Herschel Walker latest to get flagged for campaign filing omission as Georgia Senate race heats up

Republican senate candidate Herschel Walker is once again facing scrutiny over a finance disclosure originally filed in December, and a left-leaning political action committee is renewing its call for an investigation.

End Citizens United asked the U.S. Department of Justice in April to investigate whether Walker broke the law in a report they said omitted required funding sources.

The next month, Walker updated his filing, bringing his reported earned and non-investment income from about $925,000 to about $4.1 million with the addition of $3.2 million from H. Walker Enterprises.

On Monday, the group wrote a second letter to the justice department alleging that irregularities still have not been cleared up.

End Citizens United alleges Walker did not properly report that $3.2 million in the amended report and failed to properly disclose more than $680,000 he received for 17 speeches between July 2020 and December 2021.

That seems suspicious, said Tiffany Muller, President of End Citizens United.

“When ECU filed that first motion, Walker claimed he’d done everything by the book. But yet, just three weeks later, he revealed that he conveniently forgot to properly disclose $3 million in earnings. And even after getting caught and refiling his financial disclosure, we discovered he’s still hiding the truth from Georgians. He just can’t be honest. He’s still not reporting the many sources of that $3 million, which clients he got it from, what he did for that money, and what financial relationships he maintains with those clients to this day. $3 million. That’s not money you easily forget, unless you’re trying to hide something.”

The Walker campaign dismissed the letter as an election-year ploy.

“We made the technical revisions for the Senate Ethics Committee. This is a desperate attempt to talk about any number other than 9.1%,” said campaign spokeswoman Mallory Blount, referring to the historically high June inflation number announced by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Wednesday.

“This is also rich coming from (Democratic Sen.) Raphael Warnock who just got caught using his campaign account as a piggy bank to pay for his personal expenses – like the professional Washington insider he is,” Blount added, referring to a Politico report suggesting that Warnock broke spending rules by using campaign money to pay for legal expenses that arose before his time in office. Warnock’s campaign says the spending did not break the rules.

The dueling allegations over filing omissions are typical for a high-stakes campaign that is likely to be one of the country’s closest and most important Senate races of November’s election – Warnock supporters are hoping to draw attention to Walker’s weird lies and strange behavior and Walker supporters hope to make the race a referendum on the economy and inflation.

In the latest poll, an AARP survey conducted between July 5 and 11, Warnock leads Walker 50% to 47% among likely voters, outpacing the other Democrat at the top of the ticket, Stacey Abrams, who trailed Republican Gov. Brian Kemp 52% to 45%.


Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Georgia Recorder maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John McCosh for questions: info@georgiarecorder.com. Follow Georgia Recorder on Facebook and Twitter.

Herschel Walker gets flagged for campaign filing omission as Georgia Senate race heats up

Republican senate candidate Herschel Walker is once again facing scrutiny over a finance disclosure originally filed in December, and a left-leaning political action committee is renewing its call for an investigation.

End Citizens United asked the U.S. Department of Justice in April to investigate whether Walker broke the law in a report they said omitted required funding sources.

The next month, Walker updated his filing, bringing his reported earned and non-investment income from about $925,000 to about $4.1 million with the addition of $3.2 million from H. Walker Enterprises.

On Monday, the group wrote a second letter to the justice department alleging that irregularities still have not been cleared up.

End Citizens United alleges Walker did not properly report that $3.2 million in the amended report and failed to properly disclose more than $680,000 he received for 17 speeches between July 2020 and December 2021.

That seems suspicious, said Tiffany Muller, President of End Citizens United.

“When ECU filed that first motion, Walker claimed he’d done everything by the book. But yet, just three weeks later, he revealed that he conveniently forgot to properly disclose $3 million in earnings. And even after getting caught and refiling his financial disclosure, we discovered he’s still hiding the truth from Georgians. He just can’t be honest. He’s still not reporting the many sources of that $3 million, which clients he got it from, what he did for that money, and what financial relationships he maintains with those clients to this day. $3 million. That’s not money you easily forget, unless you’re trying to hide something.”

The Walker campaign dismissed the letter as an election-year ploy.

“We made the technical revisions for the Senate Ethics Committee. This is a desperate attempt to talk about any number other than 9.1%,” said campaign spokeswoman Mallory Blount, referring to the historically high June inflation number announced by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Wednesday.

“This is also rich coming from (Democratic Sen.) Raphael Warnock who just got caught using his campaign account as a piggy bank to pay for his personal expenses – like the professional Washington insider he is,” Blount added, referring to a Politico report suggesting that Warnock broke spending rules by using campaign money to pay for legal expenses that arose before his time in office. Warnock’s campaign says the spending did not break the rules.

The dueling allegations over filing omissions are typical for a high-stakes campaign that is likely to be one of the country’s closest and most important Senate races of November’s election – Warnock supporters are hoping to draw attention to Walker’s weird lies and strange behavior and Walker supporters hope to make the race a referendum on the economy and inflation.

In the latest poll, an AARP survey conducted between July 5 and 11, Warnock leads Walker 50% to 47% among likely voters, outpacing the other Democrat at the top of the ticket, Stacey Abrams, who trailed Republican Gov. Brian Kemp 52% to 45%.

Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Georgia Recorder maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John McCosh for questions: info@georgiarecorder.com. Follow Georgia Recorder on Facebook and Twitter.

Authorities investigate explosion that destroyed ‘America’s Stonehenge’

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating an explosion that destroyed much of the Georgia Guidestones, a quirky granite monument in Elberton near the South Carolina border.

Sometimes called “America’s Stonehenge,” the guidestones consisted of several large, upright stone blocks built in alignment with stars and constellations and weighing in at 119 tons and containing over 4,000 sandblasted letters spelling out what appear to be lessons for rebuilding humanity in 12 languages. Some of the advice is controversial, including the tip “maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.”

The world’s population is more than 15 times higher than that.

The stones were built in 1980, commissioned by a mysterious man who used the pseudonym R.C. Christian.

The GBI believes unknown suspects detonated an explosive device at about 4 a.m., reducing several of the upright stones to rubble. By 5 p.m., the remaining stones had been knocked down.

The stones were a popular stop for fans of strange roadside attractions like Laura Jones and her father, Robert Jones of Atlanta, who were puzzled by the police presence Wednesday.

“We literally were like, ‘OK, the GPS says turn here. Wow, that’s a lot of cars parked by the side.’ And then I saw it was closed. We just pulled up over there,” Laura Jones said. “We just saw the GBI guys and were like, ‘Hey, what’s up?’ He said ‘Watch the news, that’s about all I can tell you.’”

The two planned to stop by the stones after watching a segment about them on comedian John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight.”

“If you watch that John Oliver thing, one of the kookier Republican primary people had some vendetta against it, Kandiss something, but I don’t think anyone seriously does,” Laura Jones said. “I think it probably was just like some bored kids.”

Jones was referring to Kandiss Taylor, third place finisher in May’s Republican gubernatorial primary, who listed destroying the guidestones as one of her top 10 priorities during the campaign, describing them as evil and satanic.

In an emailed statement, Taylor seemed to express glee at the monument’s destruction:

“Since my election, the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of THREE of my main platform issues and executive orders (Jesus, Guns, and Babies), and Just like Religious persecution, Gun Control, and abortion, the Georgia Guidestones, a demonic monument that calls for the depopulation of the earth, as well as for the extermination of 7.5 Billion people, has no place in the Christian state of Georgia, or in America for that matter! This looks like another Act of God to me. Today, it is another defeat of the devil. Never underestimate the power of Prayer!”

Taylor was not the only one who found fault with the rocks.

A Franklin County pastor, Clint Harper, pressed Elbert County commissioners at their June meeting to dismantle the monument, which he says advocates for genocide and abortion.

“To maintain humanity under 500 million people, that means that this monument that is in Elbert County advocates the killing of 6.5 billion people,” Harper told the commissioners last month.

Harper argued the county was essentially endorsing the cryptic message by letting it stay on county property and tending to the site. When his request went nowhere, he asked commissioners to let him install a giant cross and a copy of the 10 Commandments alongside the Georgia Guidestones.

The county’s attorney, Bill Daughtry, said Harper was reading too much into the monument’s inscriptions, which Daughtry described as “nonsense” paid for by an eccentric millionaire.

“It’s simply a tourist attraction. We don’t have to disagree with it or understand it,” Daughtry said. “You looked at it and saw ‘abortion’ in big letters, which I looked at it and I did not see that. It’s simply a tourist attraction. It’s been there for years, and people pull off the interstate and come spend their money at local businesses after they look at the funny monument.”

Daughtry said no one objected to the Georgia Guidestones as a religious monument until Taylor ran for governor. Daughtry encouraged Harper to buy land and erect a Christian monument there.

