Another anonymous mailing in SD 50 runoff

Yesterday, a second anonymous mailpiece hit voters in Senate District 50, making questionable claims against candidate John Wilkinson. At this rate, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more to come.

My first rule for analyzing claims made against an opponent is to ask whether the source is credible, and the credibility of an anonymous source is zeroed out. The second rule is to look at the documentation they provide, and if it’s totally lacking, I assume the claims are baseless. This mailpiece violates both rules and should find its way quickly to the garbage can.

One of the claims in the anonymous mailer is that Wilkinson retired from a state job for which he earns a pension and also earns another state paycheck, but Wilkinson’s Personal Financial Disclosure shows no payments in excess of $10,000 from any state agency. Of course Wilkinson may have received a paycheck or retirement payment and failed to disclose them, but if that’s the case, there should be some documentation.

The claim that Wilkinson has a lot in common with President Obama because he voted in Democratic primaries in the past, most recently in 2004 is likewise suspect. In fact, the voting pattern is interesting because after 2004, Wilkinson skipped voting in Primary elections and skipped 2006 entirely. He picked up in 2007 voting in three nonpartisan special elections, and then in March 2008 found a new home in the GOP. That’s the pattern you would expect from an older, conservative Georgian who grew up under one-party rule, eventually decided the Democratic party no longer reflected his values, and made his way across the aisle. Maybe he still is a Democrat in his heart of hearts, but his path is one well-trod by Gov. Deal, former Gov. Perdue and numerous other former-Democrats in Georgia.

Paul Rea of NewsTalk 810 AM brings us more.

While the first made silly claims that Wilkinson had “never cut taxes” or balanced a budget, the second has verifiable facts presented in a way designed to mislead voters.

Going strictly by the numbers, Wilkinson did indeed vote in four democratic primaries but that in itself is insignificant in a state where Democrats ran every level of government for more than a century up until 2003.

Current and Former Governors Nathan Deal and Sonny Perdue both have Democrat party primaries on their voting records. Deal didn’t convert to the GOP until 1995. Perdue followed in 1998. Since then 15 sitting Democrat legislators in Georgia made the switch to the Republican Party. Last year alone 9 Democrats fled to the other side of the aisle including Hartwell’s Alan Powell.

The importance of primary voting records is further reduced by the fact that most local races in Stephens County, Franklin County and other area counties were historically single party affairs, settled during party primaries, meaning that voters have often had to cross party lines to have any say at all in their local government.

Perhaps the best example of how this political ad aims to mislead is the impossibly twisted logic of the quote about “voting for a Democrat in the congressional primary against Nathan Deal”.  You can’t vote for or against a republican candidate in the democrat primary which is, by definition, the primary just for democrat candidates.



  1. indga says:

    There’s a anti-Blackburn mailer out in the SD28 race, too, from the same 499 Bailey Road address in Young Harris. A check of the tax assessors website in Rabun County shows no record of 499 Bailey Road.

    Mike Crane has some interesting bed fellows in this race. David Stover, the head of the Coweta Tea Party “Patriots”, also runs a website design company, which The Newnan Times-Herald pointed out yesterday provided a $5,000 in-kind contribution to the Crane campaign. Stover is also the one who scheduled a candidate forum on a day he knew that Blackburn couldn’t attend.

    • Groseclose says:

      Then apparently the return address on both mailers is for a property that is owned by Lewis C. Bailey, Sr. of Union County. Mr. Bailey, through the entity Sharpshooters Worldwide, has taken money from Sen. Balfour, Sen. Seabaugh, and Sen. Jack Hill, to name a few. These are the same members who Joel has taken money from either directly, or through the Georgia Republican Senate Trust since 2006.

      • Groseclose says:

        Rick’s hypocrisy continues. Even assuming Wilkinson received two checks, how is that any different than Rick’s employment at Piedmont College (though private, it receives HOPE funds and/or tax dollars) and his time at the General Assembly. The only difference I see is Rick only shows up for his second job about half the time.

        Rick needs to start focusing on the log his eye instead of looking for specs in others. He should start by explaining that materialman’s lien he had filed against him. Those type liens generally mean you don’t pay your bills.

        • 22bons says:

          The difference would be that one is working two jobs and the other is not.

          I don’t have any knowledge of Wilkinson’s retirement or employment situation, but I do know that it is not uncommon for educators to “retire” and start drawing a pension and then go back to work doing the same job they did before they “retired”.

          Taxpayers thus pay them twice for doing one job. I don’t know of any private sector employer that allows this.

          • ChuckEaton says:

            What educators are retiring and then coming back into the classroom, doing the same job they did before, to collect a double paycheck?

              • benevolus says:

                From the same article:
                “The report shows that the average annual pension for the 12,000 working “retirees” was $38,000 while they were earning another $23,000 on the job.”

                “However, the arrangement doesn’t cost state taxpayers any more because someone would have been paid doing the same job if not the retiree, the auditors concluded.”

                • 22bons says:

                  Yes, it does say that and not everyone agrees — which is why the Senate is looking in to it. The practice certainly costs the Teacher’s retirement system, and it very likely costs taxpayers more as long tenured teachers earn more than their younger colleagues.

                  • benevolus says:

                    What a ridiculous witch hunt.
                    The Senate requests an audit. The audit says the situation doesn’t cost us any more, but somebody doesn’t believe it so they are going to investigate further anyway, even though the audit explained why it doesn’t cost any more.

