The saga continues.

Anonymous Sign

Signs such as the one above are popping up around Gwinnett’s Commission District Four as the anonymous war being waged against Commissioner Kevin Kenerly continues. The anonymous campaign, alleged to be orchestrated by local political consultant Bill McKinney, is spending big bucks. The source of these funds remains a mystery, but I suspect that secret will not remain one for much longer. McKinney is also alleged to be involved with the campaign of one of Kenerly’s opponents, Jodie Rosser.

A new development in this saga is the uncovering of the owner of the bulk mail permit being used to send out the anonymous mailings. As I mentioned before, permit #1402 was used to mail these anonymous mailpieces. Gwinnett activist Bob Griggs posted this on his website:

The DVDs were mailed on June 26 using Bulk Mail Permit #1402. That permit belongs to ABC Direct Marketing, P.O. Box 293, Grayson GA 30017, the mail house of Auveed and Chris Cauthon. Auveed is the daughter of Snellville Citizen Publisher Carolyn Bagheri. In fact, Chris himself signed in the 9,800 mail pieces at the post office.

ABC Direct Marketing has been used on numerous occasions by Bill McKinney and his clients to send campaign mailers. Commission Chairman Charles Bannister paid Auveed and Chris Cauthon over $40,000 for more than half a dozen mailers in 2004.

The mailer had a return address of “BeatKevin.com, P.O. Box 3172, Cumming, GA.” It could be argued that the Cauthons facilitated the distribution of a mailer that they knew or should have known violated the Ethics in Government Act, especially since, as I suspect, they received the content directly from Bill McKinney and not “Bob Walter” of Cumming. At the very least, the State Ethics Commission could start with the Cauthons if and when an investigation is initiated.

I have already pinned McKinney to the registration of the domain; the Cauthons could be compelled to provide information on the financing of this mailer.

What’s odd about Cauthon’s involvement is that the newspaper owned by his mother, displays an ad from Kevin Kenerly on it’s website. Furthermore, the Snellville Citizen (which also goes by the name Gwinnett Citizen) has often been harshly critical of Bill McKinney.

On the other hand, the Citizen‘s owner loathes Bob Griggs, which would explain the attempt to label Griggs as the source of the anonymous mailing by redirecting “beatkevin.com” to Griggs’ website.

I realize this is confusing, but Gwinnett politics often is. Loyalty is often non-existent as demonstrated by the fact that Kenerly hired McKinney earlier this year to find out who might be running against him. McKinney took the money even as he himself was searching for a candidate to challenge Kenerly (and then filed an ethics complaint when Kenerly failed to report the payment). In fact, McKinney approached me about taking Kenerly on last year earlier this year.

Other posts on this subject:July 8th
July 2nd
June 28th
June 11th

31 comments

  1. jackson says:

    McKinney seems like a real slimeball. But I am no fan of big developers like Kenerly and Wayne Hill. Ugh.

  2. Bill Simon says:

    Again, if you folks in Gwinnett would actually READ the Bible instead of wrapping yourself around it at every opportunity, this stuff wouldn’t happen!

  3. buzzbrockway says:

    Well, you have to actually want the job to run for it. I told my wife if I ever came home and said “I want to run for County Commissioner” to shoot me on the spot.

  4. Broty says:

    Fair enough. It would be a shame for you kids to grow up without their parents just because there weren’t any good candidates running in the 4th.

    Besides, with all the behind the scenes “intrigue” going on throughout the campaign, I can see why many would not want to run.

  5. JasonW says:

    So, whats up with People named McKinney…ESPECIALLY some random guy named BILL McKinney? Coincidence? hmmm….I think the McKinney name = LUNATIC

  6. Bill Simon says:

    The 1995 US Supreme Court decison of McIntyre v. Ohio State Elections Commission would have voided this Georgia state law back in 2006 had it made it’s way to a real trial.

