Problems in GA GOP 3rd District Committee

In the midst of the drama over Glenn Richardson at the beginning of December, we received a tip about some unrest in the Georgia GOP 3rd District Committee involving Lane Watts (Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook), chairman of the district organization (pictured).

Concerns were evidently expressed late in the summer over a series of allegedly unauthorized expenses from debit cards in the possession of Watts and Debbie Groninger (LinkedIn), then-3rd District treasurer. Based on the information forwarded, the 3rd district organization formed an Audit Committee on August 22 to investigate the matter.

The Audit Committee, with assistance from Georgia GOP Treasurer Bob Mayzes (involved at the request of state Chairwoman Sue Everhart), released its report on September 22 and found that Groninger had failed to maintain proper records and accounting standards. She had, per the report, also failed to receive approval from the district organization for expenditures. They also found that Watts had exceeded his authority to spend the organization’s funds and faulted the district organization and executive committee for their lack of oversight.

Furthermore, the Audit Committee found $5,137.66 in “questionable transactions” ranging from overdraft charges, meals, fuel, ATM withdrawals, website expenses and expenses at the state GOP convention in 2008. Among the results of the audit is a note that “[n]o other districts in Georgia regularly compensate District Officers for meals or fuel” and that “no receipts were submitted for the ATM withdrawals.”

On December 7, notice was sent to Georgia GOP 3rd District Committee of a meeting to be held yesterday in order to remove Watts. In accordance with the committee’s rules, eight members or officers had to sign the notice (ten signed on).

The reasons for removal were listed as:

  • Failure to respond to elected officers.
  • Failure to perform fiduciary responsibilities as to District Funds.
  • Basic failure to work with District Committee to further the Republican efforts in the 3rd Congressional District.

Watts retaliated with his own call for the removal of six officers, which was signed by two other members/officers.

His reasons for removing these members:

  • The holding of unauthorized meetings in which they conducted District business and excluded other members of the District Committee and District Executive Committee
  • Failure to perform duties of their offices and complete assignments given to them by the District Chairman and District Committee
  • Behavior that is disrespectful to the District Chairman and the full District Committee and is a detriment to the Republican Party’s public image and standing
  • The 3rd Vice Chairman, in his capacity as Rules Committee Chairman, exceeded the mandate given him by the District Committee and completely revamped the District Rules. He also excluded duly appointed members from the committee and its process
  • Through their actions, they have negated the process of handling controversies as outlined in the District and State Rules

Following this exchange, Georgia GOP Treasurer Bob Mayzes sent an e-mail to a much broader audience of state party leaders and called for Watts to resign:

[Typical Republican factions fighting among themselves] is how you described it in a meeting last August with State Chairman Sue Everhart, State General Counsel Anne Lewis and me. Per your explanation, the problem is caused by officers elected at last April’s District Convention. They just don’t want to work with you; they are out to get you and are falsely accusing you. We believed you and offered our help. Since then, I have observed otherwise. I believe when the facts come out others will agree with me and call for you to resign.

Watts was contacted about all this earlier last week for comment. He responded with interest in discussing the story, but did not follow up.

Evidently, though, Watts saw the proverbial writing on the wall for he resigned before the meeting set for yesterday (Saturday morning) to discuss the issues at hand.

28 comments

  1. appachtrail70 says:

    Evidentially it Bob Mayzes felt it was his duty to send numerous emails out to GOP officials in the entire state about this. Bob, no one cares about 3rd district problems out of the 3rd district.

    This story is missing how Debbie Groninger “Fayette County” ran against Bob Doll “Muscogee County” for State GOP first vice-chair. The leader of the audit committee is from Muscogee.

    • gritsnga says:

      correction…. nobody from Muscogee was the leader of the audit committee. the audit committee was all county chairs with the Coweta Cty Chairman as committee chair, elected or selected by the committee. Debbie ran against Rob Doll before any of this stuff became an issue.

    • gritsnga says:

      not hardly, expenses should be approved by the District Committee, That’s what the District rules say..

  2. Jane says:

    This could get interesting. Lane is a nice guy who does not do anything without running it by his mom first, but let the auditors do there business and do not jump to any conclusions.

  3. Mike Hauncho says:

    Lane is a great guy and someone who I trust very much. I do not know if the allegations are true but none the less I hate to see good people publically attacked by people who do not know the whole story. I wish Lane the best and hope everyone will reserve the attacks until all the facts are in.

    • Mozart says:

      That’s pretty irrelevant, but thanks for playing “This isn’t going to make any sense, but I’m just going to throw it out there because”

  4. ArnoldVinick2006 says:

    Also one thing that this report doesnt say is how former Treasurer Debbie Groninger refused to hand over the Account to the newly elected Treasurer. She was legally supposed to hand over the account and the books 10 days after the 3rd discrict convetnion in April. I Belive that they werent handed over until late august or early September.

    Yes Debbie Groninger is part of the oxendine campaign. She can be seen at the end of this contract with Georgia video.

