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Georgia GOP leader threatens Delta over cutting its NRA ties

Republican Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle tweeted that he would use his position to prevent Delta Air Lines from getting a lucrative tax cut.
/ Source: The Associated Press

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 program 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.

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

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

Image: Casey Cagle
Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle speaks in Atlanta, Georgia.Bob Andres / AP file

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Cagle's comments come as Delta, one of the Georgia's largest employers, appeared close to convincing lawmakers to restore a $50 million 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.