“I’ve never known anybody other than Kandiss Taylor to consider this a statement of faith. It’s just a bunch of nonsense chiseled on stone,” he said.

Residents said they viewed the stones as a fun piece of local lore.

“We came out here as kids,” said George Bond, an Elberton resident and restaurant operator. “We would sneak a beer and hang out at the weird, Southern Gothic architecture, and that’s it. There’s been nothing out here as long as I can remember bad or satanic or evil. It’s just a hokey little gimmick out in a little town. It was terrible that somebody blew it up, a little town don’t need to spend any money fixing it.”

Jack Patel, who works at the nearby Quik Mart and Cafe, estimated about a third of his customers are tourists visiting the monument. He said he’s never heard of anyone expressing a problem with the stones.

“You’d just go take a walk, read the blocks, take a picture,” he said with a shrug. “A lot of people come in on the weekends to see the Guidestones.”

Elberton sits on top of a large bed of granite and has become known for its numerous granite companies and skilled stoneworkers, which are likely the reason the mysterious Mr. Christian chose the town as the spot for his monument.

There were security cameras present on the site, said Christopher Kubas, executive vice president of the Elberton Granite Association, but details of the investigation have not yet been released.

“I really hate that this happened. I do think it’s an attack on free speech, and I hate that we’ve gotten to this point in our country where nothing can be out there for people to read without somebody trying to destroy it.”

Speaking outside the Elberton Granite Museum and Exhibit, Elberton Mayor Daniel Graves said the attack feels like a strike at his city’s history.

“It’s not part of a vast conspiracy theory. It’s not intended to spread hate or anything evil. This is a celebration of the men and women that work so hard in our stone industry and what it means to this community. It’s the lifeblood. We’re the granite capital of the world, and it’s something we’re extremely proud of.”

“We’re heartbroken, but still so grateful,” he added. “There’s so many communities that have experienced such serious loss in the last several weeks. We’re grateful that we’re only mourning the loss of stone and some of the others have lost so much more.”

As Graves spoke with the Recorder, city officials had yet to determine the extent of the damage to the monument, but the mayor said he hoped to see it restored.

“We’re not running out of stone anytime soon,” he said. “So I’m confident that one thing we can do is fix a monument.”


Georgia Recorder Deputy Editor Jill Nolin contributed to this report.

Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Georgia Recorder maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John McCosh for questions: info@georgiarecorder.com. Follow Georgia Recorder on Facebook and Twitter.

'I just think he's an idiot': Trump battle cry muted in Georgia primary elections

Tuesday night was a disappointment for most of former President Donald Trump’s endorsed Republican candidates in Georgia’s statewide races.

Herschel Walker, a former UGA football star and Trump surrogate in Georgia, ran away with a primary win and is set for general election fight against Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock. But Gov. Brian Kemp, the former president’s best frenemy, easily defeated former Sen. David Perdue for the Republican’s right to a rematch with Democrat Stacey Abrams this fall.

Trump is credited with propelling Kemp past then-Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle to secure the Republican nomination in 2018. But Kemp became one of Trump’s favorite targets after he refused to help overturn the 2020 election results.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, another major target of Trump ire following the election, dodged a runoff against Trump-backed Jody Hice, a former Republican Congressman who ran on a platform of election conspiracy theories.

Raffensperger, who refused Trump’s request to find additional votes in a now-famous phone call, reportedly received death threats in the aftermath of the 2020 vote, but he is now clear to seek another term against a Democratic challenger who still must survive a runoff.

Attorney General Chris Carr easily fended off a late bid from Trump-backed challenger John Gordon, an attorney involved with Trump’s legal attempts to overturn the 2020 election Joe Biden won. With about 95% of the vote counted, Carr won nearly 75% of the vote and is poised to face Democratic nominee Jen Jordan, an attorney and state senator from Atlanta.

In an exceedingly rare move for a former president, Trump made an endorsement for the state insurance commissioner, backing attorney Patrick Witt against incumbent John King, but King appeared to manage an easy win with more than 70% of votes.

A few hand-picked candidates Trump fared better.

As of early Wednesday, Trump’s favorite for lieutenant governor, state Sen. Burt Jones led fellow Republican state Sen. Butch Miller with 50.1% of the vote to Miller’s 31.1%, but votes were still being counted.

Two Trump favorites for Congress with little political experience face uphill runoffs.

In Congressional District 6, which was newly drawn to favor a Republican candidate, Jake Evans, the son of Trump’s former ambassador to Luxembourg, is set to go to a runoff with former Congressman Rich McCormick, according to the Associated Press. As of midnight, McCormick had about 44.5% of the vote to Evans’ 23%, with half of districts reporting.

Former Democratic state Rep. Vernon Jones, Trump’s pick for east Georgia’s District 10, appears to be in a similar boat. As of midnight, he trailed Mike Collins, the owner of a trucking company, with 89% of precincts reporting, Collins had 25.59% of the vote to Jones’ 21.57%.

Jones originally was a candidate for governor, but decided to run for Congress, reportedly at Trump’s request to make room for Perdue to run for governor against Kemp.

Voters react

Republican voters at Georgia’s polling places had mixed feelings about the former president.

Rural Gordon County is the type of place where Republican candidates hope to have a solid base of support – it’s represented by conservative stalwart Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene and gave Trump more than 80% of the vote in 2020.

But voters at the Soronaville Community Center outside Calhoun said Trump’s endorsement isn’t everything.

Keith Cochran, who works in city government, said he voted for Kemp because he likes the way he’s run the state over the last four years, citing the recent fuel tax cut and school COVID-19 policies. He’s also a dyed-in-the-wool fan of Greene.

“Oh, I just love her. I wish she’d run for president,” he said. “She’s honest. And she’s for the people.”

Trump’s endorsement matters, but not more than what he’s seen with his own eyes.

“(Trump) is a nut, but I think he’s for the people also,” he said. “On the other hand, Biden, he’s giving money away, so we like that, but somebody’s got to pay the price.”

“I take what he says with a grain of salt,” he added.

Others said they have grown disillusioned with Trump following his presidency.

“His endorsement don’t mean nothing to me,” said truck driver Greg Hendrix. “I mean, Trump done good while he was president, but from the election on, he showed us what type of person he was, and I don’t need nobody like that representing our country.”

Hendrix also cast his ballot for Raffensperger, who he credited with standing up to Trump’s “bullying” after the election, and for Herschel Walker, albeit reluctantly. He said Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black would have been his first choice, but he felt Walker’s star power gives him a better shot at beating Sen. Raphael Warnock.

Terry Trivette, an insurance salesman and pastor, acknowledged he is in the minority in his community, but said he is fed up with the Trump wing of his party, adding that he would “write in Mary Poppins” before voting for Greene.

“I’m a conservative,” he said. “I’m a libertarian in a lot of ways, but I’m a conservative when it comes to policy, I’m conservative, I’m just not what this is. This is not conservatism. This is populism, and I don’t like it. It’s brainwashing. So I went with Miss (Jennifer) Strahan, who I think is a sensible candidate, but I don’t know. This woman’s got a stronghold on us too.”

“If you said God and guns enough,” he added with a shrug.

About 80 miles to the southeast, some Gwinnett Republicans expressed similar concerns.

Loganville resident Doug Hall says he was a reliable GOP voter before the 2020 election, when he cast his ballot for President Joe Biden. But he pulled a Republican ballot Tuesday and sought out the candidates who had not received Trump’s blessing, including Black.

Hall said he hopes Georgia voters send a message during a primary that has been closely watched as a referendum on Trump’s lingering power over the national GOP.

“He is not the Republican Party that I want to be affiliated with – at all,” Hall said after voting at the South Gwinnett Baptist Church. “He’s eroded our sense of democracy.”

“I’m not happy with what (Biden’s) done, but we couldn’t keep going down that road (with Trump),” Hall said. “We just couldn’t, so now I’m back to the Republican Party and trying to weed this cancer out of it. Because that’s what it is to me.”

Another Loganville resident who typically votes Republican, Holly Eck, also said she mostly steered clear of Trump-endorsed candidates like Jones.

“I just think he’s an idiot, to say it plainly,” Eck said of Trump.

Looking to November

A voter’s personal opinion appears to be more important than the Trump seal of approval in Georgia, said University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock.

“What it suggests is that Trump’s influence is going to be muted by a person who has a record,” Bullock said. “And Kemp, with his four years as governor and everything that has been passed by his administration, that counts for something, whereas an open seat, which Kemp was running for four years ago, the Trump endorsement did make a lot of impact there.”

Trump also issued several endorsements for incumbent Republicans including Greene who were nearly certainly set to win regardless, including some who had no primary opponents.

“Of course, he’ll take full credit for it and brag about it,” Bullock said. “But in reality, what we’re seeing, at least in Georgia, is that simply because Trump smiles at you and gives you his backing, it’s not the be-all-end-all.”

