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.