    • we need a woman front-page poster says:

      such a great commercial but it doesn’t top the rat video. Ox must be hiring the best high school seniors he can find. 😉

  5. FountainCityTerror says:

    “Evidentially it Bob Mayzes felt it was his duty to send numerous emails out to GOP officials in the entire state about this. Bob, no one cares about 3rd district problems out of the 3rd district.”

    Yes, we shouldn’t care about potential corruption or misuse of money. Because that surely doesn’t affect electoral chances and fundraising! What must he been thinking!?!?

  6. West Georgia Elephant says:

    Debbie Groninger Does work with the Oxendine Campaign. Shes in One of the Videos. The One after the King Roy Video.

  7. Lane Watts says:

    A manufactured controversy, generated by rumors, innuendo and outright falsehoods, has gotten in the way of the true purpose and mission of the 3rd District Committee. The purpose of the District Committee is to help elect Republicans to office and in particular, elect a Republican Congressman. This is what we should be concentrating on instead of engaging in petty bickering and character assassination.

    I spoke to Congressman Westmoreland prior to Saturday’s meeting and shared with him my decision to resign. He was very supportive and greatly regretted my decision. I am grateful for the opportunity to work so closely with him the last 3 years. There are a number of malcontents within the district organization, many of whom supported Congressman Westmoreland’s primary opponent in 2004 and who are driving this controversy. Apparently, they have been unable to move on and do not care about the damage they are doing to the district GOP organization that exists to help elect the Congressman.

    In no way should my resignation be seen as an admission of anything. Rather, it indicates my desire to place the interests and welfare of the Party as my primary consideration. Others would do well to do the same.

    I look forward to continuing to work toward electing good men and women to public office at all levels of government without the constraint of a party office and title.

    • Ken in Eastman says:

      Best of luck, Lane. You are a well-respected Republican and have earned my respect over the years.

    • gritsnga says:

      The proof of the matter rests with the audit report that was submited by all County Chairs. It did not have anything but facts from the checking account. These facts did show money spent without any receipts or approval. The report is public record and is based of the facts. There has not been any response from the district Chair to phone calls, e mails, USPS, or any other communication. The folks elected at the same time as lane Watts did everything possible to work with him. There was many attempts to solve the controversy within the District Executive Committee. No response or communication was received to even try and solve the problems.
      No falsehoods, no manufactured controversy, no rumors or innuendos, only the facts, that a lot was done that should not have been done by the Chairman and the Treasurer. The District is ready to move on and elect good men and women to office.
      and…. we know that Lynn Westmoreland is our Congressman and we support him. The 2004 election had nothing to do with this 3rd District issue. It is a real shame that it was ever mentioned by the past Chairman.

      • Mozart says:

        “There has not been any response from the district Chair to phone calls, e mails, USPS, or any other communication. The folks elected at the same time as lane Watts did everything possible to work with him. There was many attempts to solve the controversy within the District Executive Committee. No response or communication was received to even try and solve the problems.”

        This strikes my memory as exactly what people told me Lane Watts did in his office on the Georgia Federation of YRs some 10-12 years ago. He ignored phone calls, e-mails and any attempts to reach him back then.

    • Swinger8 says:

      What is pitiful is the people from Muscogee County. Poor things they are frustrated because they live in a solid Democrat county. Maybe that is why they lash out at the successful GOP counties. Put some of your energy toward electing Republicans, guys. Then you can have a seat at the table, instead of backdooring it.

      • gritsnga says:

        what is really pitiful… is some that try and push blame to others and avoid the true facts. lane Watts did things that he was not elected to do. He did spend money without district approval, he did not return phone call, e mails, he did refuse to accept mail sent by USPS, so did the treasurer at that time. He might try and say that he resignation is not a admission of anything, well if he was not guility, he would have not resigned. The officers that asked for the meeting to remove him had all the proff needed to remove him. the votes were there from everyone except his Mother, treasurer that was a party to his wrong doing, and several that do what he wants, even if they know he is wrong. Muscogee County had the same number of votes that every other county had, no more and no less. It might be added that the Muscogee County folks were not part of the removal process, It was a movement among every county in the District except Fayette. Muscogee County knows how to get elected and front door is the way in and the way out for lane. I also thought the table was open to everbody, Muscogee County is already at the table, from the front door.I don’t think Fayette is the only successful County in the District, and they are not the 3rd District by themselves. no matter what some might think., I am sure Muscogee does not want to be like Lane. They are working for more truthful people to run and people that are ethical in what they do. Republicans have to hold a higher standard and lane did not do that. Please check your facts and not throw stones at those that want good leadership and expect them to perform as they should. It is not wrong to expect those elected to any office, County, District or any other to do what is right, do what is expected, and be responsibile for the money that is so hard to obtain. Hars working Republicans all over the 3rd District saw the money they helped raise be spent on things like gas, groceries, fast food, non existant web sites, use of debit cards, and other items not or ever approved by the District Committee. Our rules are clear on that. The 3rd District are ready to put this stuff behind us and move to the election of Conservative Republicans, but some want to allow this to fester and be kept in the headlines. This is not productive. If lane really wants to elect good people he will stop trying to blame everybody else and accept the fact that he did it all to him self and then move forward

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