In his concession speech, Perdue pledged to give Kemp his full support against Abrams, but whether Trump does the same is another question. Many blame Trump and his claims of election fraud for depressing Republican turnout in the January 2021 runoffs that sent Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to the Senate, tipping the balance of power to their party.

“I think Trump may well do that, because Trump is not really interested in building the Republican Party, he’s interested in building a Trump party,” Bullock said. “Therefore, I’m not sure he’ll ever get behind Kemp. If Trump follows that pattern it could cost Kemp, and cost him dearly, potentially, in that it might induce enough Republicans to – not that they would vote for Stacey Abrams – but to skip over Kemp, in which case, you might see a replay of that January 2021 federal election, where I think Trump probably went a long way toward costing Republicans those two senate seats.”

Georgia Recorder Deputy Editor contributed to this report.


Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Georgia Recorder maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John McCosh for questions: info@georgiarecorder.com. Follow Georgia Recorder on Facebook and Twitter.

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Marjorie Taylor Greene opponents renew bid to boot her from ballot

With just over a week to go before Election Day, a group of voters in Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Northwest Georgia district has renewed its challenge of her candidacy.

The voters claim Greene should be ineligible under the 14th Amendment because they say she was involved with the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot in Washington, which they contend amounted to a rebellion against the United States.

Administrative law judge Charles Beaudrot and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger were not convinced by their arguments. Beaudrot ruled that the challengers did not provide sufficient evidence that Greene had any role in the attacks, and Raffensperger, who manages elections in the state, signed off on the opinion.

Free Speech for People, a nonprofit legal advocacy organization representing the challengers, filed an appeal with the Fulton County Superior Court Monday, arguing that the court made several errors in the case.

Typically, when a candidate’s eligibility is challenged in Georgia, it is a question of whether the candidate meets the age or residency requirements to run, and the candidate must simply provide their birth certificate or proof of residency. Since Greene’s case is more complicated, the court ruled that the burden of proof should be on the challengers.

“In the interests of justice, Rep. Greene should not be required to ‘prove a negative’ and affirmatively establish she did not engage in an insurrection,” Beaudrot’s decision reads.

That was a mistake, the challengers argue, because evidence necessary to determine Greene’s eligibility was in her control, but the judge blocked their request for discovery.

The challengers requested documents including Greene’s communications with people under investigation for planning the Jan. 6 riots but were denied on the grounds that it was “impracticable and unrealistic to require Respondent to deliver a significant volume of material prior to the scheduled hearing date.”

The challengers also say Beaudrot did not properly consider statements Greene made prior to taking office. The section of the 14th Amendment they are seeking to invoke bars those who have taken an oath of office before engaging in a rebellion from running again, and the case centered on her activity between being sworn in Jan. 3, 2021, and the riot three days later.

During the April 22 hearing, attorneys submitted video and social media statements made by Greene urging supporters to “flood the Capitol building” and telling an interviewer that “you can’t allow it to just transfer power peacefully like Joe Biden wants and allow him to become our president.”

Greene’s lawyers argued that statements like these were simply heated political rhetoric, and, more importantly, protected speech under the First Amendment, and Beaudrot seemed inclined to agree. The challengers say inflammatory statements made before taking office provide context that shows she was giving marching orders to those who illegally entered the Capitol.

Finally, they argued that the judge set too high a bar in defining what it means to engage in an insurrection. Beaudrot concluded that Greene did not take part in the violence or provide tactical planning.

“Even if Greene did not learn about any plan to unlawfully challenge the election and attack the Capitol until she voiced her support for it on Jan. 5, 2021, her encouragement would still constitute ‘voluntary aiding’ and therefore engaging in insurrection,” the notice of appeal reads. “Similarly, even if the insurrectionist plan was not hatched until Jan. 5, shortly before Greene urged her support, that too would amount to ‘voluntary aiding’ and therefore engaging in insurrection.”

Greene’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but she has previously characterized the lawsuit as a partisan effort to expel an outspoken conservative and said that allowing judges rather than voters to decide who should serve could set a dangerous precedent. Her lawyers said she was as much a victim of the Jan. 6 violence as any other member of Congress and produced a statement of her calling for calm as she took refuge in the Capitol with her colleagues.

The state’s primary elections are set for May 24, with early voting underway now. Greene’s name appears on ballots in her district. The general election is scheduled for Nov. 8.


Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Georgia Recorder maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John McCosh for questions: info@georgiarecorder.com. Follow Georgia Recorder on Facebook and Twitter.

Marjorie Taylor Greene opponents renew bid to boot her from ballot

With just over a week to go before Election Day, a group of voters in Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Northwest Georgia district has renewed its challenge of her candidacy.

The voters claim Greene should be ineligible under the 14th Amendment because they say she was involved with the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot in Washington, which they contend amounted to a rebellion against the United States.

Administrative law judge Charles Beaudrot and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger were not convinced by their arguments. Beaudrot ruled that the challengers did not provide sufficient evidence that Greene had any role in the attacks, and Raffensperger, who manages elections in the state, signed off on the opinion.

Free Speech for People, a nonprofit legal advocacy organization representing the challengers, filed an appeal with the Fulton County Superior Court Monday, arguing that the court made several errors in the case.

Typically, when a candidate’s eligibility is challenged in Georgia, it is a question of whether the candidate meets the age or residency requirements to run, and the candidate must simply provide their birth certificate or proof of residency. Since Greene’s case is more complicated, the court ruled that the burden of proof should be on the challengers.

“In the interests of justice, Rep. Greene should not be required to ‘prove a negative’ and affirmatively establish she did not engage in an insurrection,” Beaudrot’s decision reads.

That was a mistake, the challengers argue, because evidence necessary to determine Greene’s eligibility was in her control, but the judge blocked their request for discovery.

The challengers requested documents including Greene’s communications with people under investigation for planning the Jan. 6 riots but were denied on the grounds that it was “impracticable and unrealistic to require Respondent to deliver a significant volume of material prior to the scheduled hearing date.”

The challengers also say Beaudrot did not properly consider statements Greene made prior to taking office. The section of the 14th Amendment they are seeking to invoke bars those who have taken an oath of office before engaging in a rebellion from running again, and the case centered on her activity between being sworn in Jan. 3, 2021, and the riot three days later.

During the April 22 hearing, attorneys submitted video and social media statements made by Greene urging supporters to “flood the Capitol building” and telling an interviewer that “you can’t allow it to just transfer power peacefully like Joe Biden wants and allow him to become our president.”

Greene’s lawyers argued that statements like these were simply heated political rhetoric, and, more importantly, protected speech under the First Amendment, and Beaudrot seemed inclined to agree. The challengers say inflammatory statements made before taking office provide context that shows she was giving marching orders to those who illegally entered the Capitol.

Finally, they argued that the judge set too high a bar in defining what it means to engage in an insurrection. Beaudrot concluded that Greene did not take part in the violence or provide tactical planning.

“Even if Greene did not learn about any plan to unlawfully challenge the election and attack the Capitol until she voiced her support for it on Jan. 5, 2021, her encouragement would still constitute ‘voluntary aiding’ and therefore engaging in insurrection,” the notice of appeal reads. “Similarly, even if the insurrectionist plan was not hatched until Jan. 5, shortly before Greene urged her support, that too would amount to ‘voluntary aiding’ and therefore engaging in insurrection.”

Greene’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but she has previously characterized the lawsuit as a partisan effort to expel an outspoken conservative and said that allowing judges rather than voters to decide who should serve could set a dangerous precedent. Her lawyers said she was as much a victim of the Jan. 6 violence as any other member of Congress and produced a statement of her calling for calm as she took refuge in the Capitol with her colleagues.

The state’s primary elections are set for May 24, with early voting underway now. Greene’s name appears on ballots in her district. The general election is scheduled for Nov. 8.

Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Georgia Recorder maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John McCosh for questions: info@georgiarecorder.com. Follow Georgia Recorder on Facebook and Twitter.

Voters suing to block Marjorie Taylor Greene from ballot want 'Marshall law' text considered

Lawyers representing voters challenging the candidacy of Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene want to introduce new evidence they say undermines Greene’s testimony in a state hearing last month.

The attorneys say a text message from Greene to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows sent Jan. 17, 2021, in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol show Greene was less than honest in her responses during cross examination.

“In our private chat with only Members, several are saying the only way to save our Republic is for Trump to call for Marshall law (sic),” she said in a message first published by CNN. “I don’t know on those things. I just wanted you to tell him. They stole this election. We all know. They will destroy our country next. Please tell him to declassify as much as possible so we can go after Biden and anyone else!”

