Feds Sue Former Candidate Michael Rothenberg for Securities Fraud

3
Jul

Feds Sue Former Candidate Michael Rothenberg for Securities Fraud

Originally published at Peach Pundit on June 3, 2011

The AJC reports today on a lawsuit by the Securities and Exchange Commission against Michael Rothenberg, who ranunsuccessfully for DeKalb Superior Court in 2010.

The SEC complaint appears to originate with the same transaction that birthed a federal lawsuit against Rothenberg just before the December 2011 runoff election.

The SEC alleges that Rothenberg transferred $169,o00 of money from defrauded investors to his campaign account. In November, the Fulton Daily Report noted Rothenberg denying having transferred the funds in questions to his campaign.

But long before the November general election, there were other warning signs.

In 2008, Michael Rothenberg announced his candidacy for another seat on the DeKalb Superior Court. Erick Erickson, writing on Peach Pundit challenged Rothenberg’s eligibility. Rothenberg and his Campaign Manager/attorney responded in the comments with their version of his qualifications.

Two days later, Erick published a lengthy analysis and concluded that Rothenberg did not meet the statutory requirements to hold the office of Superior Court Judge at that time. This would not be the last time Rothenberg had no comment.

Rothenberg ultimately withdrew from that race over his qualifications. Erick wished him the best and said “[we] hope to see him run in two years.” Erick’s wish was fulfilled.

On November 18, 2010 the Daily Report ran a story that Rothenberg implied that his campaign was supported by Congressmen Hank Johnson and John Lewis and State Senator Jason Carter. All three of those elected officials denied having endorsed Rothenberg.

On November 29th, the AJC reported that State Representative Mike Jacobs withdrew his personal endorsement of Rothenberg based on concerns over the private lawsuit. That article also reported that DeKalb County Commissioner Elaine Boyer (R-Smokerise) denied having endorsed Rothenberg, despite her picture appearing on Rothenberg’s mailings under the heading “Endorsed By”.

Liz Carter, the Republican Candidate for the Fourth Congressional District, had the day earlier emailed  a number of DeKalb Republicans stating that she had not approved the printed endorsement that Rothenberg attributed to her and was asking people not to vote for Rothenberg in the runoff.

Both DeKalb Libertarians stood by their endorsement of Rothenberg.

After Courtney Johnson won the runoff election with 61% it wasn’t clear how much of her victory could be attributed to the last news cycles of the election.

But precinct-level returns shed some light.

Mike Jacobs’s district comprises eleven precincts in North DeKalb. During early runoff voting, Rothenberg ran the table here, carrying 66% of the vote and all but two of the eleven precincts. On election day, voters gave Courtney Johnson 56% of the vote, a twenty-three point gain over the weekend, and she carried nine of eleven precincts.

Courtney Johnson won the rest of the county handily, approaching 90% in a number of precincts. But it is instructive to view the sea-change in voter sentiment in reaction to a news story about candidate ethics.

Disclaimers: I was a consultant to Mike Jacobs during this drama. On November 1, 2010, I recevied a payment for robocalls from Michael Rothenberg’s campaign. That expenditure appears never to have been disclosed.

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