    Bill McKenney acted correctly; the Georgia state law in place at the time was unconstitutional in and of itself.

    But, I know, Buzz Brockway and the rest of the Gwinnettians don’t really care about simplistic concepts like the Rule of Law. Read this legal decisions and weep:

    http://supct.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/93-986.ZO.html

  7. Wow. Who knew that Bill McKinney was a crusader for Constitutional rights? I sure didn’t. I thought he just wanted to defeat Kevin Kenerly by any means necessary.

  8. Bill Simon says:

    Buzz,

    You must really love crooked commissioners because ALL you seem to be concerned with is how messages were delivered rather than the fact that Kenerly is dirty.

    You’re more into “shoot the messenger” than reading the message.

  9. And if Bill McKinney had simply followed the law we may have Jodie Rosser as a Commissioner (-shudder-). Instead he arrogantly snubbed Georgia law and hey, he got away with it. I fully expect him or someone else to do the same thing in the future.

    My problem with that whole episode was that if a person or people could get together and anonymously try to impact the outcome of an election we’re all in trouble. I know that’s not a big deal to some but it is to me.

    The ends don’t always justify the means.

  10. Bill Simon says:

    Buzz,

    AGAIN…it was all truthful information that McKinney was mailing.

    You really have a problem with the truth being spread, don’t you? You’re a lot like Mark Rountree and the AJC: YOU want to be able to control how the information gets out.

    People like you would be a lot happier if the fascists were in control of the media and the elections. Too bad, Buzz. We still live in a free republic…and we residents of this free republic like to have the OPTION of not knowing where all of the information comes from. We like that concept…and, I’ll bet there are more of people like me than there are of fascists like you and Maureen Downey at the AJC.

  11. So what you’re saying is that as long as the information is correct the State’s Ethics laws don’t need to be followed? Surely you don’t really believe that.

    You’re not making sense Bill. You want information hidden from people (as McKinney tried to do) yet I’m the fascist?

    You say the ends justify the means and that we should have replaced Kevin Kenerly with a woman who had no clue what the Commission did (I heard her speak a few times and she was clueless) and only ran because her daddy wanted her to, yet I’m the one who loves corruption?

    One other thing. When Danny Porter went after McKinney you came down hard on him. Now, Porter is looking into Butch Conway’s activities (as he should) relating to Joe Newton’s past. Is Porter still a political hack or does he just try to follow the law? I applaud Porter on both these cases, not just when it benefits the side I happen to be on. How about you Bill? Shouldn’t the law be applied consistently?

  12. Bill Simon says:

    Buzz,

    Again, the information (which was VIDEO-TAPE on a CD) was a factual event. Kevin Kenerly in Las Vegas playing around with developers. That is what was being mailed to the voters. FACTS, Buzz, were being mailed.

    It the information was FACTUAL, Buzz, then why are you so concerned with who was paying for it to get it out?

    THAT is where the concept of you being a fascist comes from. Look at what happened to Joe Newton’s life. HE disclosed who was paying for the information (HIMSELF) and he gets attacked and assailed by ex-FBI ass*holes being paid by SOMEONE. How come you’re not all up in arms over who that SOMEONE is, Buzz?

    Because you’re a damn fool is why, Buzz. All you care about is who is sending the info, not what the info actually is. Fascists only care about who the source is so they can go attack and beat that source up who dares to challenge their authority.

  13. Bill Simon says:

    With regards to Porter in 2006, Porter was out of line because the law did not allow him, at that time, to assume he had jurisdiction.

    If he has legal jurisdiction, then I am all in favor of Porter investigating.

    He didn’t have legal jurisdiction in 2006, Buzz. the Georgia Supreme Court (all Dems and GOP members) decided unanimously that he was out of line because he didn’t have jurisdiction.

    Rule of Law, Buzz. Don’t forget that the Rule of Law states who has jurisdiction over these matters. Porter was wrong in 2006.