Former President Donald Trump has sought to discredit President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory but has produced no evidence backing his claims. In the days between the election and Biden’s inauguration, top Trump aides reportedly suggested declaring martial law and deploying the military to conduct a new election, an unconstitutional act which would have been unprecedented in American history.

Last month, Greene said she had no knowledge of conversations about martial law with former President Donald Trump or other officials.

“Did you ever advocate for martial law prior to the inauguration of Mr. Biden with any member of the White House staff that was part of the Trump administration?” asked attorney Andrew Celli.

“I don’t recall,” Greene said.

“Are you aware of any other congressional elected congressional representatives advocating for martial law to stop the peaceful transfer of power before the inauguration?” Celli asked.

“I don’t remember,” Greene said.

In a document filed last week with the Georgia Office of State Administrative Hearings, the attorneys argue that the text cast doubt on Greene’s claims she did not remember discussing martial law.

“Second, the text sheds light on the meaning of her pre-January 6 statements,” the attorneys write. “Eleven days after the failed insurrection, Greene was still fighting against the peaceful transfer of power by advocating extra-legal means. This text, like her statements on January 5, shows the lengths to which she was willing to go to help Mr. Trump remain in power.”

By itself, the text does not prove the lawyers’ central claim, that Greene aided and abetted a rebellion against the government between being sworn into office Jan. 3 and the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. They are seeking to revoke her eligibility to run for office under a provision of the 14th Amendment which bars anyone who “shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States or “given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof” once they have taken the oath of office.

In a Jan. 7 text message also released by CNN, Greene denounces the violence of Jan. 6, calling it a “terrible day” and expressing a false belief that it was caused by Antifa agent provocateurs.

In the courtroom, her lawyers said she was a victim of the attack, sheltering at the Capitol with other frightened legislators. They accused the voters filing the suit of targeting Greene’s protected speech to prevent voters from having their say, which they said could set a dangerous precedent.

Greene, based in Rome, represents a solid Republican congressional district that represents much of northwest Georgia.

Judge Charles Beaudrot is expected to make a recommendation on whether Greene’s re-election run is constitutional, and Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger will have the final say.


Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Georgia Recorder maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John McCosh for questions: info@georgiarecorder.com. Follow Georgia Recorder on Facebook and Twitter.

Voters suing to block Marjorie Taylor Greene from ballot want ‘Marshall law’ text considered

Lawyers representing voters challenging the candidacy of Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene want to introduce new evidence they say undermines Greene’s testimony in a state hearing last month.

The attorneys say a text message from Greene to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows sent Jan. 17, 2021, in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol show Greene was less than honest in her responses during cross examination.

“In our private chat with only Members, several are saying the only way to save our Republic is for Trump to call for Marshall law (sic),” she said in a message first published by CNN. “I don’t know on those things. I just wanted you to tell him. They stole this election. We all know. They will destroy our country next. Please tell him to declassify as much as possible so we can go after Biden and anyone else!”

Former President Donald Trump has sought to discredit President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory but has produced no evidence backing his claims. In the days between the election and Biden’s inauguration, top Trump aides reportedly suggested declaring martial law and deploying the military to conduct a new election, an unconstitutional act which would have been unprecedented in American history.

Last month, Greene said she had no knowledge of conversations about martial law with former President Donald Trump or other officials.

“Did you ever advocate for martial law prior to the inauguration of Mr. Biden with any member of the White House staff that was part of the Trump administration?” asked attorney Andrew Celli.

“I don’t recall,” Greene said.

“Are you aware of any other congressional elected congressional representatives advocating for martial law to stop the peaceful transfer of power before the inauguration?” Celli asked.

“I don’t remember,” Greene said.

In a document filed last week with the Georgia Office of State Administrative Hearings, the attorneys argue that the text cast doubt on Greene’s claims she did not remember discussing martial law.

“Second, the text sheds light on the meaning of her pre-January 6 statements,” the attorneys write. “Eleven days after the failed insurrection, Greene was still fighting against the peaceful transfer of power by advocating extra-legal means. This text, like her statements on January 5, shows the lengths to which she was willing to go to help Mr. Trump remain in power.”

By itself, the text does not prove the lawyers’ central claim, that Greene aided and abetted a rebellion against the government between being sworn into office Jan. 3 and the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. They are seeking to revoke her eligibility to run for office under a provision of the 14th Amendment which bars anyone who “shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States or “given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof” once they have taken the oath of office.

In a Jan. 7 text message also released by CNN, Greene denounces the violence of Jan. 6, calling it a “terrible day” and expressing a false belief that it was caused by Antifa agent provocateurs.

In the courtroom, her lawyers said she was a victim of the attack, sheltering at the Capitol with other frightened legislators. They accused the voters filing the suit of targeting Greene’s protected speech to prevent voters from having their say, which they said could set a dangerous precedent.

Greene, based in Rome, represents a solid Republican congressional district that represents much of northwest Georgia.

Judge Charles Beaudrot is expected to make a recommendation on whether Greene’s re-election run is constitutional, and Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger will have the final say.

Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Georgia Recorder maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John McCosh for questions: info@georgiarecorder.com. Follow Georgia Recorder on Facebook and Twitter.

Georgia's GOP governor signs off on laws he says will keep 'woke politics' out of public schools

Gov. Brian Kemp cemented much of his planned education policy Thursday, signing a raft of bills aimed at keeping controversial ideas out of the malleable minds of Georgia’s youngsters.

At a signing ceremony in Forsyth County, Kemp touted recent investments in public education.

“This session, we built on that momentum, fully funding the QBE school formula for three out of the four years I’ve been your Governor, even as we emerged from a global pandemic,” he said. “We finished out the final installment of the teacher pay raise I promised on the campaign trail in 2018 for a total of $5,000, and we put students and parents first by keeping woke politics out of the classroom and off our ballfields.”

That last bit is where Georgia liberals find fault.

Republicans in the Legislature say their smorgasbord of education policy changes will give parents more power in the classroom and protect kids from propaganda disguised as history lessons. Democrats and activists call it an election-year ploy to shore up support against the governor’s GOP primary challenger, former Sen. David Perdue, and presumed Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams at students’ expense.

Two of the new laws aim to enshrine the role of parents in their children’s education. One, which supporters call the Parents’ Bill of Rights, spells out a list of rights for public school parents, including the ability to examine and register complaints against all classroom materials. The other requires local boards of education to publish rules of conduct specifying what behavior constitutes removal from a meeting.

State legislatures around the country have been experimenting with changes to education policy after a year of culture war clashes over COVID-19 mask rules and classroom discussions on race and gender have some conservatives fed up.

It’s a worrying trend, said Jalaya Liles Dunn, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Learning for Justice project.

“With today’s signing of HB 1084 and other so-called parental rights bills, Georgia will join at least 17 other states that have passed laws or other policies to limit how teachers can discuss race and racism in classrooms,” she said. “This sets a dangerous precedent that allows our democratic government to dictate, conceal and censor accurate information they disagree with. These bills were designed to distort the truth and sanitize history at a time when awareness of systemic racism is growing as a result of the last few years’ historic uprisings.”

Another pair of newly signed laws are concerned with what ideas school children should have access to. One requires districts to create a process for parents to complain about objectionable materials in school libraries, and another, House Bill 1084, bars nine concepts from classroom lessons, including the idea that the United States is “fundamentally racist,” that anyone should feel guilt because of his or her race or that anyone bears guilt for actions done by members of their race in the past.

“It ensures all of our state and nation’s history is taught accurately – because here in Georgia, our classrooms will not be pawns of those who want to indoctrinate our kids with their partisan political agendas,” Kemp said.

Civil Rights organizations say it’s Kemp who is playing politics by inserting culture war issues into classrooms.

“This law turns our schools into battlegrounds, where our children need the care and support of trusted adults, parents and teachers working together more than ever,” said Andrea Young, executive director of the Georgia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Young spoke at a virtual press conference Thursday where the Georgia ACLU and Southern Poverty Law Center announced an email address, TeachTruth@splcenter.org, where parents, students and educators can email information about how the new law impacts learning.

Critics point out that efforts to ban discussion of topics viewed as controversial often disproportionately impact authors belonging to or subjects related to racial or sexual minorities.

“My son should be able to go into his school library and find books that reflect what his family looks like, just like every other student in Georgia,” said Amanda Lee, president-elect of the Georgia Library Media Association and a Georgia educator at a Thursday press conference held by the Georgia Democrats. “Let me be clear, a parent has the right to determine what’s best for their child and only their child. Allowing some parents more of a voice than others, denies students of books they need to learn and grow, and it serves as a reminder to all whose stories are valued and whose stories are deemed ‘inappropriate.’”

“It’s shameful that Brian Kemp has decided his re-election campaign is more important than our schools and our kids’ education,” she added.

