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Atlanta Hawks owner Tony Ressler calls Georgia heartbeat bill political malpractice

Tony Ressler Atlanta Hawks owner Tony Ressler talks on CNBC's Squawk Box about Georgia's anti-abortion legislation (Photo of CNBC broadcast)

By Maria Saporta

Tony Ressler, the majority owner of the Atlanta Hawks, said Georgia’s passage of the anti-abortion “heartbeat bill” was “really bad business” for the state.

Ressler was asked about the anti-abortion bill that passed the legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp during an interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin of CNBC during Squawk Box Friday morning. Sorkin was broadcasting segments of the show from Atlanta at the annual HOPE Global Forum held at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta.

Ressler said Georgia has spent the past 10 to 15 years working hard to recruit the film and entertainment business to Georgia, an industry that has now become of the largest employers in the state.

Georgia also has been named as the best state in which to do business by Site Selection Magazine for the last six years in a row.

But Ressler questioned whether the heartbeat bill was in keeping with Georgia’s reputation.

“We had a governor that ran on being incredibly friendly to business, incredibly supportive to business,” Ressler said of Kemp. But then he quickly added that the abortion bill likely would hurt Georgia’s film and entertainment industry.

Tony Ressler CNBC

Tony Ressler being interviewed by Andrew Ross Sorkin on CNBC’s Squawk Box in Atlanta during HOPE Global Forum (Photo taken from the CNBC broadcast)

Ressler, who is from Los Angeles and runs Ares Management – a private equity firm that has $130 billion under management, questioned the governor’s decision to take on a “liberal industry” that has become so critical to Georgia’s economy – knowing full well that a pro-choice policy is an important issue to the film industry.

“In my view, it’s literally political malpractice to poke in the eye one of the largest industries that employs your population after spending 15 years attracting them in any way possible led by tax incentives,” Ressler told CNBC’s Sorkin.

“So how can you say you’re business-friendly and yet go after one of your biggest employers?” Ressler asked rhetorically. “So I’d say it’s really bad business. I guess it’s a diplomatic way of avoiding the actual social and political issue. But it really is bad business if you think about it.”

Atlanta Hawks co-owner Tony Ressler on Georgia’s new abortion law from CNBC.

Global Hope Forum Ressler

Atlanta Hawks owner Tony Ressler with Rapper-entrepreneur TI and Operation HOPE’s John Hope Bryant during the 2019 Global HOPE Forum in Atlanta (Photo by Maria Saporta)

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.


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  1. Chris Johnston June 3, 2019 11:36 pm

    Many things are more important than Mr. Ressler and his basketball team, and this law is one of them. Mr. Ressler’s opinion has no more value than any other citizen’s opinion.Report

    1. Wormser Hats June 5, 2019 10:00 am

      ..not according to the SCOTUS in Citizens United.Report

      1. Chris Johnston June 5, 2019 8:33 pm

        Is Ressler paying you? LOLReport


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