Secretary of State Fails to Cite Legal Authority to Amend Ballot
Governor Deal fails to protect ballot integrity
July 19, 2012, Roswell, GA – Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has failed to cite any legal authority for his decision to add a preamble promoting the passage of a sales tax increase to the ballot for 2012 Georgia Primary. Noted Atlanta attorney Pitts Carr submitted the formal inquiry asking Kemp to cite the legal authority for his decision to alter the ballot for the July 31 election. Carr sent the request on behalf the Transportation Leadership Coalition (TLC), a citizens group opposed to passage of the sales tax increase.
“It is deeply offensive that Secretary Kemp has turned the ballot into political propaganda designed to promote this pro-tax agenda,” said Jack Staver, chairman of the Transportation Leadership Coalition. “On top of third parties spending millions of dollars on television ads, employer meetings, and voter registration drives to try to pass the largest tax in Georgia history, we have now tax proponents who are elected officials commit the unprecedented act of altering the ballot with language designed to influence voters.”
TLC originally uncovered Kemp’s abuse in early June and issued a public call for Governor Nathan Deal to intervene and protect the integrity of Georgia’s ballot. Governor Deal, one of the biggest supporters of the Referendum 1 tax increase, failed to respond to the pleas of citizens for help on this issue.
Following the Governor’s failure to act, TLC retained Atlanta attorney Pitts Carr to submit a formal request for all records relating to Kemp’s act of altering the ballot to include promotional language. Carr’s letter specifically asked Kemp “under what authority is it claimed that the language may be placed on the ballot?”
Kemp responded by releasing documents from supporters of the tax increase recommending the promotional language be added to the ballot. At no point in his response letter does Kemp attempt to cite the legal authority for his action. An earlier response from the general counsel for the secretary of state mistakenly referred to the T-SPLOST ballot question as a constitutional amendment to justify the action.
“Kemp is trying to hide behind a smoke screen to defend the addition of the language,” said Staver. “Sure the language Kemp added is misleading, but the real issue is that it would not have mattered if the language said God bless America and eat apple pie. The simple fact is no single person, including the secretary of state, has the legal authority to add whatever language he or she chooses to our ballot.”
Transportation Leadership Coalition plans to meet with Carr and determine the appropriate next steps in the hopes of avoiding a “tainted” election.
For more information, please contact Pitts Carr at (404) 442-9000
About Transportation Leadership Coalition, LLC
Transportation Leadership Coalition, LLC, is a grassroots, all-volunteer organization that has come together in the belief that the State of Georgia can do a much better job of transportation planning than passing the largest tax increase in Georgia history and spending the money on politically-favored rail projects, trapping us into a tax situation that will continue forever. We believe that if Georgians understand the facts about the project list and the proposed management of the funds and projects, they will overwhelmingly reject it.