Despite the new law, some teachers like Atlanta Public School teacher Anthony Downer say they will keep pushing for ways to teach about how white supremacy is entrenched in U.S. society. But he said strong partnerships with organizations are necessary to protect educators, even at Frederick Douglass High School, where he teaches civics and Africana Studies.

“Without those services, teachers, even Black teachers at places like these will begin to self-censor,” he said. “They won’t have to come after a lot of teachers because a lot of teachers will be shut up. The second thing we need to do is think bigger and brighter about how we give our students culturally sustaining education. It can live beyond the brick and mortar, beyond the four walls.”

In a dramatic last-minute move, lawmakers amended HB 1084 to include language creating a committee to determine whether transgender girls should be allowed to play on girls’ public school sports teams.

Conservatives have been pushing for such a measure for several years, arguing that transgender girls have an unfair advantage, but LGBTQ advocates call the law an unnecessary attack on vulnerable children.

Bills targeting transgender youth have popped up across the country this year, including in Texas, Florida, Alabama, Iowa and South Dakota.

Kemp acknowledged the controversy surrounding his favored legislation, but said it is unwarranted.

“Standing up for the God-given potential of each and every child in our schools and protecting the teaching of freedom, liberty, opportunity and the American dream in the classroom should not be controversial,” he said. “Making sure parents have the ultimate say in their child’s education should not be controversial. And as the parents of three daughters, (First lady Marty Kemp) and I want every young girl in this state to have every opportunity to succeed in the sport they love. That should not be controversial.”


Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Georgia Recorder maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John McCosh for questions: info@georgiarecorder.com. Follow Georgia Recorder on Facebook and Twitter.

Brian Kemp signs off on laws he says will keep ‘woke politics’ out of public schools

Gov. Brian Kemp cemented much of his planned education policy Thursday, signing a raft of bills aimed at keeping controversial ideas out of the malleable minds of Georgia’s youngsters.

At a signing ceremony in Forsyth County, Kemp touted recent investments in public education.

“This session, we built on that momentum, fully funding the QBE school formula for three out of the four years I’ve been your Governor, even as we emerged from a global pandemic,” he said. “We finished out the final installment of the teacher pay raise I promised on the campaign trail in 2018 for a total of $5,000, and we put students and parents first by keeping woke politics out of the classroom and off our ballfields.”

That last bit is where Georgia liberals find fault.

Republicans in the Legislature say their smorgasbord of education policy changes will give parents more power in the classroom and protect kids from propaganda disguised as history lessons. Democrats and activists call it an election-year ploy to shore up support against the governor’s GOP primary challenger, former Sen. David Perdue, and presumed Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams at students’ expense.

Two of the new laws aim to enshrine the role of parents in their children’s education. One, which supporters call the Parents’ Bill of Rights, spells out a list of rights for public school parents, including the ability to examine and register complaints against all classroom materials. The other requires local boards of education to publish rules of conduct specifying what behavior constitutes removal from a meeting.

State legislatures around the country have been experimenting with changes to education policy after a year of culture war clashes over COVID-19 mask rules and classroom discussions on race and gender have some conservatives fed up.

It’s a worrying trend, said Jalaya Liles Dunn, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Learning for Justice project.

“With today’s signing of HB 1084 and other so-called parental rights bills, Georgia will join at least 17 other states that have passed laws or other policies to limit how teachers can discuss race and racism in classrooms,” she said. “This sets a dangerous precedent that allows our democratic government to dictate, conceal and censor accurate information they disagree with. These bills were designed to distort the truth and sanitize history at a time when awareness of systemic racism is growing as a result of the last few years’ historic uprisings.”

Another pair of newly signed laws are concerned with what ideas school children should have access to. One requires districts to create a process for parents to complain about objectionable materials in school libraries, and another, House Bill 1084, bars nine concepts from classroom lessons, including the idea that the United States is “fundamentally racist,” that anyone should feel guilt because of his or her race or that anyone bears guilt for actions done by members of their race in the past.

“It ensures all of our state and nation’s history is taught accurately – because here in Georgia, our classrooms will not be pawns of those who want to indoctrinate our kids with their partisan political agendas,” Kemp said.

SUPPORT NEWS YOU TRUST.

Civil Rights organizations say it’s Kemp who is playing politics by inserting culture war issues into classrooms.

“This law turns our schools into battlegrounds, where our children need the care and support of trusted adults, parents and teachers working together more than ever,” said Andrea Young, executive director of the Georgia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Young spoke at a virtual press conference Thursday where the Georgia ACLU and Southern Poverty Law Center announced an email address, TeachTruth@splcenter.org, where parents, students and educators can email information about how the new law impacts learning.

Critics point out that efforts to ban discussion of topics viewed as controversial often disproportionately impact authors belonging to or subjects related to racial or sexual minorities.

“My son should be able to go into his school library and find books that reflect what his family looks like, just like every other student in Georgia,” said Amanda Lee, president-elect of the Georgia Library Media Association and a Georgia educator at a Thursday press conference held by the Georgia Democrats. “Let me be clear, a parent has the right to determine what’s best for their child and only their child. Allowing some parents more of a voice than others, denies students of books they need to learn and grow, and it serves as a reminder to all whose stories are valued and whose stories are deemed ‘inappropriate.’”

“It’s shameful that Brian Kemp has decided his re-election campaign is more important than our schools and our kids’ education,” she added.

Despite the new law, some teachers like Atlanta Public School teacher Anthony Downer say they will keep pushing for ways to teach about how white supremacy is entrenched in U.S. society. But he said strong partnerships with organizations are necessary to protect educators, even at Frederick Douglass High School, where he teaches civics and Africana Studies.

“Without those services, teachers, even Black teachers at places like these will begin to self-censor,” he said. “They won’t have to come after a lot of teachers because a lot of teachers will be shut up. The second thing we need to do is think bigger and brighter about how we give our students culturally sustaining education. It can live beyond the brick and mortar, beyond the four walls.”

In a dramatic last-minute move, lawmakers amended HB 1084 to include language creating a committee to determine whether transgender girls should be allowed to play on girls’ public school sports teams.

Conservatives have been pushing for such a measure for several years, arguing that transgender girls have an unfair advantage, but LGBTQ advocates call the law an unnecessary attack on vulnerable children.

Bills targeting transgender youth have popped up across the country this year, including in Texas, Florida, Alabama, Iowa and South Dakota.

Kemp acknowledged the controversy surrounding his favored legislation, but said it is unwarranted.

“Standing up for the God-given potential of each and every child in our schools and protecting the teaching of freedom, liberty, opportunity and the American dream in the classroom should not be controversial,” he said. “Making sure parents have the ultimate say in their child’s education should not be controversial. And as the parents of three daughters, (First lady Marty Kemp) and I want every young girl in this state to have every opportunity to succeed in the sport they love. That should not be controversial.”

Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Georgia Recorder maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John McCosh for questions: info@georgiarecorder.com. Follow Georgia Recorder on Facebook and Twitter.

Lawsuit seeking to boot Marjorie Taylor Greene from the ballot is probably 'going nowhere': legal expert

It’s not unusual for a candidate’s qualifications to be challenged before a big race, but the case facing Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene is unique.

“What is different about this one is that it’s utilizing this law that was passed after the Civil War, during Reconstruction, to try to use that as the reason to say that she has basically engaged in actions that have disqualified her from holding further office,” said Georgia State University political science professor Amy Steigerwalt. “Part of the question which is really coming up with this is whether or not this law is meant to apply now in 2022, or was it explicitly meant to apply to those who literally fought in the Civil War?”

Greene is set to head to court Friday to argue why her name deserves to appear on the May 24 ballot after a federal judge ruled in favor of a group of Georgia voters seeking to remove it.

The voters argue that Greene was involved in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, which they say amounted to an attempted insurrection against the government.

They are asking Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to disqualify her based on a provision in the Fourteenth Amendment.

Most people know the Reconstruction-era Fourteenth Amendment as extending rights to those who were previously enslaved, but a section of it bars those who “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion” or “given aid or comfort to the enemies” of the government from holding office.

It was created by lawmakers in response to President Andrew Johnson’s accommodation to the defeated Confederates, said Georgia State University constitutional law professor Anthony Michael Kreis.

“One of the ideas here was that you needed to remove individuals who conspired and served in the Confederacy, from the body politic, while you’re re-instituting civil government in the South, creating new state constitutions and constituting new state legislatures and getting Reconstruction off the ground,” he said. “The idea is that a political disability would be imposed on people who engage in insurrection, rebellion, and that Congress would then have the ability later down the road to write to remove those with disabilities if they saw fit.”

Greene’s attorneys argued that Congress had seen fit to do so with the Amnesty Act of 1872, which removed restrictions against most of those who participated in the rebellion. Another federal judge applied that logic to a similar case against North Carolina Congressman Madison Cawthorn, blocking an effort to remove him from the ballot.

