott Ryfun 5-30-18 Hour 3 on iHeartRadio | iHeartRadio. Full interview with Rep. Jason Spencer regarding election loss. May 30, 2018". iHeartRadio. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  9. ^ "Torpy at Large: If lobbyists win, Hidden Predator Act will stay hidden". myajc. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  10. ^ Greg Bluestein, State lawmaker picks a fight over Medicaid 'experiment', Atlanta Journal-Constitution (May 28, 2015).
  11. ^ "The Georgia Healthcare Freedom Act. HB 707/943. Georgia State University Law Review, volume 31, issue 1, Fall 2014. Article 7. December 2014".
  12. ^ Andy Miller, Legislator: Waiver plan still requires legislative OK, Gerogia Health News (May 27, 2015).
  13. ^ "Public Assistance H.B. 990. Georgia State University Law Review. Fall 2014, Volume 31, Issue 1, Article 13. December 2014".
  14. ^ "UGA forced to shutter health insurance navigator program. AJC. Virginia Anderson. September 7, 2014".
  15. ^ Misty Williams, Medicaid expansion: House panel votes to shift power to Legislature, Atlanta Journal-Constitution (February 19, 2014).
  16. ^ On the Record, Atlanta Journal Constitution (March 22, 2014).
  17. ^ "UPDATED: Anti-Obamacare Legislation Killed. Lawmaker Blasts Fellow Republicans". The Brookhaven Post | Brookhaven GA News. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  18. ^ "Georgia lawmaker withdraws bill to restrict burqas". CNN. November 17, 2016.
  19. ^ Gould Sheinin, Aaron (November 16, 2016). "Bill would place restrictions on Muslim burqas, veils in Georgia". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  20. ^ Bever, Lindsey (November 18, 2016). "After outcry, Georgia lawmaker abandons bill that would have banned Muslims from wearing veils". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  21. ^ "After Muslim backlash, Georgia lawmaker drops change to no-mask law". CBS News. November 18, 2016. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  22. ^ Mitchell, Edward Ahmed (January 5, 2017). "Text: CAIR Georgia's Letter To Rep. Jason Spencer After Anti-Muslim Remarks". www.cairgeorgia.com. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  23. ^ "Letter Dec 30, 2016 written by Rep. Jason Spencer to constituent re CAIR/HAMAS. Letter HouseBill3 CAIR Dec302016 redacted.pdf". Google Docs. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  24. ^ Chiaramonte, Perry (2014-11-17). "US group CAIR named terrorist organization by United Arab Emirates". Fox News. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  25. ^ "Foreign Terrorist Organizations". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  26. ^ "United States v Holy Land Foundation, et. al. No. 09-10875; page 2" (PDF).
  27. ^ "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee v. HOLY LAND FOUNDATION FOR RELIEF AND DEVELOPMENT, ET AL, Defendants NORTH AMERICAN ISLAMIC TRUST, Movant-Appellant No. 09-10875 Decided: October 20, 2010".
  28. ^ "Coming Clean About CAIR | National Review". National Review. 2007-08-22. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  29. ^ a b c Respers France, Lisa (July 23, 2018), Georgia lawmaker Jason Spencer is under fire after dropping pants, yelling 'n-word' on 'Who Is America?', CNN, retrieved July 23, 2018
  30. ^ Eberhardt, Robin (August 30, 2017). "Ga. lawmaker: Dem criticizing Confederate monuments could 'go missing'". The Hill. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  31. ^ Shugerman, Emily (August 30, 2017). "Republican politician warns black woman she may 'go missing' for talking about Confederate statues". The Independent. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  32. ^ "About LaDawn Jones".
  33. ^ "Sanders' Ga. Supporters Undeterred, Despite Big Loss. WABE; NPR, MARTHA DALTON • MAR 1, 2016".
  34. ^ Bluestein, Greg (July 22, 2018). "Ga. lawmaker urged to resign after using racial slurs, dropping pants in TV show". The Independent. Retrieved July 22, 2018.
  35. ^ "Ga. lawmaker who used racial slurs in TV show resigns". Retrieved July 25, 2018.
  36. ^ CNN, Lisa Respers France,. "Georgia lawmaker who came under fire after yelling 'n-word' on 'Who Is America?' says he'll quit". Retrieved July 25, 2018.
  37. ^ "Rep. Jason Spencer committee assignments".
  38. ^ "Sunday, February 19, 2012 - 11:00pm Bill Would Legalize Living On Boats. Georgia Public Broadcasting". line feed character in |title= at position 36 (help)
  39. ^ "Flagpole, May 22, 2013. By Blake Aued. Georgia Lawmakers Give Homebrewers a Break. Are Brewpubs Next?".
  40. ^ "How a Georgia case, law paved way for USA Gymnastics doctor's downfall By Alaa Elassar. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. January 26, 2018". line feed character in |title= at position 71 (help)
  41. ^ "Voice of Gratitude Award".
  42. ^ "Georgia lawmakers don't give sex abuse survivors more time to sue. By Ty Tagami. March 30, 2018".
  43. ^ "WTOC Investigates: Failure to pass Hidden Predator Act of 2018. Friday, March 30th 2018".
  44. ^ "Boy Scouts lobby in states to stem the flow of child abuse lawsuits. Washington Post. May 9, 2018".
  45. ^ "Lobbyist for Archdiocese tries to gut childhood sexual abuse bill. By Ty Tagami, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. March 9, 2018".
  46. ^ "HB 1 signed into law. The Brunswick News. Mar 9, 2017".
  47. ^ "Spaceport Camden".
  48. ^ "Official Results of the Tuesday, July 20, 2010 General Primary Election". Georgia Secretary of State. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  49. ^ "Official Results of the Tuesday, August 10, 2010 Primary Election Runoff". Georgia Secretary of State. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  50. ^ "Official Results of the Tuesday, November 02, 2010 General Election". Georgia Secretary of State. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  51. ^ "General Primary/General Nonpartisan/Special Election July 31, 2012". Georgia Secretary of State. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  52. ^ "General Election November 6, 2012". Georgia Secretary of State. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  53. ^ "General Primary/General Nonpartisan/Special Election May 20, 2014". Georgia Secretary of State. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  54. ^ "General Election November 4, 2014". Georgia Secretary of State. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  55. ^ "General Primary and Nonpartisan General Election May 24, 2016". Georgia Secretary of State. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  56. ^ "General Election November 8, 2016". Georgia Secretary of State. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  57. ^ "Georgia Primary Election Results". The New York Times. May 29, 2018. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  58. ^ "Primary Election Results: Georgia State House". Fox 5 Atlanta. July 20, 2018. Retrieved July 26, 2018.

External links[edit]