Gun Store Owner GOP Congressman Andrew Clyde—He’s Fined $5,000 for Dodging House Metal Detectors February 10, 2021
The very same state can have some of the best federal legislators while at the same time possessing some of the worst. Exhibit A—Georgia. On 1/05/2021 in a runoff, the Peach State elected two strong Democrats, African American Raphael Warnock, the current pastor of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Ebenezer Baptist Church to the U.S. Senate as well as Jon Ossoff. Rev. Warnock becomes GA’s first black Senator, a win for a state formerly steeped in Jim Crow segregationist exclusion and violence against blacks (latimes.com, Jarvie & Hook, 1/07/21). Ossoff also made history by becoming the first Jewish Senator elected from any Deep South State since Reconstruction (nytimes.com, Herndon & Rojas, 1/07/21, latimes.com, Jarvie & Hook, 1/07/21). Ossoff’s win shows the acceptance of GA’s growing Jewish community. In 1915, GA Jews saw the lynching of Leo Frank who was falsely accused of murdering one of his female employees. He was posthumously cleared in 1986. In 1958, the Temple, a prominent Atlanta synagogue, was bombed by white supremacists because its rabbi spoke out for civil rights (“The Jewish Traveler,” Tigay, 1994).
However, in the same election cycle that GA gave these two progressive Democratic Senators surprise victories, that state elected two freshman congressmembers, GOP Marjorie Taylor Greene and Republican Andrew Clyde to open seats in which the incumbent GOPers were not running. Taylor Greene currently represents the heavily GOP Trump 14th Congressional District (CD) in upper northwest GA, one of the safest “Red” seats in the nation with a Cook PVI (Partisan Voting District) R+27 rating (Cohen & Cook 2020 Political Almanac). In the adjacent GA 9th CD, in that state’s upper northeast section, Clyde claimed an easy victory in a district with an even more-ultra “Red” Cook PVI R+31 score (Cohen & Cook 2020).
Both first-term members Taylor Greene and Clyde have already received national notoriety. Cong. Marjorie Taylor Greene is a supporter of the bizarro extremist QAnon group. QAnon members participated in the 1/06/2021 Trump-incited riot on the U.S. Capitol. That assault/attempted coup killed five people, including a Capitol policeman. On 2/04/2021, Cong. Taylor Greene was stripped of her committee appointments to the powerhouse House Education and Budget Committees by a 230-199 vote. The GOP “leadership” had put her on those committees. Just 11 GOPers voted with all the Democrats to remove Taylor Greene from her committees (nytimes.com, Edmondson, Fandos, & Kaplan, 2/04/21, bloomberg.com, House, B. & Wilkins, E., 2/04/21). QAnon Greene had endorsed comments about executing top Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). She called school shooting massacres false flag operations to push gun control, claimed that a space laser controlled by the Jewish Rothschild banking family caused CA wildfires, that no plane hit the Pentagon on 9/11, and that Trump won the 11/2020 election (latimes.com, 2/01/21, Jarvie, J., nytimes.com, 1/31/21, Editorial).
Freshman GA Cong. Clyde has also gone out of his way to be provocative. Cong. Clyde along with Rep. Louie Ghomert (R-TX) have been the first members of Congress to receive $5,000 fines for bypassing newly-installed metal detectors as they entered the House chamber on 2/05/2021. After the attempted Capitol 1/06/2021 coup, House Speaker Pelosi had added these metal detectors for additional security protection. During the first week of 2/2021, the House voted on a rule’s change mandating fines for members if they refuse to follow the new security screening measures. The first offense is a $5,000 fine and the second one is a $10,000 penalty. The fines are deducted directly from congressional salaries by the Chief Administrative Officer (huffpost.com, Papenfuss, 2/06/21, nbcnews.com, Clark, Moe, & Talbot, 2/05/21). Rep. Ghomert has been dubbed by many people as America’s “craziest and dumbest congressman (See newsweek.com, Lemon, 7/30/20).” Now, let’s look at Cong. Clyde.
As previously mentioned, first-term GOP Congressman Andrew Clyde (57) currently represents GA’s 9th Congressional District (CD). The present GA 9th was newly drawn after the 2010 census. It covers the Peach State’s northeast corner and is anchored by the city of Gainesville in Hall County. The GA 9th contains the northern slice of fast-growing Forsyth County and a small part of Athens-based Clarke County. For most of its history, the 9th remained quiet and rural and was even bypassed by Union soldiers during Civil War General William Sherman’s march to the sea. Baseball star Ty Cobb was born in the 9th’s Banks County. Although the 9th basically remains agrarian, interstate highways, vacation homes, and retirement communities have sprung up. Agriculture remains important here with agribusiness having put up huge poultry processors in Hall County around Gainesville (Cohen & Cook 2020 Political Almanac).
Although thousands of Latinos have come from Mexico and other areas to snap up jobs, the 9th remains heavily white. The 9th is the most GOP area in GA and was the third most Republican district in the U.S. after the 2012 and 2016 elections, according to the Cook Political Report. In 2016, Trump took 77% of the 9th ‘s vote (Cohen & Cook 2020).