Judge Amy Totenberg disagreed, writing that lawmakers did not intend to provide amnesty for future rebellions.

Greene’s lawyers also argued the complaint violates her rights to free speech and due process.

Totenberg again disagreed, writing that “a candidate’s right to appear on the ballot does not rise to the level of a fundamental constitutional right, nor does a challenge to a candidate’s qualifications necessarily equate to a severe burden on that candidate’s First Amendment rights.”

Totenberg also cast doubt on Greene’s arguments that a drawn-out courtroom process could last beyond the primary, noting that all parties appear committed to settling the dispute as quickly as possible and that Greene’s name can still appear on the ballot if arguments and appeals continue beyond May 24.

“The only question about the status of Plaintiff’s candidacy moving forward is whether the votes cast for her on those ballots will ultimately be counted,” she wrote.

Greene is scheduled to make her case in front of Judge Charles Beaudrot Friday morning. Beaudrot will present findings to Raffensperger, who will make the final decision.

Raffensperger’s name will be on the primary Republican ballot next to that of former Congressman Jody Hice, who, like Greene, has raised unsubstantiated doubts about the 2020 election.

Raffensperger earned former President Donald Trump’s ire for not illegally finding enough votes to allow him to win the state. Weighing in on the political future of Greene, a Trump favorite, is likely not what Raffensperger would most like to be doing ahead of the primary, Steigerwalt said.

“It brings up these issues again, puts him in a position to, once again, have to enforce the rules, which he has done, and he has enforced them correctly and fairly all the way through,” she said. “But it certainly is probably not what he wants to have to deal with right now, especially given the context of the primary challenges he’s facing.”

Greene struck a defiant tone talking about the case at a recent Trump rally.

“The same nasty people from Washington that think they are better than all of you, that hate every single one of you because they hated President Trump, and they hate me, they’re trying to take away your right to vote in my district, because now they’re coming after me to remove my name off the ballot,” she said. “Well, let me inform them of something right now. You’re going to lose. You’re not going to take my name off the ballot because we will defeat you.”

To call Greene a divisive figure would be an understatement. Democrats have a long list of complaints against her, from her support of QAnon conspiracies and threats against elected officials before her election to her public flouting of Congressional mask rules and recent speech at an event led by a white nationalist.

Greene’s fans in her northwest Georgia district seem to love the same things about her that Democrats detest, praising her ability to mix it up with her political foes and frustrate elites on both sides of the aisle.

Four Republicans and three Democrats have signed up to replace her.

Democrat Marcus Flowers is one of the challengers who have launched long-shot bids to flip the deep red district in northwest Georgia.

Flowers told reporters last month when he officially qualified as a candidate that he is counting on disenchanted conservatives to cross over out of embarrassment should Greene survive the primary. Flowers, or any Democrat, would need to win over Republicans while maximizing turnout in Cobb County to be competitive. Parts of Democratic-leaning south Cobb were added to the conservative district during last year’s special redistricting session.

“I don’t think (Greene) even understands what constituent services means. She hasn’t been here in our district doing the work. She’s been out all over the country speaking at white nationalist rallies, embarrassing the people of Georgia,” Flowers said.

Mainstream Republicans and Democrats both say they’d love to see Greene out of Congress, but it’s not clear whether invoking a Civil War era law is the way to go about it.

“The lawsuit against MTG to prevent her from running again for Congress probably has merit, but will require years to go through litigation and appeals,” said Charles Lutin, a physician challenging Greene as a Republican. “If such a suit is allowed to proceed, you can be sure that the far right will immediately turn the theory against anyone left of center to prevent their running against a fraudster like MTG. In short, we the people need to sort this out at the ballot box by rejecting MTG and her ilk.”

Greene opponents should not place too much hope in a section of the Constitution not meaningfully focused on since the 1800s, Kreis said.

“It’s really an underdeveloped area because this is, in fact, such a rare occurrence,” he said. “The other thing, of course, is that we don’t have a really robust history of practice, as a consequence, of how states should adjudicate what is a rebellion, what’s an insurrection, who’s been part of it?”

A state like Georgia is not likely to be the one to test those waters, he added.

“So I just really see this kind of going nowhere. Other states might be more successful if similar challenges are made, for example, if someone made a challenge for somebody who lived in Illinois, New York or California, you may see something develop there, but I sincerely doubt it will happen here.”

Still, Totenberg’s decision to allow the challenge to advance could be seen as a positive sign for people opposed to the Jan. 6 wing of the GOP, Steigerwalt said.

“This decision possibly gives a little bit more power to similar challenges,” she said. “There was the one in North Carolina, but there’s also suggestions that the same group is going to file similar challenges against, I think, (Arizona Republican) Congressmen (Paul) Gosar (Andy) Biggs, and so this perhaps gives a little bit more weight to those challenges as well for the idea that they can go forward.”

One realm in which the case is likely to help Greene is fundraising. She has consistently been one of the House’s top fundraisers, though her campaign reported its first net loss during the first quarter of 2022.

“She, I’m positive, will use this as a fundraising tool,” Steigerwalt said. “Especially if it fails, to say ‘Look, what I did was just fine, and how dare they come after me, especially using this outdated law.’ Those who support her already support her. I’m not sure that it’s going to change any minds in that sense. But it does certainly give her more ammunition to use for the sort of very public campaign that she is running, one that is very much about saying ‘Everyone’s coming after me, they’re trying to silence me. They’re trying to cancel me.’”


Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Georgia Recorder maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John McCosh for questions: info@georgiarecorder.com. Follow Georgia Recorder on Facebook and Twitter.

Trump makes first big midterm donation — invests in ousting GOP Gov Brian Kemp

Former President Donald Trump has opened up his wallet – or at least his political action committee – in the hopes of thwarting Gov. Brian Kemp’s bid for a second term.

Trump’s Save America PAC has donated $500,000 to Get Georgia Right, a Virginia-based anti-Kemp super PAC.

As Politico first reported, the check is Trump’s first big donation in this year’s midterm elections nationally, and it may also be just the beginning of Trump’s spending in the Georgia governor’s race. Trump has socked away more than $110 million in his Save America PAC.

The donation comes as former U.S. Sen. David Perdue lags behind Kemp in the polls and in fundraising, and it is yet another sign of the important role Georgia continues to play in national politics.

Following the March 25 donation, Get Georgia Right began sponsoring TV ads featuring unsubstantiated claims tying Gov. Brian Kemp to supposed “illegal ballot harvesting” in 2020.

Relitigating the last presidential election has become standard for Trump, said Georgia State University political science professor Amy Steigerwalt. Once political allies, Trump and Kemp fell out after the 2020 election in which Trump lost Georgia and accused Kemp of not doing enough to illegally overturn the results.

“It really is the one thing that he focuses on and that he has devoted a lot of energy to, and in many ways, his dislike of Kemp is also very personal,” Steigerwalt said Wednesday. “And I think you really see that in that it’s sort of continuing, that it’s not just about what happened in the election, but really, that he doesn’t want Kemp to be there and sort of anyone but Kemp would be preferable.”

Trump’s criticism of Kemp has been unrelenting ever since the governor refused to help overturn the presidential election results nearly two years ago, and the former president has vowed to foil Kemp’s plans for a second term in the governor’s mansion.

Perdue publicly announced his candidacy in December, immediately complicating the GOP primary in Georgia, and he received Trump’s official endorsement the same day.

Trump has since endorsed a slate of statewide candidates in the Republican primary in Georgia, even wading into lower ballot races like the insurance commissioner’s contest. The Republican incumbent commissioner, John King, was appointed by Kemp.

Since Trump has ventured so far into Georgia politics this year, the May 24 primary is widely seen as a test of Trump’s hold on Republican voters.

“He very clearly has a lot of sway still over elected members of the Republican Party,” Steigerwalt said. “What we don’t entirely know is whether or not the voters are going to respond to that. And really, indications are that they’re not. Really, it doesn’t appear to be helping, for example, David Perdue, now that people know that Trump has endorsed him. We’re not seeing his numbers going up. In fact, in anything, it seems to have somewhat led to an increase, actually, in how Kemp is doing.”

Kemp held an 11-point lead over Perdue in an Emerson College poll released this month, which cast doubt on whether Trump’s March rally in Commerce benefited his favored candidate.

Trump has seemed to lower expectations in more recent interviews, telling a conservative radio host this month “it’s always hard to beat a sitting governor. Just remember that.”

Kemp’s campaign shrugged off Trump’s $500,000 donation to Perdue.

“David Perdue is going to need a lot more than $500,000 to distract from his unhinged rant attacking the Georgia State Patrol,” said Cody Hall, spokesman for the Kemp campaign.

