Olens Responds to Smith

The other night during the Georgia Attorney General debate, Preston Smith made an allegation that Sam Olens was once the Treasurer of the Cobb County Democratic Party and supported President Clinton. There was a dispute as to this, and Smith produced a newspaper article from the early nineties as his evidence. You can watch a clip of this here.

Well the Marietta Daily Journal has Olens’ response:

Smith referenced a Feb. 25, 1992, article in the MDJ by Joe Kirby titled “Clinton garners support from county Democrats.”

The article reports how then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton was endorsed that week in his presidential bid by most high-ranking Cobb Democrats. The article lists members of the Cobb Chapter of the Clinton for President Committee, describing Olens as a member, as well as the treasurer of the Cobb Democratic Party.

Yet Olens told the Journal he was not on any committee to help elect Clinton, nor did he contribute to his campaign.

“As a young attorney, I considered myself an independent and sometimes voted Democrat. As I matured, I realized the Republican Party much better represented my values and beliefs,” Olens said.

Olens said his Republican credentials are clear, having been an elected Republican for 12 years with a proven conservative record, endorsed by more than 150 elected Republicans statewide.

“We need to keep in mind that even Ronald Reagan was once a Democrat,” Olens said. “Our first Republican governor of Georgia was once a Democrat. And two of the leading Republican candidates for governor were once Democrats. I am proud of my record as an elected official and the voters would be better served if we would remain focused on the issues facing Georgia.”

And so it goes. I have a number of problems with Olens’ response. Either you were or you weren’t – just go with it. In my mind it does not really matter. This state use to be a Democratic state. Mike Bowers was a Democrat at one point. If you were a Democrat once, that is fine – as you said Reagan was too.

But our first Republican Governor was Rufus B. Bullock – and unless my memory is failing me, he wasn’t a Democrat.


  1. Very interesting. I don’t see a problem with Sam Olens being a Democrat in the past, but him lying about it, that I have a problem with. Preston Smith continues to impress me.

    • Provocateur says:

      Did he actually “lie” or had he forgotten? Yeah, I know, you youngsters can remember everything you do, whether its the time you finally graduated from potty-training to what you had for dinner last Thursday night.

  2. Was he a Whig before being a Republican? He had to be something since the GOP had only been around for only 12 years when he was elected Governor. He had moved to Georgia just prior to the Civil War and had held a rank in the Confederate army, despite being from NY. I’m willing to bet he was a Democrat before switching parties.

    • Ron Daniels says:

      I don’t recall ever reading anything that indicated he was a Democrat. If you can find something, then by all means produce it – you know I have a legitimate interest in Georgia history through our past conversations. That notwithstanding, I’m fairly sure the Republican Governor this article is referencing is Sonny Perdue.

      • drjay says:

        i’m no olens supporter but of course he meant perdue, o.k. so he forgot the phrase “since reconstruction” but that is really nitpicking to pull bullock and conley out of your hat…

        • Ron Daniels says:

          Perhaps you’ve missed every other post where I’ve dredged up Georgia History. No one gets a free pass on it.

          Issues? Take them up with Icarus.

      • Ron,
        I was amazed to see Olens admit that what Preston charged was actually FACT–AFTER the debate on GPB (archived if you didn’t see the exchange where Olens dished Smith’s allegation of his ties to Democrats, saying, “He’s making it up!”)

        Then the Feb. 25, 1992 article exposes that Olens was in fact a member on Clinton’s support team in Cobb County. He’s listed as lawyer, member. No problem him switching problems, only with lying about it. Huge.

        Then on FB, Olen the day after the debate says the following to this FB friend (his and my friend) who asked him on his post about being on WXIA talking about water. (Monday the day after he denied it on TV)
        THIS IS WHAT I SAW AND CUT AND PASTED JUST FOR THOSE WHO WANT PROOF. This post is not on his thread anymore….but Wendy remembers, I’m sure.

        Wendy Whitwood Bloedt on FB wrote to SAM OLENS: “I want you to discuss your former position as treasurer for the Cobb Dem. Party. I want to vote for you but I need to hear an explanation first.”– SAM OLENS responded: “Following financial issues, Tom Thrash (now a federal Judge supported by Bob Barr) asked me to serve …as Treasurer for 2 years. I then became active with the Cobb Republican Party. Thank you.”
        Monday at 5:40pm · Comment ·LikeUnlike

        That’s not much of an ‘explanation’ for a voter about
        1) not openly disclosing his full background
        2) does not explain what ‘financial issues’ were and whose
        3) does not explain why it would be in his constitution to do a ‘favor’ for a friend when values and principles go with that favor and how he could be trusted by those members with not only their money but with a position of authority in the party.
        4) most importantly, why he LIED.

