Georgia GOP leader threatens Delta over cutting its NRA ties

2018-02-27 10:05
Casey Cagle threatened to prevent Delta Air Lines from getting a lucrative tax cut after the company ended its discount programme with the National Rifle Association. (David Goldman, AP, file)

Casey Cagle threatened to prevent Delta Air Lines from getting a lucrative tax cut after the company ended its discount programme with the National Rifle Association. (David Goldman, AP, file)

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Atlanta - Georgia's lieutenant governor on Monday threatened to prevent Delta Air Lines from getting a lucrative tax cut after the company ended its discount programme with the National Rifle Association, in the latest fallout from a deadly school shooting in Florida.

Delta is part of a growing chorus of businesses cutting ties with the NRA after the Valentine's Day shooting at a Florida high school left 17 people dead.

But now the airline is coming under attack, with Georgia's lieutenant governor threatening a sales tax exemption making its way through the legislature.

READ: School shooting survivors target NRA-linked companies

Republican lieutenant governor Casey Cagle, president of the state Senate and a leading candidate to succeed Governor Nathan Deal, tweeted that he would use his position to sink the proposed sales tax exemption on jet fuel.

"I will kill any tax legislation that benefits @Delta unless the company changes its position and fully reinstates its relationship with @NRA," Cagle tweeted. "Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back."

More than a dozen companies, including Metlife, Hertz, Avis, Enterprise, Best Western, Wyndham and United Airlines have ended NRA partnerships since the school shooting.

Tax overhaul

Police say the suspect, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, gunned down students with an AR-15 assault-style rifle.

On Saturday, both Delta and United said they will no longer offer discounted fares to NRA members to attend their annual meetings, and both have asked the gun rights group to remove any references to their companies from the NRA website.

READ: NRA spokesperson not softening pro-gun stance

One of the school shooting survivors also suggested on Saturday on Twitter that tourists stay away from Florida.

Cagle's comments come as Delta, one of the Georgia's largest employers, appeared close to convincing lawmakers to restore a $50m sales tax exemption on jet fuel. Headquartered in Atlanta, Delta would be the prime beneficiary of the tax cut.

The proposed exemption had been part of Deal's larger tax overhaul, which has passed the House and awaits Senate input.

As the powerful leader of the Senate and one of the top contenders for the governor's office, Cagle would wield considerable power over the future of the jet fuel sales tax exemption in the Senate.

On the other side of the aisle, the communications director for the campaign of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams weighed in, saying that this was proof that Republican leaders are in the pocket of the gun lobby.

"Casey Cagle would sacrifice thousands of jobs, endanger our state's economy, and stick a finger in the eye of a huge employer in our state just to satisfy his buddies at the NRA," Priyanka Mantha said.

'Fear of the NRA'

Another Democrat, Senator Steve Hanson, said Republican leaders had been arguing that the tax cuts were good for business and now were changing their tune.

"Republican fear of the NRA is evidently more important than the Georgia business climate, jobs, or the well-being of Georgia citizens," Henson said.

In its Saturday statement, Delta said it supports the Second Amendment and its decision "reflects the airline's neutral status" in the national debate over guns.

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