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Interview with Doug Teper, May 9, 2012

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:29 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: I'm Bob Short, and this is Reflections on Georgia Politics, sponsored by the Richard Russell Library at the University of Georgia and Young Harris College.

Segment Synopsis: Interviewer Bob Short introduces interviewee Doug Teper.

00:01:05 - Early life / Run for Student Government Association at UGA

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Partial Transcript: Let's get started by talking about your early life growing up in Atlanta.

Segment Synopsis: Teper speaks about his upbringing in then-suburban DeKalb County and his first political race running for the Student Government Association at UGA, where he lost the election and joined a movement to disband the SGA.

Keywords: Atlanta City Schools; Atlanta County Schools; Atlanta metropolitan area; Brewmasters Club; Briarcliff High School; Contractor; DeKalb County, Georgia; Environmentalist; Georgia Baptist Hospital; Harold Mulherin; Herman Talmadge; Referendum; SGA; Small business; Student senate; Surburban Atlanta; The Gong Show; The Unknown Comic; University of Georgia

00:07:46 - Early work in Georgia politics

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Partial Transcript: I believe you ran for Congress as a young man also.

Segment Synopsis: Before segueing into a conversation about his own political run, Teper discusses his early work lobbying against Georgia Power and working on the campaigns of Judy Barrow and Billy Lovett.

00:12:47 - First run for U.S. Congress

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Partial Transcript: But, that, that gears us up--you asked me about running for office.

Segment Synopsis: Teper reveals how working on the Gary Hart campaign during the 1984 elections energized him to run for U.S. Congress in Georgia.

Keywords: 10th Congressional District; Alaska National Wilderness Preserve; Athens, GA; Augusta, Georgia; CNN; Doug Barnard; Georgia press secretary; James Carville; League of Conservation Voters; New Hampshire; Paul Begala; Super Tuesday; U.S. Congress; Walter Mondale; Washington National Airport

00:15:42 - Run for a seat in the Georgia legislature

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Partial Transcript: Let's move up to 1988--that's the year you ran for the General Assembly.

Segment Synopsis: Teper describes working on behalf of various environmental causes in Washington, D.C. prior to deciding to run--against the advice of several political insiders--for a position in the Georgia General Assembly, which he ultimately won in a run-off against his neighbor.

Keywords: Bernard Cox; Bill Bates; Campaign committee; Campaign manager; Capitol Hill; Cathy Steinberg; Decatur Federal Savings Bank; Democratic primary; Environmental Policy Institute; Environmental activism; Holly Bates; Jim Coonan; John Lewis; Julian Bond; Leanna Levitan; Manuel Maloof; Mary-Margaret Oliver; Richard B. Russell; Robin Harris; U.S. Public Interest Research Group; Union of Concerned Scientists; Wyche Fowler

00:21:22 - Teper's congressional district / The Four Horsemen

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Partial Transcript: Describe your constituency for us, your district.

Segment Synopsis: Teper states that he represents one of the most ethnically diverse regions in the Southeast, and tells of banding together with three other liberal Congressmen, forming what would become known as the "Four Horsemen."

Keywords: Andy Young; Archie Bunker; Asian-Americans; Buford Highway; Conservative; Cuban-Americans; Curtis Jenkins; Eastern Orthodox church; Education; Emory University; Equal Rights Amendment; Ethnic diversity; Georgia Technical College; Greek-Americans; Hasidic Jews; Hasidim; Health care; Hispanic-Americans; Jimmy Carter; Judaism; Liberal; McCracken Poston; Meathead; Orthodox Jews; Ray Hollen; Refugees; Republican National Convention; Ron Fennel; Sabbath; South Americans; Southeastern United States; Steve Henson; Synagogue; United Nations; Young Democrats; Zell Miller

00:29:14 - Oil industry lobby in the Georgia House

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Partial Transcript: Was that the same as the Democratic Reform Caucus?

Segment Synopsis: Teper speaks about being courted by oil industry lobbyists in his first term in Congress, when a bill to prohibit oil refinery operations from opening retail gas stations was introduced.

