Originally created 07/01/00

Lawmaker makes plea for GBI aid



State Rep. Robin Williams asked Roy Barnes on Friday to enlist the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to look into allegations by State schools Superintendent Linda Schrenko that he was behind threats made to her.

The governor's spokeswoman, Joselyn Butler, said Mr. Barnes has received a written request but has not had a chance to look into the matter. Richmond County Sheriff Charles Webster on Friday also submitted a request to the GBI for an investigation. Mrs. Schrenko was unavailable for comment.

Mrs. Schrenko did not return several phone calls to her office or home. Her spokeswoman, Amanda Seals, said the superintendent was returning from a conference in California.

Mrs. Schrenko, during her June 23 news conference to endorse fellow Republican Sue Burmeister - Mr. Williams' only opponent in the Republican District 114 primary - said she received a phone call hours before from a "sitting elected official" that threatened to destroy her career and personal life.

At the time, she did not reveal the identity of the caller. But in a recent edition of a local weekly publication, Mrs. Schrenko is quoted as saying Mr. Williams was behind the call.

"Who else would get up and just decide to make a threatening phone call? It's not what you do for fun, I hope," she told the publication.

Mr. Williams, also a Republican, told The Augusta Chronicle on Friday that Mrs. Schrenko made it seem she received a death threat when she told the weekly publication, "So, if I disappear, y'all will know where to look."

"That's what she implies," Mr. Williams said. "That's what she wants people to think."

Mr. Williams denies he made any phone threats and said allegations made by Mrs. Schrenko that his camp was involved must be backed with evidence.

"This is something she is going to have to step up and explain," Mr. Williams said. "She's going to have to tell us who called. She is going to have to tell us when they called. She is going to have to tell us where they called."

Mrs. Schrenko said at the

news conference she would talk with her lawyer before releasing the identify of the caller.

The alleged threats have gone beyond the superintendent. Mrs. Burmeister said at the news conference and is quoted in the same publication as saying she received threats she said she thought came from the Williams campaign.

She told the weekly publication a "close family friend" received a call on the evening of her qualifying and was told Mrs. Burmeister's marriage would be destroyed and she "would be driven out of the state by the time he was done with me."

On Friday, Mrs. Burmeister told The Chronicle that while she would not name the caller at this time, she would cooperate with any investigation and turn over phone records she has documenting the threatening call.

"With the proper authorities, I will turn over my records," she said.

The alleged threats and response from Mr. Williams come as Mr. Barnes' Education Reform Act is put into effect today.

While Mr. Williams and Mrs. Schrenko once were political allies, the two have sparred over the reforms that reduce class sizes in kindergarten to third grade; reward high-performing schools and sanction those not performing up to standards; and create an independent office of accountability for schools.

The legislation is seen by critics of the plan and Mrs. Schrenko as an attempt to take power away from her office. Mrs. Schrenko has allied herself with critics of the bill and has vowed to campaign against Republican legislators who voted for it.

Mr. Williams said the allegations of threats go beyond politics.

"This is outside of politics," he said. "This has hurt my children, my wife, my mother."

Reach Matthew Boedy at (706)-823-3339.