New Georgia House member steps aside after drug arrest

January 1, 2023 GMT

WINDER, Ga. (AP) — A Republican arrested after winning his race for a seat in the Georgia House has decided to step aside instead of facing a possible suspension as soon as he was sworn into office later this month,

The decision by Danny Rampey means a special election will be held on Jan. 31 to choose the new representative for the House seat based around Winder, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Rampey, 67, was arrested last month after investigators said he stole prescription narcotics at the retirement complex he manages.

Republican leaders were pressuring Rampey to step aside before new legislators are sworn in on Jan. 9 because the special election to fill the seat would only be for Republicans since Rampey didn’t have a Democratic opponent in November’s election.

Rampey’s withdrawal ”will ensure his constituents have a voice in this session of the General Assembly after the special election is held,” said House Speaker Jan Jones and incoming House Speaker Jon Burns in a joint statement to the newspaper.

The newspaper couldn’t reach Rampey’s attorney.

Rampey was charged in Barrow County with six counts of obtaining drugs by misrepresentation or theft, six counts of exploiting an elder or disabled adult, five counts of burglary and one count of drug possession.

Rampey and his family own a chain of personal care homes in northeast Georgia. Authorities said they began investigating him after missing prescription narcotics were reported.