Keywords: Freshman congressman; Full Employment Act; Gas industry; Gas stations; Industry committee; John Murphy; Natural resources and environment committee; Petroleum industry; Retail divorcement; Rural Georgia; Small business subcommittee; Sonny Watson; Speaker of the House

00:36:21 - Ethics complaint against Speaker Murphy

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Partial Transcript: On one occasion, the Four Housemen filed an ethics complaint against the Speaker; why?

Segment Synopsis: Teper describes some of the Four Horsemen's work on ethics reform, including a conflict that resulted in an ethics complaint against the Speaker of the House, who had allegedly threatened to reduce funding to a political opponent.

Keywords: Attorney General; Citizen legislature; Democratic Reform Caucus; Dubose Porter; Early bill introduction; Ethics committee; Ethics reform; Hollen Manifesto; Industry committee; Lobbying disclosure; Sam Watson; Sex crimes; Sex registry

00:44:09 - The Innkeeper's Notification Bill

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Partial Transcript: Let's talk about your legislation.

Segment Synopsis: Teper tells of introducing a tongue-in-cheek bill to enforce Georgia's sexual morality laws in hotels, which landed him a spot on Sean Hannity's talk show.

00:51:05 - Bill to introduce the Guillotine to the Georgia prison system

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Partial Transcript: A couple years later I had a friend who was the mayor of Decatur, Mike Mears...

Segment Synopsis: Teper details another facetious bill he introduced to have Georgia's method of execution changed from lethal injection to guillotine in order to preserve prisoners' organs for donation.

Keywords: Atlanta Constitution; Death Row; Electric chair; Execution; Guillotine; HBCU; Historically Black College; Larry Lonchar; Lethal injection; Organ donation; Rhonda Cook; Stay of execution; U.S. Marines

00:55:17 - Other political actions / Redistricting in DeKalb County

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Partial Transcript: What are some of the other bills you sponsored?

Segment Synopsis: Teper discusses some of the other bills he worked for and against in Congress, and tells of redistricting DeKalb County to take away power from Councilman Hosea Williams--who had a reputation for ineffectiveness--with the assistance of Williams' own wife.

Keywords: Atlanta City Council; Civil Rights Movement; Conservation; Dams; DeKalb County Commission; Environmental bills; Georgia Regional Reservoir Act; Georgia Regional Transportation Authority; Hosea Williams; Juanita Williams; MARTA; Redistricting; Thurbert Baker; Transit bills; Tucker, Georgia; Water wars

01:02:14 - Voting against a hunting rights act

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Partial Transcript: I want you to tell us about snipe hunting

Segment Synopsis: Teper recalls telling a political reporter that he voted against a voting rights act due to concerns on snipe hunting, a practical joke akin to a wild goose chase.

Keywords: Bob Lane; Humor; Hunting license; Hunting rights; Practical joke; Statesboro, Georgia

01:04:50 - Federal office fundraising lawsuit

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Partial Transcript: Somewhere along the line you again looked at running for Congress, and then you sued the state.

Segment Synopsis: Teper discusses filing a lawsuit to prohibit the state from preventing state legislators from raising funds for federal campaigns while in office, which he ultimately won after a contested judicial decision.

Keywords: Congressional seat; Elections; Ethics wars; Federal District Court; Federal lawsuit; Fundraising; Max Cleland; Ringgold, Georgia; Teper v. Miller; U.S. Court of Appeals

01:08:24 - Leaving the Georgia legislature

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Partial Transcript: After sixteen years you called it quits: tired or reapportioned?

Segment Synopsis: Teper describes various jobs he held outside of political office, from pouring concrete to consulting, and tells of deciding to leave office in order to pursue a more lucrative career; he also tells of becoming involved in a film production after leaving office.