        How can GA Attorney General be given a pass to lie, do favors, and get away with it at the polls?

        No bone to pick with Olens. I just want the most honorable man to defend our state and Constitution against outrageous power grabs by the government. It starts with a candidate’s integrity.

        That’s why, Ron. Glad you asked the hard question of proof.

    • William Satterwhite says:

      Bullock was only 20 years old when the Republican Party started and didn’t become active in politics until after the Civil War (prior to which it simply wouldn’t have been a legitimate option to be a Republican in Georgia) so it’s possible he was always a Republican.

        • Ron Daniels says:

          I was getting my information from the book they cite by Cook.

          I’m waiting to be convinced that Bullock was at some point a Democrat, you after all were willing to “bet on it.” 🙂

          I highly doubt Sam was thinking about Bullock – but when have I ever let up on anyone because they ran amok with Georgia’s History? If you take what he said and show it to ten people, and they accept it as fact part of our history gets covered up. It’s the same song and dance as yesterday – Handel’s spokesperson called Oxendine the most corrupt politician in Georgia’s history. And people accept that as fact without any regard to people like Sam Caldwell or Governor Griffin. We mandate a Georgia History class in our schools and kids get flooded with James Oglethorpe, and in two years can’t remember who he is and never hear about the “Three Governors Controversy” or a bevy of other events that thrust this state into the national political limelight. And quite frankly I think it is an injustice.

          Show me I’m wrong and I’ll recant my statement, until then I maintain our FIRST Republican Governor never was a Democrat. But as I said before – such things do not matter. This use to be a Democrat-Only state. Without getting into the County Unit System and Bo Calloway and a host of other issues, let me just say that I have no problem accepting someone who was once a Democrat as a Republican.

          God forbid me trying to ensure future generations know about the history of this wonderful state.

        • William Satterwhite says:

          Not that it matters (since, as you point out Olens was probably referring to Perdue and not Bullock) but I’m a Civil War buff so I can’t resist- Bullock’s rank likely had more to do with his pre-war business dealings and expertise as well as his status as a college-educated gentleman than any possible political activities he may have engaged in. Bullock’s service was directly related to the field (telegraph communications) he worked in so his rank was likely a result of an appreciation for his specific set of skills.

          While the Civil War era was known for having a large number of politically motivated military appointments (while not often mentioned, Ulysses S. Grant himself received his first major commands due to political pressure from his local Congressman), there were various other legitimate reasons officers received their positions. Some just happened to be the right men in the right places at the right time to fill certain needs. I suppose there might be some information on his service in the Official Records that could shed some light if one wanted to dig far enough.

  3. GaConservative23 says:

    Ron, what do you mean you either were or you weren’t? He just said that he has voted Democrat in the past, but he eventually “matured” and realized the Republican Party was the best choice. That’s a good, clear answer to me.

    • Ron Daniels says:

      In reference to being the Treasurer of the Cobb County Democrats and a Clinton supporter. His answer makes it seem as if he occasionally voted Democrat, sometimes Independent. Theres a difference between voting Democrat and being an elected party member. Either way there is nothing wrong with that sort of position, I just want clarity.

      There are parts of Georgia where if you want to be elected you are a Democrat today. Those places are shrinking, but it’s true.

  4. Ramblinwreck says:

    If he’d lie in public, on television, before he’s elected what makes anyone think he would be more faithful to the truth after he’s elected? Is this the chief law enforcement officer we want for Georgia?

  5. Doug Grammer says:

    I went back and watched the video. Sen. Smith said that Com. Olens was on President Clinton’s steering committee for Cobb County.

    Com. Olens replied that he made it up. I don’t think the he was disputing his involvement with the Dems, just about his support for President Clinton.

    It is possible that the paper got it wrong. I have seen other papers be wrong on minor facts. It’s not a stretch to think that that if he was a Dem officer, he supported the national candidate. I can understand how the paper might have made a mistake.

    If there are any Dems who were active in Cobb County in 1992 that have proof that Com. Olens was active in support for President Clinton, I would think that they would speak up to put a nail in a coffin of someone who left them.

      • Doug Grammer says:


        Have you ever seen a paper get facts wrong? I’m not endorsing anyone in any race just yet, but I’m look at ALL the angles. It shouldn’t be too hard to find a Dem in Cobb County to confirm or deny Com. Olens support of President Clinton. Just looking for the truth.

    • GeorgiaDawg says:


      Are you really suggesting that the MDJ got it wrong when they modified Sam Olens as the Treasurer of the Cobb Democratic Party?

