Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for December 16, 2013

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for December 16, 2013

Today is the 240th Anniversary of the Boston Tea Party.

On December 16, 1773, a group of disgruntled Massachusetts colonists disguised themselves as Mohawk Indians, snuck onto three British ships in Boston harbor, and threw overboard 342 crates of British tea, in an event that would come to be known as the Boston Tea Party.

The midnight raid, popularly known as the “Boston Tea Party,” was in protest of the British Parliament’s Tea Act of 1773, a bill designed to save the faltering East India Company by greatly lowering its tea tax and granting it a virtual monopoly on the American tea trade. The low tax allowed the East India Company to undercut even tea smuggled into America by Dutch traders, and many colonists viewed the act as another example of taxation tyranny.

When three tea ships, the Dartmouth, the Eleanor, and the Beaver, arrived in Boston Harbor, the colonists demanded that the tea be returned to England. After Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hutchinson refused, Patriot leader Samuel Adams organized the “tea party” with about 60 members of the Sons of Liberty, his underground resistance group. The British tea dumped in Boston Harbor on the night of December 16 was valued at some $18,000.

Parliament, outraged by the blatant destruction of British property, enacted the Coercive Acts, also known as the Intolerable Acts, in 1774. The Coercive Acts closed Boston to merchant shipping, established formal British military rule in Massachusetts, made British officials immune to criminal prosecution in America, and required colonists to quarter British troops. The colonists subsequently called the first Continental Congress to consider a united American resistance to the British.

Yesterday celebrated the 222d anniversary of Virginia’s ratification of the Bill of Rights, the first ten Amendments to the Constitution of the United States.

The amendments were designed to protect the basic rights of U.S. citizens, guaranteeing the freedom of speech, press, assembly, and exercise of religion; the right to fair legal procedure and to bear arms; and that powers not delegated to the federal government would be reserved for the states and the people.

Influenced by the English Bill of Rights of 1689, the Bill of Rights was also drawn from Virginia’s Declaration of Rights, drafted by George Mason in 1776. Mason, a native Virginian, was a lifelong champion of individual liberties, and in 1787 he attended the Constitutional Convention and criticized the final document for lacking constitutional protection of basic political rights. In the ratification struggle that followed, Mason and other critics agreed to support the Constitution in exchange for the assurance that amendments would be passed immediately.

On December 15, 1791, Virginia became the 10th of 14 states to approve 10 of the 12 amendments, thus giving the Bill of Rights the two-thirds majority of state ratification necessary to make it legal. Of the two amendments not ratified, the first concerned the population system of representation, while the second prohibited laws varying the payment of congressional members from taking effect until an election intervened. The first of these two amendments was never ratified, while the second was finally ratified more than 200 years later, in 1992.

Voting Rights or Voting Right

Voting begins today in Special Elections for House District 2 and House District 22; Election Day proper is January 7, 2014, the first election of the 2014 Cycle.

The Districts include part or all of Catoosa, Cherokee, Fulton, Walker and Whitfield Counties. Some Advance/Early voting times and locations are available on the website of Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp. If you live in Walker or Whitfield County, I suggest you contact your local board of elections for more information.

If you live in Fulton County, finding out elections dates and times may be the least of your worries. From David Wickert at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

A preliminary investigation report obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says poor planning and bad decisions led to long lines and confusion at some polling places in the November 2012 general election. Among other things, the report claims Fulton failed to hire enough data-entry workers to handle voter registrations, missed deadlines to enter those registrations and failed to properly document or secure the provisional ballots of some 9,600 voters.

The State Election Board on Tuesday will consider the allegations, which could lead to heavy fines against the county if found to be true.

In addition to the problems noted about the 2012 general election, the report cites violations in the July 2012 primary election and says Fulton still hasn’t fully resolved a 2012 incident in which it found hundreds of people registered to vote at addresses that apparently were empty lots.

“Perhaps most troubling is the apparent utter disregard for the security and integrity of practically the entirety of the provisional ballot process,” the report concludes. “Almost 10,000 votes (in the general election) were essentially undocumented or under-documented and under-secured.”

The State Election Board could refer the case to the Attorney General’s Office for further review and possible administrative proceedings and penalties.

The report found at least 11 violations of election rules in the general election, most of them failures to properly document provisional ballots.

It also found at least four violations in its investigation of the July 2012 primary election. Among them: Some voters were assigned to incorrect precincts, including about 350 residents of the Sandy Springs area. As a result, an undetermined number of people may have voted in the wrong election.

Finally, the investigation found Fulton apparently has not resolved 2012 reports that hundreds of voters were registered at addresses where apartment buildings had been demolished.

I’ve said this a few times and have yet to find any takers: why is there no mechanism for greater state involvement by the Secretary of State when a major county appears incapable of holding its own elections?

Jacobs draws challenge in HD 80

Mike Jacobs Primary Twitter

At least that’s what the Twitter machine tells me.

