Cherokee PANTS, or People Advocating the Need for Transparent funding of Schools, is asking Georgia Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) to step down as he is an “unacceptable role model for our children and an unacceptable representative for our community.”
The organization said in a news release Thursday it was “greatly embarrassed” by the controversy surrounding allegations of Rogers’ past involvement in the sports handicapper business.
The group is not the first to call for Rogers to resign his post as Senate majority leader. The Georgia Christian Coalition last week also urged the Cherokee Republican to step down from his leadership role.
The PANTS group is going one step further and urging him to resign his seat in the Senate representing Cherokee County as well.
Rogers has denied any involvement in the business beyond being hired to speak lines and maintains he was merely an actor.
“Some 14 years ago, my company had a contract to perform broadcasting duties on a nationally televised show which was aired on the USA Network. … I was reading from a predetermined script on a national sports television show that has been in production for 35 years,” he told the Tribune last month.
The parent group, however, says they are not buying his explanations.
“We reject the explanations offered by Mr. Rogers in defense of his activities as ridiculous,” Carol Taylor said. Taylor is one of the group’s founders. “He has displayed extraordinarily poor judgment, compounded by a refusal to accept responsibility for his actions. His conduct does not reflect the wholesome values of our community.”
According to Fox 5 News, the Tribune’s media partner, Rogers appeared on cable television broadcasts as Will “The Winner” Rogers and other monikers to predict the outcomes of upcoming football games to help sports bettors before he became state Senate majority leader.
A piece by Atlanta Unfiltered’s Jim Walls paints a vivid picture of Rogers as a football handicapper in the early 1990s and as recently as 2000.
On one cable TV show, Rogers allegedly urged bettors to dial a pay-per-call number for his predictions, which he claimed had an 80 percent success rate.
Rogers has said the attacks are just political and he emphatically denies the allegations.
“First, I am not Will the Winner. The name is a fictitious character owned by a company in Alabama. Since the time I was on television 14 years ago a number of other people have used that moniker,” Rogers said in an email in response to the allegations by PANTS. “The only name I have used since birth is Chip Rogers.”
Rogers also points to his record serving Cherokee County.
“I realize my opponents do not wish to debate my record of cutting taxes, reforming Georgia’s property tax system, shrinking the size of government or helping create jobs here in Cherokee County. It is unfortunate that they would be given a platform for dragging political debate to this level,” Rogers said earlier about the reports in the media.
Taylor says the issue for her group is not about charter schools, as Rogers has publicly said, but rather about lack of state funding for the local school system.
“We are hoping to educate the community about what is really going on, people are still not aware of how he has continued to not fund and support our school system by his votes,” Taylor said when asked why her group is calling for Rogers’ resignation. “We are not about charter schools, we don’t care about that issue. This has always been about lack of funding and this has grown bigger as we have seen that they (legislators) are trying to dismantle our public school systems.”
The organization was started this spring with parents from Hickory Flat Elementary over a letter to state Rep. Calvin Hill (R-Hickory Flat) about funding, she said.
“A couple of moms showed up at our principal’s doorstep to find out about what was happening at our school, and then we wrote our state legislators, and then it snowballed,” Taylor said. “We looked at the history, and saw how the delegation with Chip leading way, saying they are giving us more money, when they really are not.”
Taylor, who has two children, both at Hickory Flat, said she and her family moved from DeKalb County to Cherokee County specifically for the schools.
“It makes me angry that a legislator that does not have children in the public system is doing this to us,” Taylor said. “I think it is important that this is not about charters, this is not about that, have as many charters as you want, but fund public schools.”
Taylor said the group is growing as more parents hear about them and want to see something done.
“They are trying to make it about our superintendent,” Taylor said. “He likes to talk about what he has done for the community, but that is where we take issues with his financial dealings. Take issue that the Senate majority leader wants to put himself up there as being for the schools, and we don’t think he is.”