                    It is so aggravating. People and companies are draining the middle class with huge scams and rip offs, and some people want to hammer the poor schmucks trying to make a decent living or smoking a joint after they get laid off. It’s just tragic.

        • DTK says:

          “[Austin] should start by explaining that materialman’s lien he had filed against him. Those type liens generally mean you don’t pay your bills.”

          This isn’t necessarily true and, more than likely, is not true. I’m a Wilkinson supporter, but I’m also an attorney. Without looking at the lien, my best guess would be that Austin hired a contractor to do work on some of his property. The contractor then used credit with a materials supplier to get the materials to work on Austin’s property. Then the contractor went belly-up like a lot of contractors have done in the past few years. The materials supplier couldn’t get the contractor to pay its bill, so it then placed a lien on Austin’s property under O.C.G.A. 44-14-361.

  2. CowetaVoter says:

    The anti-Blackburn mailer is hitting all over SD28. Unfortunately most of the information in it is true and easily verified. I don’t know why Blackburn didn’t just come out and tell voters that he was a Democrat and recently switched to the Republican party instead of spending so much money to hide that fact. As far as the Coweta Tea Party, Indga’s claims are NOT entirely true. The Tea Party came up with 3 different dates in which to hold that Candidates Forum. It was based on when the venue for the event was available. Blackburn should have made time in his schedule. Instead he told the Tea Party that NONE of the three dates would work for him. That isn’t the Tea Party’s fault, they could only have it when the venue was available, not just whenever Blackburn wanted. Blackburn stalling on the date left the Tea Party with only 1 week to promote it. I think that was generous on the Tea Party’s part.

  3. Doug Grammer says:

    If I were helping Wilkerson, I’d have a mail piece going tonight stating that I have more in Common with Ronald Reagan, Sonny Perdue and Nathan Deal than with our liberal in chief.

    As a concerned citizen in my county, there were contested primaries in the Democratic primary and not in the Republican primary for county level office. (If true.)


    I have seen the light. As with many voters in Northeast Georgia, I am a conservative first and then did not concern myself too much with what has happened nationally. President Obama’s policies are ruining our nation and I can no longer be associated with a party that has him as a leader.

  4. Skip says:

    When any charges or allegations are made and are devastating, the best and most curable action to take, when one has experienced personal degradation, is to lay every bit of verifiable truth on the table for all eyes to see and all ears to hear. If the accuser fails to provide the proof to back up their allegations, then the accuser is a lire; however, if the accused fails to provide verifiable documentation or another venue such as audio or video, and fails to prove the allegations are untrue, in short order, they will begin to fall from grace and will be most likely doomed to regain their personal reputation and credibility for the rest of their life. When December 6th arrives and the best man to do the job and who’s reputation is desirable and this is what you require in order to obtain your vote, time will tell. Stay tuned, wait for the one that will cough up the verifiable truth.

  5. Rick A. says:

    Ladies and Gentlemen:

    As you can imagine, my phone and my life has been consumed for the last 48 hours by a couple of mailers that I had nothing to do with.

    Let me be very clear to you all: I had nothing to do with the mailers. I had no knowledge of them and I do not know the person who sent them. I certainly didn’t pay for them. I have publicly stated that, and I state it here as well. I condemn anonymous correspondences. Those who know me know that if I had done this, my name would have been all over it. That’s just the kind of guy I am.

    I got chastised by a little old lady this afternoon at the store for the mailers. She was pretty mad. I tried to explain that I didn’t have anything to do with it. I’ve run an issues based campaign, just like every other campaign I’ve run…and I still lost a vote for something that I didn’t even know was coming or have anything to do with. Go figure.

    To the person trying to help me or hurt me: Please stop. This is why people have a bad taste for politics.

    All the Best,

  6. Todd Rehm says:

    Rep. Austin,

    Kudos for showing up here and taking time out of your campaign to address the issue. I haven’t heard any credible evidence that Rep. Austin has any connection to the mailings.

    Anonymous mailings like this do a disservice to the candidate they smear, and to the opposing candidate if they truly didn’t have anything to do with the anonymail. Ultimately it is a disservice to our political process and the voters.

  7. Paul Srch says:

    I’m not as familiar with the legal requirements for campaigning in Georgia as I am with those in Arizona (where I ran for office, so I had to know them pretty well). In AZ, there’s a requirement that for all campaign literature there must be a notice stating which candidate or organization paid for the materials: “Paid for by John Doe for Governor” or whatever the election committee is called. That requirement exists whether the piece was sent by the candidate’s committee, the committee of his opponent, or anyone who sends out materials for or against ANY candidate – or issue, for that matter. Of course, I can only see the one side, but no such notice was mentioned in the article, so I gather there wasn’t one there either.

    What I’m asking, though, is whether there a similar requirement in GA? If so, this postcard would seem to be in violation, since no candidate or political action committee’s name is on it.

    Even if this was done by a private individual on behalf of a candidate, wouldn’t this be considered an in-kind campaign contribution? Someone donated the funds to print and mail this – which isn’t cheap. Can anyone who wants to, mail out things like this in Georgia? Don’t in-kind contributions need to be reported to the board of elections (along with monetary contributions)?

    Again, all I’m familiar with is the way it works in the AZ – anything like this has to be sent out by either a candidate’s committee (either for or against) or by a Political Action Committee registered with the county or state board of elections.

    Can someone share how it works here in GA?

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