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Steve Golden, President of the Young Democrats of Georgia and thus a State Committee Member for the Democratic Party of Georgia wrote on Facebook:

“If this is the case, Democrats had better field a good candidate. This district isn’t Republican- it’s just held by one.”

“The minute Jacobs isn’t the Republican nominee is the minute y’all lose that seat.”

 

I received an email over the weekend that includes what the writer purports to be an email originating from Catherine Bernard, the rumored challenger to Jacobs: here’s an excerpt,

Thank you – you being a trusted group with impeccable politics and sound discretion – for being willing to be part of the strategy committee for my campaign for House District 80.  We need more liberty in the Georgia legislature, and that means getting people elected who will stand and fight no matter what.  That’s definitely me!

The official campaign announcement won’t come until early 2014, but there’s a lot to prepare before then: logos, push cards, website content, mailers.  Your help is desperately needed to make all that content awesome before it starts going out to HD80 voters in January: brainstorming, editing, vetoing, etc. Hopefully, the group is large enough that providing email feedback won’t be a burden on anyone, since there’s no expectation that everyone has to chime in on everything – please feel free to respond when you can, with the recognition that we all have other obligations and projects.*

Our first meeting will be tomorrow, Sunday, November 24th, from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. at my house in Brookhaven, [address redacted].  Steven and I will be going over some of the graphic design work that he’s done so far (he’s working on a campaign logo) and the content/phrases that I’ve been working on for the pushcard and website.  Everyone else is invited and welcome to attend, but we’ll be sending out an email afterward to solicit feedback in a way that’s easier for those who live outside Atlanta and/or have family stuff going on.

Thanks again, everyone.  It’s going to be a great 2014.

In liberty,
Catherine
[phone number redacted]

Right to a fair trial

The trial of (suspended) Senator Don Balfour on an eighteen count indictment alleging theft by taking through turning in false expense and reimbursement forms opens today in Fulton County Superior Court. From MyAJC.com

Under the law, prosecutors must prove that Balfour, once one of the state’s most powerful Republicans, purposely tried to defraud the state.

“Don is looking forward to having this behind him so that he can go back to doing what the people of his district elected him to do, and that is serve their interests in the Georgia General Assembly,” said Balfour’s lead attorney, Ken Hodges. “There was never any intent to submit inaccurate reimbursement requests … Don has admitted the mistakes and regrets them.”

Balfour, who has an accounting degree, is charged with 18 felony counts related to filing false expense claims. A grand jury indicted him in September on allegations that he charged the state for expenses on days he did not incur those expenses. If convicted on all counts, Balfour would face up to 10 years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. He also would lose his seat in the Senate.

State Attorney General Sam Olens’ office is prosecuting the case. Through a spokeswoman, Olens declined to comment, although members of his staff have indicated they, too, will simplify their strategy: A person may not have meant to break the law, but that doesn’t give him a free pass.

William Hill Jr., a member of Balfour’s defense team, hinted at the defense’s strategy after a motions hearing last week. Balfour is a busy man who made a mistake, he said.

“Mr. Balfour, like a lot of us, rather than submitting your expense vouchers the very next morning when you walk in and hand them to your secretary, it was about two and three months later,” Hill said. “He’s looking at his calendar and trying to remember where he was and what he was doing.”

Hill acknowledged that Balfour was wrong. But he said the senator wasn’t trying to break the law; he just made a mistake, Hill said, as anyone could.

“He admits he could have been more diligent and he could have been more attentive,” he said. “Like most people, he is doing a hundred things at a time.”

This “mistakes were made” defense is important because Balfour’s state of mind is crucial to a conviction. Sixteen of the eighteen charges accuse the senator of “making a false certificate,” a charge stemming from a law specifically regulating the expenses of state legislators. The law holds that lawmakers caught submitting a false report face up to five years in prison, provided they filed the report “knowing it to be false.”

It’s the requirement that Balfour’s intent be proven to sustain convictions on sixteen of the charges that leads me to believe he is likely to be acquitted on at least those charges.

Also soon to begin exercise of some of his rights under the Bill of Rights by defending himself in criminal court is (suspended) DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis. His lawyers have an interesting theory: Ellis is being persecuted (and prosecuted) because District Attorney Robert James and acting CEO Lee May are his political rivals.

A trial is expected next year. But Ellis’ lawyers want the judge to dismiss the indictment or disqualify James’ office from trying the case because of what they allege is James’ personal dislike of the suspended CEO.

Their evidence? Records showing James and May used county workers to solicit county vendors to pay for the 2013 Senior Ball for DeKalb residents.

If Ellis broke the law in using county workers to help him raise campaign funds, then James and May did the same regarding the Senior Ball, Ellis’ attorneys argue.

While folks inside government don’t buy that the difference is merely political, residents who will make up the jury pool just might.

Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill was cleared on all 27 felony charges against him by making a similar claim in his racketeering and theft trial earlier this year.

 

Right of Peaceful Assembly

As always, we may be wrong in our Calendar postings and suggest you independently verify an event and any associated costs before leaving to attend.


