Rep. Earl Ehrhart – the Georgia lawmaker who has trolled sexual assault victims, ridiculed political opponents and mocked LGBT people – has complained to police that he's being harassed through email and social media.
The Republican from Powder Springs asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Capitol police to investigate people who, according to Ehrhart, have left him vulgar messages or threatening social media posts. Via the AJC:
Ehrhart, who once derided the idea of an opponent who didn’t like his bill as a “little snowflake” who would melt at the first sign of confrontation, said the posts go too far and have forced him to take down material that may identify constituents for fear they may also be targeted.
He said he also worried about children reading the material, which in some cases refer to sexual acts or threats of physical violence against him or his family.
It's ironic given Ehrhart's penchant for targeting political opponents from his powerful legislative perch throughout his career as the longest serving Republican in the House.
Ehrhart has called opponents of his campus rape bill "snowflakes," bragged of his aggressive approach to chairing the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees university spending in the sate, and mocked sexual assault victims.
”This is not a micro-aggression. This is a macro-aggressive environment when Earl Ehrhart is chairing the meeting. If you don’t like someone to disagree with you, little snowflake, and you’re going to melt in a fetal position on the floor of my committee room, you can go outside in the hall,” he said. “It’s a public building, but you can’t do it there when adults are having a conversation.”
Recently, a supporter of Rep. Earl Ehrhart’s campus rape cover-up bill told a room full of rape survivors that “the trauma of going through a false accusation…is not unlike the trauma someone experiences when they’re raped.”
Ehrhart himself then backed up these horrifying statements by telling survivors that “this is a macro-aggressive environment. If you feel triggered, trigger somewhere else.”
Over his 28 years in the Georgia House, Ehrhart has also opposed LGBT issues and targeted companies that support LGBT equality. In February, he mocked transgender people from the House floor.
Last year, he called LGBT students at Kennesaw State University a "bigoted, intolerant hate group." And in February 2016, Ehrhart wanted to make sure a sweeping civil rights bill didn't protect transgender people. Via WABE:
“I don’t know that I’m ready to make transgender a protected class because I’m not sure what that means. Is there 'transpecies?' I mean, I’m not being facetious. We’re continuing to add conceptual definitions to that. Things that I don’t even understand,” said Ehrhart.
But lashing out against LGBT issues is, sadly, nothing new for Ehrhart, who has fought equality issues for years.
In 2005, he helped gut an Atlanta non-discrimination ordinance after the city imposed fines on the Druid Hills Golf Club for not granting spousal benefits to the partners of LGBT people.
In 2012, Ehrhart called Bryan Long – the gay executive director of Better Georgia – a "pansy."
In 2013, Ehrhart pushed for the expansion of a state program that allowed people and corporations in Georgia to divert a portion of their state taxes to scholarships for students to attend schools with anti-LGBT policies. He runs an agency that benefits from the student scholarship program and tried again in 2017 to expand the program with House Bill 217. The legislation failed to gain final passage on March 30, the last day of the legislative session.
In 2015, Ehrhart punished Delta Air Lines for opposing an anti-gay "religious freedom" bill a year earlier. Republicans swatted back at the Atlanta-based company by targeting a lucrative fuel tax break that saved Delta about $23 million a year.
In 2016, Ehrhart mustered outrage over the art exhibit "Art AIDS America" during its show at Kennesaw State and criticized a gay professor at the school. Via the Georgia Voice:
State Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs), who chairs the Georgia House committee that funds universities, called the exhibit “sickening” and “a blatant political statement” and threatened the school about having such exhibits in the future, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.
“I’m going to make it real clear, let’s just put it that way. I had a lot of success in getting Tech’s attention in spending taxpayer money on ridiculous things,” said Ehrhart, referring to his criticism of how the Georgia Institute of Technology handles accusations of sexual assault. Ehrhart said when Georgia Tech ignored his requests, he eliminated the university’s request for a $47 million building.
Ehrhart also criticized KSU art professor Robert Sherer, who is known for using unconventional media like HIV-positive blood and whose work is featured in the exhibit:
Ehrhart said painting with infected blood should be against the law.
“I mean, you could infect somebody and kill them with that. Why don’t we just paint with the Ebola virus?” he said.
And he capped it off by saying “a fully loaded porta-potty would be a better artistic expression” than the exhibit at Kennesaw State.
Yet when it comes to his controversial legislation, Ehrhart is audacious enough to try and use the plight of a gay Georgia Tech student to muster support.