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12th District Republican candidates square off at forum

Posted: July 2, 2012 - 12:41pm  |  Updated: July 2, 2012 - 4:53pm
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Republican candidates Lee Anderson (from left), Wright McLeod, Rick Allen and Maria Sheffield, all of whom are running for the 12th District, prepare to answer a question during a debate at the Columbia County Library.   Sara Caldwell
Sara Caldwell
Republican candidates Lee Anderson (from left), Wright McLeod, Rick Allen and Maria Sheffield, all of whom are running for the 12th District, prepare to answer a question during a debate at the Columbia County Library.

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Trading only a few jabs before a conservative audience in Evans, four Republicans seeking to take on 12th Dis­trict U.S. Rep. John Barrow in November tried to distinguish themselves from one another Saturday.

Evans attorney Wright McLeod accused Augusta businessman Rick Allen of “benefiting from stimulus funding” used for one of his construction projects.

Allen fired back that the mortgages the real estate attorney closes on to “put food on the table” were being bought “every day by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae,” the federal housing agencies.

Allen levied a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission over McLeod’s financial disclosures.

Moderator Phil Kent, a former editorial page editor for The Augus­ta Chronicle, gave state Rep. Lee Anderson a chance to address the role of the Federal Re­serve Bank, which Anderson confused with federal revenues in a Statesboro debate.

“I would believe that they need to be audited annually so that we would know exactly what they are doing,” Anderson said.

Kent asked McLeod to explain why a Republican would vote for Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson in 2008 or make a large contribution to Rob Teilhet, a former Democratic candidate for Georgia attorney general – points raised in earlier debates.

“What’s not being said is that I’ve donated to many, many Republican campaigns,” McLeod said.

Asked about her recent allegation that McLeod was “tracking” her by filming her recent speech to a Republican women’s group, Dublin lawyer Maria Sheffield said she appreciated the other candidates’ unwillingness to seek “gotcha” moments on film to use against one another.

"If someone is behaving that way, I think it’s perfectly OK for me to put it out there,” Sheffield said.

The four candidates drew applause on how they'll address several key issues.

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