Gwinnett DA Danny Porter says the investigation into the anonymous campaign against Commissioner Kevin Kenerly did not end with the indictments today of political consultant Bill McKinney and his associate Nancy Allison Walter. Porter told the AJC’s Ben Smith that:
…..investigators had uncovered “a blatant pattern of deception” in the operation of beatkevin.com, which McKinney set up. Porter called beatkevin.com an unregistered political action committee and said it did not report its contributions and expenditures.
“This shows an intentional, knowing attempt to circumvent the disclosure requirements of the law,” Porter said.
Porter refused to identify other possible targets in the probe but said Kenerly’s opponent in the primary runoff election Tuesday, Jodie Rosser, had refused through her attorney to come to his office to answer questions about beatkevin.com and the anti-Kenerly campaign.
Rosser said Thursday she wasn’t dodging Porter. She denied any involvement in beatkevin.com.
“I guess, as an attorney, it seems a little unusual to have all this activity so close to the election,” says Rosser, who is a real estate closing lawyer.
What’s Porter’s interest in Rosser? Smith reports:
Porter’s interest in Rosser is unclear. But last week, an investigator from his office contacted a competing political consultant and the owner of a Decatur sign company about a visit by McKinney to the shop, which both witnessed, to pick up Rosser yard signs.
“He told me they were investigating the events regarding the Jodie Rosser campaign and he said he was interested in Bill McKinney,” said Todd Rehm, a McKinney adversary who’s worked on opposing political campaigns.
Porter drew another link between Rosser and McKinney Thursday by revealing that beatkevin.com cut a $600 check to Rosser’s press secretary, Loretta Paraguassu.
Paraguassu said the check, written on May 23, was a personal loan from Bill Mc-Kinney to help pay her telephone bill.
“I needed money and Bill’s an old acquaintance,” Paraguassu said. “He said he was out of cash and all he had was that check.”
McKinney and Paraguassu are more than old acquaintances, they’ve dated.
Duane Stanford of the AJC filed another story this evening with more details:
McKinney has said the case is about his right to freely speak out against a politician he calls “dishonest.” Kenerly says the case is about an illegal campaign to trash his reputation from the shadows.
Porter, who is prosecuting the case he says is the first of its kind in Gwinnett, said it’s about telling voters what they need to know to make fair choices in the voting booth.
“If this was allowed to continue, it would change the landscape of the electorate,” Porter said Thursday.
McKinney said he retained criminal defense lawyer Jerry Froelich on Thursday.
The chain of events that led to this week’s indictments began in March, when McKinney said he paid Las Vegas-based Elite Investigations $3,000 to follow Kenerly during a three-day gambling trip to Caesar’s Palace.
McKinney, who is close friends with Gwinnett Commission Chairman Charles Bannister, says he blamed Kenerly for several land purchases the commission made in his district in recent years.
McKinney said he believed the county paid too much for the land, bought for a park and a road.
“I decided to gaslight the guy to put him on TV and the newspapers,” McKinney said.
WSB has a video report of today’s events. In it, McKinney’s attorney complains that these charges are only misdemeanors and not worth bothering with. However, coupled with the felony charge of attempting to intimidate a witness, the charges carry a maximum of 34 years in jail. I don’t know about you, but 34 years is a long time.
Finally, I received a mailing from Rosser yesterday making the claim that:
Jodie Rosser Will Insist On Honest, Ethical Government
I had to laugh.