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Rep. taped talks with university over job status of ex-girlfriend
Rep. Mark Butler secretly taped conversations with University of West Georgia officials after they fired a lobbyist who was his former girlfriend, the Carrollton Times-Georgian reports.
The university in July eliminated the job of Erin Henderson, Butler’s ex-girlfriend. A few weeks earlier, the four-term Republican told the Carrollton newspaper, West Georgia vice president Michael Ruffner assured him that Henderson would stay in her job and that no major changes were planned for her department.
Butler said he taped that conversation, and a later discussion with university president Beheruz Sethna, because he did not trust them, the Times-Georgian reported.
Once he learned of Henderson’s dismissal, according to media reports, Butler left an angry message with Ruffner’s secretary, who summarized the conversation this way:
[Butler] said Dr. Ruffner had just pissed off the whole political party firing Erin [Henderson]. This includes Speaker of the House, Rules Chairman and Senate … He said ‘tell Dr. Ruffner he can kiss my a–.’ He said, ‘how could he sit across from him at lunch a few weeks ago and say he is not going to make any changes and then fire Erin.’
Henderson, whose job was eliminated July 31, registered as a lobbyist for the University in 2008 and 2009. Records show she spent $3,130 on legislators — primarily for meals — during those two sessions. Butler, a vice chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, was treated to an $11 lunch.
State records list her university salary as $54,750 in fiscal year 2008.
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