More independent expenditure mail in SD 50 – this time in favor of John Wilkinson

And now, ladies and gentlemen, we’re just one Beth Merkelson short of a complete, lawless cluster in Senate District 50 as the sock puppets have come out to play on both sides of the runoff election. Behold, another set of anonymous independent expenditure mailings, though these have a much higher production value than the ones that came out trashing Wilkinson. Got any ideas who might be behind them? Follow me after the jump for some baseless speculation.

The Secretary of State’s corporations databasedoes not show any sign of such an organization.

You’ll remember that Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle endorsed John Wilkinson in SD 50 and Duke Blackburn in SD 28. And anonymous mailpieces attacking both of those candidates have surfaced this week.

[UPDATED] My initial mistake was in looking only for committee reports mentioning Georgians for Conservative Leadership. No such reports exist. But I eventually found the registration record.

12 comments

  1. Andre says:

    These anonymous political mailings demonstrates once more why former state Senator John Wiles’ amendment to House Bill 1112, eliminating the disclosure requirements on political literature, was a bad idea.

    The person or persons producing these pieces are not accountable for the content of the advertisements. The person or persons producing these pieces can tell a bold-faced lie, and never be called out on it simply because it is legal to anonymously attack a candidate for public office.

    A simple solution to this is to re-insert the language that existed in O.C.G.A. 21-2-415 prior to the House and Senate voting almost unanimously to allow anonymous political mailings [SOURCE: House Vote #1051; Senate Vote #946].

    The question now is which intrepid legislator has the will to introduce such a measure, and see it through the legislative process.

    • brasstownhigh says:

      I’m confused – these pieces have a disclaimer in the top left of each piece. What part of “Paid for by Georgians for Conservative Leadership” makes them anonymous? They say exactly who sent them.

      • Andre says:

        Prior to the enactment of House Bill 1112, O.C.G.A. 21-2-415 read as follows:

        “(a) No person shall distribute, circulate, disseminate, or publish or cause to be distributed, circulated, disseminated, or published any literature in connection with any political campaign for any public office or question unless such literature shall bear the name and address of the person or organization distributing, circulating, disseminating, publishing, or causing the same to be distributed, circulated, disseminated, or published. To be in compliance with this subsection when an organization rather than a natural person commits any of the acts enumerated in this subsection, the names and addresses of at least three of the highest officials thereof shall also appear thereon. No candidate whose campaign is the subject of any campaign literature shall contribute funds to defray the cost or a portion of the cost of the printing, publishing, distribution, circulation, or dissemination of such literature unless the literature clearly states that the cost or a portion thereof has been paid for by the candidate. Campaign literature published and disseminated by the candidate, bearing his or her name and the office for which he or she is a candidate, shall be considered as in compliance with this subsection.”

        The first sentence of the preceding paragraph means that if I decided to spend money supporting or opposing a candidate for office, I’d be required to include a disclaimer that read, “Paid for by Andre Walker, 123 Fake Street, Atlanta, GA 30334.”

        The second sentence means that if I put together an organization and called it “Citizens for Powerade”, the organization would be required to include a disclaimer that read, “Paid for by Citizens for Powerade, Joe Smith, Chairman, Quik Trip, Vice-Chairman, Coca-Cola, Treasurer”, along with the addresses of Citizens for Powerade’s top three officers listed above.

        As I said earlier, without O.C.G.A. 21-2-415 in place, any person could flood the state with mail pieces, flyers, brochures, and never be held accountable because that person is not required to disclose who they are or where they are headquartered.

        There’s something not right about that.

  2. Paul Srch says:

    Ordinarily I’d never cross-post, but when I posted the following in an earlier thread about this, I didn’t realize that thread was a couple days old, and probably wouldn’t get noticed. Andre’s comment hints at the answer, but I’d still like some clarification. Here’s what I asked the other day:

    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. It also applies to signs and ANY other campaign material. 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?

  3. tylandred says:

    I have a simple questions, then a comment.

    First, why when you unsubscribe from the John Wilkinson Campaign’s mass email does it ask if you want to unsubscribe from Jim Butterworth’s email list? Is that type of assistance, to a campaign, legal for the new Adjutant General? Any Hatch Act experts…please respond.

    https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B_SibOC6_ATAZTg1ZDhiNTctMDNmNi00YmMxLWE5MzMtYzIyZjVmODllM2Qy

    It appears the Anti-Beth Merkleson faction from Hart County is managing the Wilkinson Campaign. This connection may interest all you politico’s… or not… I think the quote was, “I just fool with the Internet and I like politics.”

    http://blogs.ajc.com/political-insider-jim-galloway/2011/04/11/about-beth-merkleson-does-casey-cagle%E2%80%99s-most-out-spoken-foe-wear-pants-and-carry-a-senator%E2%80%99s-blackberry/

  4. debbie0040 says:

    If I lived in those districts, I would vote for Austin and Crane.. I am encouraging people I know to support Austin and Crane

  5. NoTeabagging says:

    Direct mailers, TV attack ads and non-attack ads, robocalls have a high probability of outright lies, so I ignore them all. I wish more people wold call these candidates and let them know we didn’t fall off the turnip truck yesterday. Perhaps the would listen to us ticked off voters and stop listening to the consultants that insist nasty attack ads and robocalls work.

    Counties are missing out on a potential revenue maker by allowing voters to keep there voter info private and non-distributable to campaign marketers. Some states are doing it, The going rate is $5 per voter.

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