    AND, the new law just into effect July 1 will allow people like Joe Newton to spend their money WITHOUT having to open themselves up to punishment and retribution by the likes of YOUR friends, Buzz. Your fascist pals who cloak themselves in “I’m a conservative Republican” bullsh*t.

  14. Bill Simon says:

    Minor correction: When I stated above that “[Newton] disclosed who was paying for the information (HIMSELF) and he gets attacked and assailed by ex-FBI ass*holes being paid by SOMEONE”,
    I did not mean that literally. Newton had his background investigated by ex-FBI ass*holes; Newton was not physically attacked.

  15. Didn’t I just say I supported Porter’s investigation?

    True, I don’t like Bill McKinney and his tactics. But I’m against anyone who does what McKinney did. Laws must be followed – all the time by everyone. You want laws to be selectively applied, depending on whether or not the potential outcome benefits your candidate.

    I never said what Joe Newton was doing was illegal or the same as what McKinney did – ’cause it’s not. Joe had the courage to disclose who he was. McKinney is too much of a coward to do the same. As I told you on the phone the other day, anyone who’s been paying attention wouldn’t be surprised by Joe’s activities because he’s done it before – not to the extent of going to a Grand Jury – but he’s spent plenty of money to support and oppose people as is his right.

    Don’t muddy the waters Bill. We’re talking about Bill McKinney here….or do you have something else on your mind?

  16. shep1975 says:

    Bill, I think you are grossly misinterpreting the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) opinion in McIntyre v. Ohio as holding unconstitutional the Georgia Ethics in Government Act as it pertained to Bill McKinney.

    First off, McIntyre is distinguishable from the Georgia case in that the issue in McIntyre involved an individual citizen passing out handbills that she herself had printed and she herself was personally distributing. The issue for the Court in McIntyre was whether Section 3599.09(A) of the Ohio Code’s anonymous speech ban was justified by Ohio’s asserted interests in preventing fraudulent and libelous statements and in providing the electorate with relevant information.

    Mr. McKinney was charged for violating OCGA 21-5-34(a)(1)(A) which states, “The candidate or the chairperson or treasurer of each campaign committee organized to bring about the nomination or election of a candidate for any office except county and municipal offices or the General Assembly and the chairperson or treasurer of every campaign committee designed to bring about the recall of a public officer or to oppose the recall of a public officer or designed to bring about the approval or rejection by the voters of any proposed constitutional amendment, state-wide proposed question, or statewide referendum shall sign and file with the [State Ethics C]ommission the required campaign contribution disclosure reports.”

    In addition, OCGA § 21-5-34 (f) (1) mandates that an independent committee “shall file disclosure reports” with the State Ethics Commission regarding contributions and expenditures.

    OCGA § 21-5-9 criminalizes the failure to file these reports, stating that “[e]xcept as otherwise provided in this chapter, any person who knowingly fails to comply with or who knowingly violates this chapter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.””

    As defined in the code under 21-5-3(2), a “campaign committee” is, “…the candidate, person, or committee which accepts contributions or makes expenditures designed to bring about the nomination or election of an individual to any elected office…”

    The state interest in prohibiting anonymous campaign expenditures in Georgia does not rest on the issues that Ohio brought forth or ones that are even at issue in the election code requiring disclosure. In fact, under Georgia law, an individual may spend up to $500 without disclosure.

    The state interest that is being protected in Georgia is a state goal of avoiding corruption that might result from independent expenditures. In State Advisory Opinion S.E.C. 2001-32, the State Ethics Commission in trying to decide if communications made by Georgia Right to Life was of such a nature that GRTL would be considered an “independent committee” under the Ethics in Government Act.

    The Commission looked at the communications and found they were not of a nature that expressly advocated for the election or defeat of a certain candidate. The Commission stated in its opinion,

    “However, in order to conclude that a communication is for the purpose of ‘affecting the outcome of an election’ for an elected office as contemplated by the statute, it is necessary to determine what criteria must be present to conclude that a communication is made for the purpose of ‘affecting the outcome of an election.’