Andrew Clyde was born in Ontario, Canada to American parents. He was commissioned an officer in the U.S. Navy at Indiana’s Notre Dame University’s NROTC program. He served in the Navy for 28 years in the Seabees and was deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, Panama, and Kuwait. While in the Navy, Clyde earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from IN’s Bethel University and retired with the rank of Commander in 1996 with several medals (fosythnews.com, thehill.com, 11/30/20).
After his retirement, Clyde settled in Athens, GA where he had taught at the Navy Supply Corps School in 1994. In 1999, he earned an MBA from the University of GA (gainsevilletimes.com, 117th Cong. Early Guide, CQ). In 1991, Clyde opened up a gun shop, Clyde Armory, Inc. out of his garage. He successfully expanded this business. In 2005, Clyde moved to a custom built 12,400-square foot edifice. He opened a second gun shop in Warner Robins, GA. He grew the business to $12 million annually in sales and had 30 employees (Reed, M., facebook.com/forsythcountynews,2/27/20, savannahnow.com, AP, 5/29/10, magazine.betheluniversity.edu, 9/24/15).
In 2013, the IRS hit Clyde with a civil asset forfeiture of $940,000 from his gun shop. He was accused by the IRS of “structuring,” or setting up bank deposits in order to avoid reporting to that agency. Clyde fought the charge. He went to D.C. and testified before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight to advocate for civil asset forfeiture reform. The IRS later refunded Clyde $900,000. In 2019, Cong. passed and Trump signed the Clyde-Hirsch-Sowers RESPECT Act. That law changed IRS rules to allow only forfeiture for “structuring” if the money comes from an illegal source or is used to hide illegal activity (onlineathensnews.com, Thompson, J., Reed, facebook.com/forsythcountynews, 2/27/20).
Clyde stated that he had “never intended to run for public office.” However, he added that “this experience (with the IRS) showed me there is a very thin line between ‘We the People’ running our government and our government running us. This is a fight of our lifetime, and I won’t back down (Reed, facebook.com/forsythcountynews, 2/27/20).”
In 2020, four-term GOP 9th CD Cong. Doug Collins unsuccessfully ran in the U.S. Senate primary to replace Sen. Kelly Loeffler. Loeffler later lost to Dem. Raphael Warnock. When Collins did not run again for re-election in the 9th CD, Clyde jumped into the 9-way GOP primary to succeed him. After winning the runoff election, Clyde, in this heavily GOP area and with Trump on the ballot, clobbered his Democratic opponent by a 58% margin (CQ 117th Cong. Early Guide, gainsevilletimes.com).
Cong. Clyde was sworn into the current 117th Congress on 1/03/2021 (gainesvilletimes.com). And Cong. Clyde has not surprised us with his stands and his voting record. Cong. Clyde is “pro-life” (anti-choice) with no exceptions (Vote Smart). Clyde wants, of course, to “dismantle” the IRS. In the meantime, Clyde wants to tax consumption, not put taxes on the production of goods (Vote Smart). A consumption tax would be regressive, keeping middle-and lower-class Americans from buying needed items. Gun store owner Clyde has stellar ratings from the National Rifle Association and the Gun Owners of America (Vote Smart). IMHO, Clyde would rather be fined than go through a metal detector because such security measures, even after the 1/06/2021 Capitol assault, would constitute the beginning of a “slippery slope” leading to gun control. Clyde could care less that many Congressmembers are quite uncomfortable that some of their fellow colleagues still want to “pack heat.” Clyde doesn’t seem to understand that many Congressmembers have horrible memories of fleeing for their lives and hiding during this attack by Trump MAGA/QAnon fanatics.
Cong. Clyde voted along with 198 of his fellow GOPers not to strip bigoted and delusional QAnon Cong. Marjorie Taylor Greene from her House Committees (Clyde Nay, H Res 72, Vote Smart). Even after the violent Trump-inspired coup, when both congressional chambers resumed their count to give Biden his legitimate Electoral College win, Cong. Clyde voted to challenge Arizona’s tally in favor of Biden (ajc.com, Mitchell, T., 1/06/21). And one week later, on 1/13/2021, Rep. Clyde voted against impeaching coup-inciter Demagogue Donald. He claimed that a vote for impeachment “will only increase dissent and disunity across our country, and it flies in the face of all efforts to heal our nation (gainesvilletimes.com, Gill, J., 1/13/21).” Yes, Cong. Clyde let Trump literally get away with killing five people, put congressional lives in danger, and nearly destroyed our democracy. Somehow, our country, without calling Trump to account, is supposed to “forgive all this” and act as if nothing happened. Clyde ridiculously called this second impeachment vote “political retribution” that Democrats were “giddy to pursue (gainsevilletimes.com, 1/13/21).” I wonder how Clyde and his gang of GOP Trump abettors would have voted if Obama or any other Democratic President had made a similar speech and repeatedly called election defeats “rigged.”
Cong. Clyde can probably get re-elected in the “dripping Red” GA 9th. Democrats and moderates must, however, make sure that while he is in Congress, Clyde remains a useless back-bencher, never in the House majority where he can thwart President Biden. To do that, we must vote in droves plus to keep and add seats to the House in midterm 2022.