Rep. Doug Collins: Community Christmas Celebration

December 16, 2013, 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM

Babyland General Hospital, 300 NOK Dr Cleveland , GA 30528 United States

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Christmastime is a great opportunity to celebrate with friends and family – to recall the accomplishments of the year gone by and look forward to what the new year will bring. I hope you will be able to take some time out of this busy season to celebrate with me! I’m hosting a Community Christmas Celebration on Monday, December 16 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. This event will be held at Babyland General Hospital (300 N.O.K. Drive, Cleveland, GA). Admission free, but we’re encouraging everyone to bring an unwrapped toy for donation. If you can join us, kindly send a quick RSVP toyallcome@collinsleads.com.


Rep. Michael Caldwell & Rep. Scot Turner Joint Fundraiser with Congressman Tom Graves

December 17, 2013, 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM

Towne Lake Hills Golf Club, 1003 Towne Lake Hls E Woodstock, GA 30189 United States

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Join Representative Michael Caldwell and Representative Scot Turner for a joint fundraiser to support them in their reelection campaigns. Congressman Tom Graveswill be our guest speaker for the evening. Should be a great event!


Bartow County TEA Party: Meeting with Barry Loudermilk

December 17, 2013, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM

Bartow GOP HQ, 162 West Main St Cartersville , GA 30120 United States

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Our December Meeting will be a combination of Celebrating with some Christmas Cheer and light snacks plus having Barry Loudermilk, our Guest Speaker. Barry is running for the 11th Congressional seat as our next US Congressman in the 11th District. We also have some December Birthdays to celebrate as well including the Birth of Jesus. The true Reason for the Season! If you would like to bring a snack or dessert of some kind, please do so. Let me know…

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Buckhead YR: Meeting with Eugene Yu

December 17, 2013, 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Taco Mac Lindbergh Station, 73 Main St NE Atlanta , 30324

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Cobb GOP HD 43: Event with GA GOP Chair John Padgett

December 17, 2013, 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Sterling Estates, 4220 Lower Roswell Road Marietta , GA 30068 United States

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Gwinnett Teen GOP: Meeting

December 17, 2013 7:30 PM @ 7:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Gwinnett GOP HQ, 46 South Clayton Street Lawrenceville, 30045

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Gwinnett Teen Republicans Meeting Speakers: TBA

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Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce: Pre-Legislative Session Luncheon

December 18, 2013, Noon to 1:00 PM

Forsyth County Conference Center, 3410 Ronald Reagan Blvd Cumming , GA 30041 United States

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Event Description: Pre-Legislative Session Luncheon Presented by: Jointly Hosted by: The Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce and The South Forysth Rotary Club Join us for lunch as we discuss issues that are important to Cumming-Forsyth County business leaders State Senator Steve Gooch State Senator Jack Murphy Representative Mike Dudgeon Representative Geoff Duncan Representative Mark Hamilton Representative Kevin Tanner $15 Members; $30 Non-Members *All attendees with the exception of South Forsyth Rotary Members register through the Chamber Register here

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Gwinnett GOP: 12 Kids of Christmas

December 19, 2013, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Gwinnett County GOP HQ, 46 South Clayton Street Lawrenceville, 30045

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12 Kids of Christmas In the spirit of the Holiday Season, the Gwinnett GOP is adopting 12 children who are currently under the supervision of the Gwinnett Division of Family and Children Services. We don’t need to tell you that without the help and assistance of folks like you, many of these children will not have gifts at Christmas. And so, we are asking your help to make sure these 12 kids know the spirit of Santa is alive and well…

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Forsyth County GOP: State House District 22 Special Election Candidate Forum

December 19, 2013, 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Fowler Park – Community Meeting Room , 4110 Carolene Way Cumming , GA 30040 United States

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Forsyth County Republicans will host a candidate forum on December 19 for the State House District 22 Special Election. All four candidates in this race have agreed to participate in the candidate forum, including Meagan Biello, Nate Cochran, Jeff Duncan and Sam Moore. Each candidate will be given a chance to speak. We will also take questions from the audience. December 19th County voters to evaluate all four candidates side by side. State House District 22 covers portions of Cherokee, Forsyth…

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Ahavath Achim Synagogue: Ambassador of Israel to the United States, The Honorable Ron Dermer

December 19, 2013, 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM

Ahavath Achim Synagogue, 600 Peachtree Battle Avenue N.W. Atlanta , GA 30327

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Join us for The Fran Eizenstat and Eizenstat Family Lecture featuring Ambassador of Israel to the United States, The Honorable Ron Dermer. Free & Open to the Public. RSVP is requested. Contact Ahavath Achim Synagogue (Atlanta, GA) for additional questions at www.AASynagogue.org or 404.355.5222

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Columbia County Republican Party: Christmas Party

December 20, 2013, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

West Lake, 3556 W Lake Dr Martinez , GA 30907 United States

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Columbia County Republican Party Annual Christmas Party Live Music & Cash Bar Heavy Hors d’oeuvres RSVP by December 13th. Tickets may be purchased online.  Payments can be mailed to the CCRP.

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