    Such criteria are also relevant to ascertaining whether a group is an ‘independent committee’ under H.B. 1630, for part of the definition of such committees speaks of accepting donations and expending ‘…such funds either for the purpose of affecting the outcome of an election for any elected office or to advocate the election or defeat of any particular candidate.’ Section 2, H.B. 1630, to be codified as O.C.G.A. § 21-5-3(12.1).

    The second part of the definition – ‘to advocate the election or defeat of any particular candidate’ – is instructive, because it apparently acknowledges and adopts the express advocacy standard set out in Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1, at 44 (1976) as ‘communications containing express words of advocacy of election or defeat, such as ‘vote for’, ‘elect’, ‘cast your ballot for’, ‘Smith for Congress’, ‘vote against’, ‘defeat’, ‘reject.’”

    Not only is the Ethics Commission’s decision here helpful in shining some light on the charges against Mr. McKinney, but the SCOTUS brought up how the issues in Buckley were distinguishable from the issues in McIntyre. In McIntyre, the Court said,

    “Not only is the Ohio statute’s infringement on speech more intrusive than the Buckley disclosure requirement, but it rests on different and less powerful state interests. The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, at issue in Buckley, regulates only candidate elections, not referenda or other issue based ballot measures; and we construed “independent expenditures” to mean only those expenditures that “expressly advocate the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate.” Id., at 80. In candidate elections, the Government can identify a compelling state interest in avoiding the corruption that might result from campaign expenditures. Disclosure of expenditures lessens the risk that individuals will spend money to support a candidate as a quid pro quo for special treatment after the candidate is in office. Curriers of favor will be deterred by the knowledge that all expenditures will be scrutinized by the Federal Election Commission and by the public for just this sort of abuse. Moreover, the federal Act contains numerous legitimate disclosure requirements for campaign organizations; the similar requirements for independent expenditures serve to ensure that a campaign organization will not seek to evade disclosure by routing its expenditures through individual supporters. See Buckley, 424 U. S., at 76. In short, although Buckley may permit a more narrowly drawn statute, it surely is not authority for upholding Ohio’s open ended provision.”

    By printing anti-Kenerly yard signs, sending out thousands of anti-Kenerly mail pieces, and posting an anti-Kenerly website, it is clear that Mr. McKinney was making expenditures intended to advocate for the defeat of Mr. Kenerly, a candidate for public office, well over the $500 limit imposed by the State of Georgia. It is also clear that the purpose of the Ethics in Government Act is to advance a state interest similar to the federal disclose requirements for independent expenditure that were upheld in Buckley. Mr. McKinney’s speech was protected by the First Amendment, but by the sheer volume of it, his anonymity was not. While I realize that Gwinnett County is very large and County Commission districts have a lot of voters that must be reached, to compare the actions of Ms. McIntyre with her handbills and Mr. McKinney with his well run campaign machine involving thousands of dollars is intellectually dishonest.

    You are right Bill, it IS about the rule of law. However, according to the US Supreme Court, you are dead on the wrong side of that law.

  17. Bill Simon says:

    Shep,

    This statement of yours concerns me greatly: “Mr. McKinney’s speech was protected by the First Amendment, but by the sheer volume of it, his anonymity was not. “

    WHAT? THIS sounds a lot like the argument by judges who declare “I cannot define what obscenity is, but I’ll know it when I see it.”

    I.E., Shep, in stating this, YOU place an arbitrary limit by a subjective term like “sheer volume.”

    “Sheer volume” compared to WHAT? Whose definition, Shep? Yours? Be careful, Shep, with that UGA diploma hanging on your wall, you don’t want to contemplate too large of a number to fathom how large “sheer volume” would ever have to consist of to pass muster with a bunch of fellow UGA degreed-lawyers sitting on a bench. 🙂

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