Keywords: Academy Award; Adel, Georgia; Arkansas; Capricorn Films; Capricorn Records; Celebrities; China; Consulting; Dating; Film festival; Film industry; Foundations; Lisa Blount; Lithia Springs, Georgia; Networking; Phil Waldon; Political office; Privilege Resolution; Public service; Ray McKinnon; Sports figures; Sundance Film Festival; THE ACCOUNTANT (film); The Kennedys; The Middle East; The Rockefellers; Walt Goggins; Wealth

01:16:49 - Employment in Iraq

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Partial Transcript: I got a little frustrated, I didn't know what to do, I started applying for jobs all over the country...

Segment Synopsis: Teper tells of his difficulty finding work after retiring from the Georgia legislature, and eventual success landing a job as a government contractor and State Department employee in Iraq.

Keywords: Albanian; American Embassy; Anti-aircraft guns; Baghdad; Body armor; C-130; China; Condaleeza Rice; Cuba; East Berlin; FBI; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Fiscal clearance; Foreign Service Institute; George W. Bush; Iowa City, Iowa; Iraq; Job search; Jordan; Kate Head; Kirkuk, Iraq; Kosovo; Michael Coles; NGO; Newly emerging democracies; Newt Gingrich; Non-governmental organization; Overseas travel; Paperwork; Politics; Provincial Reconstruction Teams; Security clearance; Serbia; Speeding ticket; State Department

01:24:36 - Iraq's Provincial Reconstruction Teams

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Partial Transcript: Tell me about what you did there.

Segment Synopsis: Teper describes the often dangerous working conditions in Iraq and the details of his job, which was focused on re-building Iraq following destruction of areas by either U.S. or Iraqi forces.

Keywords: Acronyms; Bunkers; CHU; Containerized Housing Unit; FOB; Foreign Operating Base; Foreign Service Officer; Health service; IEDs; Improved Explosive Devices; Kurdish community; Kurds; Lieutenant Colonel; Life support; Military; OpSec; Operation Security; PPE; Personal Protective Equipment; Provincial Council; Re-building; Saddam Hussein

01:30:45 - Progress in Iraq

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Partial Transcript: Are their public officials elected?

Segment Synopsis: Teper explains some of the changes that took place in Iraq during his time there, explaining that democratic elections have taken place in most provinces, though he indicates that not all changes have been positive.

Keywords: Ally; Clans; Iran; Parliament; Terrorism; Terrorist; Tribal leaders; Tribes; Violence; Voting list

01:34:05 - Legacy of Teper and the Four Horsemen

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Partial Transcript: Let me read and ask your comments on a privileged resolution passed the Georgia General Assembly...

Segment Synopsis: Teper reflects on his legacy as both an individual member of the Georgia Legislature and as a member of a reform caucus, recognizing that he stepped on some toes during his time.

Keywords: Ambition; Atlanta Constitution; Atlanta Journal; Business; Culture; Customs; Highways; Industry; Joe Frank Harris; Partisanship; Political ideology; Political reform; Progress; Road works; Rodney Dangerfield; Rural Georgia; Transition; Urban Georgia; Zell Miller

01:39:56 - Greatest political achievements and disappointments

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Partial Transcript: Sixteen years: what were your greatest accomplishments?

Segment Synopsis: Teper discusses what he considers his greatest accomplishment in office--being part of a reform committee--and his personal disappointment in not holding statewide office.

Keywords: Bi-partisan; Demographics; Institutional adaptation; Journalism; Local legislation; News reporting; Partisanship; Public Safety; Roy Barnes; Rules committee; Statewide office; U.S. Congress; War on Terrorism Local Assistance Act

01:45:38 - Personal and political influences

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Partial Transcript: Well, Doug, as I said, you are a very interesting fella.

Segment Synopsis: Teper discusses some of the individuals who have influenced his career.

Keywords: Charles L. Weltner; City Hall; Civil Rights Movement; Hero; Humor; Ivan Allen Jr.; John Lewis; Parents; Wyche Fowler

01:47:57 - Conclusion

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Partial Transcript: Thank you, Doug Teper.

Segment Synopsis: Short and Teper conclude the interview.