In what might be the most shocking news in recent weeks, a prominent Republican lawmaker died — and no one really knows what happened.
Republican State House Representative Jay Powell was found dead Tuesday morning at a resort in the state, according to Channel 2’s Aaron Diamant.
Powell’s death was unexpected and is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigations in Georgia.
The cause of death for the 67-year-old lawmaker is still unknown, which has only fueled suspicions.
Reports are suggesting that he actually died late on Monday night, and that he was not found until Tuesday.
Powell, who has been in office since 2008, was the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and also sat on several other committees.
He’s also considered one of the most influential lawmakers in Georgia given he is liked and respected by so many on both sides of the political aisle.
The chairman of the influential Georgia House Rules Committee, state Rep. Jay Powell, died during a retreat of legislative leaders Monday at Brasstown Valley Resort. He was 67. #gapol https://t.co/UKuV8BWmGl
— Greg Bluestein (@bluestein) November 26, 2019
Several lawmakers and prominent political figures from the state have spoken very highly of Powell following his tragic death.
“He was a champion for rural Georgia, that was his heart and passion. He was known as an expert in tax policy, and he used that expertise to boost rural Georgia,” said Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s political reporter Greg Bluestein.
GOP Governor Brian Kemp released a statement on Powell’s death.
“Chairman Powell was a trusted leader and compassionate public servant whose work positively impacted countless people’s lives over the years. His loss is devastating to Georgia. The Kemp family asks everyone to lift up Jay’s loved ones, friends, and fellow legislators in prayer as they try to grapple with this tragedy,” Kemp said.
Republican House Speaker David Ralston also reacted to Powell’s death.
“This loss touches us all and leaves a hole in our hearts and in the heart of our House family,” said Ralston. “Jay Powell served with integrity and his leadership truly moved Georgia forward.”
Powell was the chairman of the powerful tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.
“Basically, without Jay Powell’s support, no legislation got to Governor Kemp’s desk, so you needed his sign-off in order to get a vote in the House, in order to get huge measures passed,” Bluestein said.
He also served on the Governmental Affairs, Judiciary, Rules, and MARTOC committees.
Tributes to Powell also came from top Democrats.
“Chairman Powell treated everyone with kindness and respect,” said state Rep. Scott Holcomb, a Democrat from Atlanta. “He tried to find common ground and he deeply cared about our state and its people. His loss is crushing for the House.”
“Words cannot convey the immense respect I have for Chairman Jay Powell,” said House Minority Leader Bob Trammell.
And former House colleague Stacey Abrams tweeted, “He cared about community and getting good done.”