Perdue lamented the condition of the Georgia State Patrol under Kemp, telling reporters Tuesday the agency had been allowed to “deteriorate” and was no longer functioning at an “elite level.” Perdue’s press conference was held the same day Kemp signed into law a bill ending a permit requirement and fee to carry a concealed firearm, which is a change Perdue has argued his primary challenge helped spur.

But even if Trump is not able to propel Perdue past the primary, he could still remain a thorn in Kemp’s side as he tries to focus on defeating presumed Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams. The 2018 challenge between the two was famously close, and if 2022 sees the same dynamic, a small number of Trump loyalists sitting the election out could boost Abrams across the finish line.

Georgia Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff likely benefited from Trump supporters sitting out the 2020 runoffs.

Georgia Recorder Deputy Editor Jill Nolin contributed to this report.

Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Georgia Recorder maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John McCosh for questions: info@georgiarecorder.com. Follow Georgia Recorder on Facebook and Twitter.

NOW WATCH: Fox Corp's LGBTQ staff livid over 'hateful' coverage of 'Don't Say Gay' bill

Fox Corp's LGBTQ staff livid over 'hateful' coverage of 'Don't Say Gay' bill www.youtube.com

Trump GOP kingmaking power to be tested after Georgia rally

On Saturday, Donald Trump made his latest triumphant return to Georgia after losing the 2020 election.

Much of Commerce, a rural city south of Athens, was swathed in patriotic colors, and merchants hawked Trump 2024 merchandise outside gas stations as thousands of the Trump faithful, many in vehicles festooned with Trump flags and bumper stickers, convened at Banks County Dragway in the hopes of reviving some of the magic of 2016.

The shirts on the backs and the signs in the hands of the attendees were largely pro-Trump or anti-President Joe Biden, but for the former president, the rally was a chance to reassert his kingmaking role in the GOP by stumping for his slate of preferred statewide candidates for Georgia’s upcoming May 24 primaries, led by former Sen. David Perdue.

“Before we can defeat the Democrat socialists and communists, which is exactly what we’re running against at the ballot box this fall, we first have to defeat the RINOs, the sellouts and the losers in the primaries in the spring,” Trump said, using an acronym for “Republican in name only.” “We have a big primary coming up right here in your state. We’re going to throw out a very, very sad situation that took place, your RINO governor, Brian Kemp, and we’re going to replace him with a very strong person and a fearless fighter and somebody that, frankly, got screwed in the last election, David Perdue.”

Kemp and Trump were once allies, but their relationship soured when Kemp did not illegally overturn the election.

Trump and Perdue continue to maintain the 2020 election was rife with cheating in states including Georgia, claims that have not held up in multiple lawsuits and recounts.

“Let’s get one thing straight, let me be very clear, very clear, in the state of Georgia, thanks to Brian Kemp, our elections in 2020 were absolutely stolen,” said Perdue, who also lost following the 2020 election.

A Monmouth University poll conducted in January found 61% of Republicans believe Biden’s win was due to voter fraud, and 30% say there is definitely or probably still a path to reverse the results and reinstate Trump before 2024.

The 2022 primary will be a test of the extent to which those beliefs will affect their ballot box behavior.

Recent polling has shown Kemp with a significant lead among the party: a Fox News poll of likely primary voters released March 8 shows Kemp with 50% of the vote to Perdue’s 39%.

Attendees Saturday, many of whom wore Perdue stickers on their shirts, largely said they will back the former senator in the primary, but few shared Trump’s scathing assessment of Kemp’s performance in office.

“I don’t have any issues with Governor Kemp, I just think that David Perdue, with his experience, and his agenda is the same agenda as President Trump,” said Missy Jarrott of Savannah.

“That’s why I’m voting for everyone that President Trump has endorsed.”

“He has done a good job, but with president Trump’s endorsement of Perdue, I think we need to get Perdue in there as governor,” said Scott Jones of Banks County.

A few rally goers were on the fence, like Cyndie Morris of northwest Georgia. Morris said she is still put off by Perdue’s decision not to debate now-Sen. Jon Ossoff in 2020.

Photos of Ossoff on a debate stage next to Perdue’s empty podium were heavily featured in Ossoff’s campaign materials.

“I need answers,” Morris said. “I need to know why David Perdue did not show up for the debate. That was inexcusable to me. And the fact that he never gave a reason or an excuse. I think you show up for a debate. I understand that he is Trump’s guy, and he may be my guy, but I want to know why he didn’t show up for that debate when he was supposed to, and he didn’t apologize, and he didn’t have an excuse, and he never even addressed it.”

A Trump endorsement is important, but not the only criteria, said Morris’ northwest Georgia friend Cliff Rhodes.

“We pay attention closely to what President Trump has to say as far as endorsements, but we also listen to the candidate, what his policies are,” he said. “You’ve got to see what he or she does, but yeah, I would say that his recommendations are highly regarded, especially seeing everything that’s going on today.”

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Rhodes said he’s ruled out voting for Kemp in the primary because of his concerns over the election, but he hasn’t landed on Perdue either.

A few other Republican candidates have signed up to run for governor, and the most notable may be Kandiss Taylor, a south Georgia educator whose slogan, “Jesus, guns and babies” was displayed on a smattering of signs and stickers among the crowd.

Republican strategists would prefer for Trump to quit fixating on supposed election fraud, fearing it could discourage GOP voters from casting their ballots in what could be nailbiter races for the governor’s office as well as the Senate, where former University of Georgia football star Herschel Walker is Trump’s favorite to defeat Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock. If Trump is aware of these concerns, he paid them no heed Saturday.

“If Kemp runs, I think Herschel Walker is going to be very seriously and negatively impacted, because Republicans that happen to like

Donald Trump, MAGA Republicans, are not going to go vote for this guy, Kemp,” he said. “And if they don’t vote for Kemp, they’re not going to be able to vote for a great man right there, Herschel Walker, and we don’t want that to happen.”

Republicans sitting out the Senate runoffs after Trump’s loss in 2020 likely played a role in Warnock and Ossoff’s victories, but of the more than a dozen rally attendees the Recorder spoke with Saturday, only one person said they plan to stay home if Kemp is the candidate.

The majority said they’ll back Kemp in the general election if he is the nominee, some with their noses held, others with their heads held high.

For many, that is more of a response to the perceived flaws of presumed Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams than the qualities of Kemp.

Madeline Burns of Columbus, who refers to the governor as “Kemp the wimp” and “not an honorable man,” said she blames him for the party’s election losses in the state, but would still back him against Abrams.

“Abrams is dirty,” she said. “She will turn Georgia into California. We are doomed if we get her.”

For their part, Democrats are happy to cash in on the Trump fissure in the GOP, airing an ad featuring a parody country song lamenting Trump and Kemp’s “break up” and sending a mobile billboard to Commerce claiming the Republican agenda will cut Georgians’ access to health care.

“While Democrats are fighting to improve Georgians’ health care, the Republican agenda puts Trump first and Georgians last, and will keep people from accessing essential health care in communities all across the state,” said Georgia Congresswoman Nikema Williams in a press conference ahead of the rally. “We can’t let that happen.”

Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Georgia Recorder maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John McCosh for questions: info@georgiarecorder.com. Follow Georgia Recorder on Facebook and Twitter.

Critics fume as former Trump official closes in on Georgia's university chancellor job

Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, who also served as United States secretary of agriculture, has been named sole finalist to lead the state’s public college and university system despite worries over his lack of educational experience and fears that his conservative political past may be seen as divisive to some students.

The Georgia Board of Regents voted unanimously to approve Perdue as finalist for chancellor of the University System of Georgia at a special called meeting Tuesday afternoon. By state law, the regents must wait at least 14 days between naming a finalist and voting to approve them. If, as expected, Perdue passes the full vote, he will take the reins from interim Chancellor Teresa MacCartney, who has been leading the system’s 26 public colleges and universities since former Chancellor Steve Wrigley retired in July.

“I consider being named the finalist as the Chancellor of the University System of Georgia to be a wonderful capstone to a career of public service,” Perdue said in a statement. “Education is the most important issue at the federal, state and local level and it’s why, as a legislator, I sought to be chair of the Senate Higher Education committee to work on important initiatives with Gov. Zell Miller and former USG Chancellor Steve Portch.”

Perdue rose through the state Senate as a Democrat before switching parties in 1998 and becoming Georgia’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction in 2002. He handily won re-election in 2006.

In 2017, he was tapped by then-President Donald Trump to serve as agriculture secretary, and he served until the end of Trump’s term.

Board Chair Harold Reynolds said Perdue’s impressive resume makes him an ideal candidate.