      • Doug Grammer says:

        Nope. I am implying that they knew that he was a Dem officer in Cobb and just assumed he was part of the candidate Clinton Steering Committee for Cobb. Com. Olens may have even voted for President Clinton in 1992. That doesn’t mean Com. Olens hosted fundraisers, organized debate watching parties, put up yard signs, wrote him a check, or even told the folks at his synagogue that they should vote for President Clinton.

        I’ve had officers in The Walker GOP who vanished after being elected at convention. I don’t know how involved he was. If he did all of those things I stated he could have done, I don’t think it shouldn’t be too hard for someone to verify it.

  6. Doug Deal says:

    Sham Olens.

    Give me a break Sam, you were the Treasurer of a major party organization in the state back in a time when the Dems ruled Georgia. How competitive was it to win such a position back then, Someone dabling in politics could never hold such a position.

    I welcome people coming into the Republican party who switch for valid reasons, like the parties changing views, or personal growth or whatever. When someone asks you, say in a debate, you give that rationale. But, I do not and never will support someone who has himself and also through his many minions attacked people who have said Sam was once a Democrat as liars, and then deny flattly he was ever a Democrat or ever supported Clinton until cornered about it with proof. (Sounds alot like Monica’s Blue Dress that had sunk his hero’s denials a decade ago).

    The story that seems to really fit this fact pattern is that Sam Olens wants Sam Olens to be governor and Sam realized the land switched beneath his feet and in order to get elected he changed who he is (that definition of is thing).

    Now he is a “conservative”. If he had to, he would be a communist or a libertarian, whatever it takes to help his career.

    This is the core reason we have so many problems with our political class and the reason we need to pass on Mr. Olens.

  7. Red Phillips says:

    There was a time when Georgia was essentially a one party state, as was all the South, and ideological battles were waged within the Democrat primary. I don’t begrudge people being Democrats at that time. But it seems to me that in ’92 when Clinton was running that one party situation was no longer the case and Olens was “old enough to know better” as they say.

    I agree that people can change, but supporting Clinton is hard to overlook.

    To bad we don’t have a Sharon Angle problem where the Republican was a formerly affiliated with the Constitution Party instead of Dems. Then I would know I had someone to vote for.

  8. Tiberius says:

    I am voting for Smith, but he shouldn’t have scolded Olens for being from New Jersey. My family is from Jersey and so are a lot of families in voter-rich North Fulton. And from New York and Pennsylvania by extension.

    Doesnt matter…only we obsessed watched the debate.

    • LoyaltyIsMyHonor says:

      That’s pretty much Smith’s personality. All he does is attack, insult, and press buttons. He had some good ideas as a legislator, but they get lost in his personality. He just rubs most people the wrong way.

      He’ll make an awful AG, unless you like grandstanding D-baggery.

    • Tiberius says:

      I know Smith personally and that doesn’t feel right. But as they said in the great movie “Millers Crossing,” “no one know anyone that well.”

  9. Kate Myers says:

    Olens’ response is not compelling. He says he was independent in 1992 and voted for Clinton, but that doesn’t seem to dispell his strong Democratic support when his name is in the MDJ as Treasurer of the Cobb Democratic Party.

    Sam Olens doesn’t seem to handle adversity well. Sam did not react well when he was confronted with his past as being a Democrat. Sam could have said in the time between 1992 and now, his views have grown more conservative but instead Sam pouted like a preschool kid sent to timeout and flusteredly denied the allegation.

    Why has no one posted the whole AG debates, (R) & (D)? It would be beneficial to view those.

  10. GeorgiaDawg says:

    Olens responding to his Democratic past was a bad move. He should have just let the dust settle from the debate and hope people forgot about the ordeal, but I guess his arrogance just would not let him do that. Now, people are talking again about Olens’ lying, his Democratic past, his support of Bill Clinton, and his being Treasurer of Cobb’s Democratic Party. Sam needs to learn when to leave well-enough alone.

  11. Doug Deal says:

    I’m at the Middle Georgia gov debate and watching the pre debate AG forum. Former Democrat Sam Olens failed to attend.

    I believe he knows that Middle Georgia would not accept his shaky answers. Preston and Max are here though.

  12. GOPwits says:

    Look Saxby Chambliss was a big Democrat back in the day and look at what kind of great conservative he’s turned out to be???

    HA! Insert lots of sarcasm…

  13. foray says:

    Sam Olens is the frontrunner- so they attack him

    He is the most qualified candidate for Attorney General in the race, he has the intelligence, demeanor and relationships to reform the AG’s office.

    If he can run the AG’s office like he did Cobb County we will all be better off

    • Lady Thinker says:

      I disagree. I think Max Wood has the best qualifications and the experience, so I voted for him last week. He took out one of the worst child molesters in the State of Georgia.

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