“He has extensive background in public service, including government management experience and leadership at the highest levels. He was twice elected by the people of this state to serve as our governor, and he has served our nation as the United States Secretary of Agriculture. He was also the chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, during his time in the Georgia General Assembly. He holds a doctorate of veterinary medicine degree from his beloved alma mater, the University of Georgia, and has a passion for higher education, and specifically for this state’s public colleges and universities. I’m excited about the future of the university system with him at the helm.”

But critics point out that his resume does not include academic leadership.

“He is completely inexperienced in education, and this appointment — though it shouldn’t be — is blatantly political,” reads a Change.org petition with 1,529 signatures created by a group called Stop Sonny. Gov. Brian Kemp sought to fend off those charges in a statement congratulating Perdue released shortly after the hearing.

“As a cabinet level official who was confirmed with overwhelming, bipartisan support, he managed a budget roughly 15 times that of USG and navigated challenging times of disruption that required innovative thinking,” Kemp said. “Georgians will benefit from his decisive and creative leadership over a system which now serves more than 340,000 students. I look forward to working with future Chancellor Perdue to ensure the quality of our higher education continues to be worthy of the best place to live, work, learn, and raise a family.”

Perdue was long reported to be Kemp’s top choice, despite the fact that Perdue’s first cousin, former U.S. Sen. David Perdue is challenging Kemp for the governor’s job. Sonny Perdue helped accelerate Kemp’s political rise by naming him secretary of state in 2010. Although Kemp is now on the outs with Trump for failing to overturn the 2020 election, the former governor reportedly convinced the president to offer Kemp his endorsement in 2018, helping him defeat then-Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle in the GOP primary.

The search has been clouded by charges of political paybacks. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges sent a letter to the Board of Regents warning about undue political interference, and an executive search firm hired to help find the replacement for the retired former Chancellor Steve Wrigley quit last year amid questions of whether Perdue was a done deal.

“The search for a chancellor must be conducted in the open and must include meaningful faculty participation,” the American Association of University Professors wrote in an open letter to the regents Monday. “The USG system deserves and demands a chancellor who understands higher education, who has the confidence of the faculty who work in the system, and who will work to enhance the entire Georgia system to ensure Georgia students have the best educational experience.”

Some of his past political stances may also put Perdue at odds with some in Georgia’s campus communities. His first election as governor was fueled by debate over the 1956 state flag, which his predecessor Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes changed to remove the Confederate cross. Perdue supported a statewide referendum which would have included the old flag with its Confederate symbolism. He later declared April 2006 Confederate History Month in Georgia. Just over a quarter of Georgia’s 340,638 public college students are Black, and for many Georgians, the Confederate flag is an enduring symbol of racist hatred.

Perdue’s full-throated support of Trump also causes heartburn for some young people in a state that narrowly rejected the former president in 2020. Georgians between 18 and 29 supported President Joe Biden over Trump by 56% to 43%, a wider margin than any other age group in the state, according to Washington Post exit polling.

But Perdue’s reputation as a staunch conservative may endear him to other members of the state government, which is still dominated in all three branches by the GOP. Republican lawmakers have filed multiple bills this session seeking to push back against what they see as an increasing cultural shift in Georgia universities, including bills to ban the promotion of “divisive concepts,” in classrooms, and expand campus free speech zones after receiving complaints of censorship from right-wing speakers.

If Perdue wants to weigh in on those hot button issues, he did not signal that Tuesday, instead vowing to support students in learning and employees in teaching.

“I want to make a difference by providing leadership and resources so that faculty can thrive in their teaching, research and service and students are inspired and supported so they graduate, find rewarding careers and become productive citizens,” he said. “I am honored to be considered for such an important role.”


Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Georgia Recorder maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John McCosh for questions: info@georgiarecorder.com. Follow Georgia Recorder on Facebook and Twitter.

Critics fume as Sonny Perdue closes in on Georgia’s university chancellor job

Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, who also served as United States secretary of agriculture, has been named sole finalist to lead the state’s public college and university system despite worries over his lack of educational experience and fears that his conservative political past may be seen as divisive to some students.

The Georgia Board of Regents voted unanimously to approve Perdue as finalist for chancellor of the University System of Georgia at a special called meeting Tuesday afternoon. By state law, the regents must wait at least 14 days between naming a finalist and voting to approve them. If, as expected, Perdue passes the full vote, he will take the reins from interim Chancellor Teresa MacCartney, who has been leading the system’s 26 public colleges and universities since former Chancellor Steve Wrigley retired in July.

“I consider being named the finalist as the Chancellor of the University System of Georgia to be a wonderful capstone to a career of public service,” Perdue said in a statement. “Education is the most important issue at the federal, state and local level and it’s why, as a legislator, I sought to be chair of the Senate Higher Education committee to work on important initiatives with Gov. Zell Miller and former USG Chancellor Steve Portch.”

Perdue rose through the state Senate as a Democrat before switching parties in 1998 and becoming Georgia’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction in 2002. He handily won re-election in 2006.

In 2017, he was tapped by then-President Donald Trump to serve as agriculture secretary, and he served until the end of Trump’s term.

Board Chair Harold Reynolds said Perdue’s impressive resume makes him an ideal candidate.

“He has extensive background in public service, including government management experience and leadership at the highest levels. He was twice elected by the people of this state to serve as our governor, and he has served our nation as the United States Secretary of Agriculture. He was also the chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, during his time in the Georgia General Assembly. He holds a doctorate of veterinary medicine degree from his beloved alma mater, the University of Georgia, and has a passion for higher education, and specifically for this state’s public colleges and universities. I’m excited about the future of the university system with him at the helm.”

But critics point out that his resume does not include academic leadership.

“He is completely inexperienced in education, and this appointment — though it shouldn’t be — is blatantly political,” reads a Change.org petition with 1,529 signatures created by a group called Stop Sonny. Gov. Brian Kemp sought to fend off those charges in a statement congratulating Perdue released shortly after the hearing.

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“As a cabinet level official who was confirmed with overwhelming, bipartisan support, he managed a budget roughly 15 times that of USG and navigated challenging times of disruption that required innovative thinking,” Kemp said. “Georgians will benefit from his decisive and creative leadership over a system which now serves more than 340,000 students. I look forward to working with future Chancellor Perdue to ensure the quality of our higher education continues to be worthy of the best place to live, work, learn, and raise a family.”

Perdue was long reported to be Kemp’s top choice, despite the fact that Perdue’s first cousin, former U.S. Sen. David Perdue is challenging Kemp for the governor’s job. Sonny Perdue helped accelerate Kemp’s political rise by naming him secretary of state in 2010. Although Kemp is now on the outs with Trump for failing to overturn the 2020 election, the former governor reportedly convinced the president to offer Kemp his endorsement in 2018, helping him defeat then-Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle in the GOP primary.

The search has been clouded by charges of political paybacks. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges sent a letter to the Board of Regents warning about undue political interference, and an executive search firm hired to help find the replacement for the retired former Chancellor Steve Wrigley quit last year amid questions of whether Perdue was a done deal.

“The search for a chancellor must be conducted in the open and must include meaningful faculty participation,” the American Association of University Professors wrote in an open letter to the regents Monday. “The USG system deserves and demands a chancellor who understands higher education, who has the confidence of the faculty who work in the system, and who will work to enhance the entire Georgia system to ensure Georgia students have the best educational experience.”

Some of his past political stances may also put Perdue at odds with some in Georgia’s campus communities. His first election as governor was fueled by debate over the 1956 state flag, which his predecessor Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes changed to remove the Confederate cross. Perdue supported a statewide referendum which would have included the old flag with its Confederate symbolism. He later declared April 2006 Confederate History Month in Georgia. Just over a quarter of Georgia’s 340,638 public college students are Black, and for many Georgians, the Confederate flag is an enduring symbol of racist hatred.

Perdue’s full-throated support of Trump also causes heartburn for some young people in a state that narrowly rejected the former president in 2020. Georgians between 18 and 29 supported President Joe Biden over Trump by 56% to 43%, a wider margin than any other age group in the state, according to Washington Post exit polling.

But Perdue’s reputation as a staunch conservative may endear him to other members of the state government, which is still dominated in all three branches by the GOP. Republican lawmakers have filed multiple bills this session seeking to push back against what they see as an increasing cultural shift in Georgia universities, including bills to ban the promotion of “divisive concepts,” in classrooms, and expand campus free speech zones after receiving complaints of censorship from right-wing speakers.

If Perdue wants to weigh in on those hot button issues, he did not signal that Tuesday, instead vowing to support students in learning and employees in teaching.

“I want to make a difference by providing leadership and resources so that faculty can thrive in their teaching, research and service and students are inspired and supported so they graduate, find rewarding careers and become productive citizens,” he said. “I am honored to be considered for such an important role.”

Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Georgia Recorder maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John McCosh for questions: info@georgiarecorder.com. Follow Georgia Recorder on Facebook and Twitter.