Playing Favorites at the DeKalb GOP

I usually keep a pretty sharp eye on Twitter’s #gapol feed. Over the weekend, I noticed quite a number of tweets from the DeKalb GOP promoting the candidacy of Nancy Jester for the District 1 County Commission seat to replace Elaine Boyer. Curious, I examined the party’s feed as far back as it would let me, and I couldn’t find a single tweet promoting one of the other Republican candidates running for the seat, like Wendy Butler, Larry Danese, or Tom Owens. But, I counted more than 15 promoting Jester.

I went to the DeKalb GOP website and followed a link on the home page to a list of local candidates. Again, there seemed to be some missing names. Even if you leave off the candidates with uncontested races, taking a look at the official DeKalb County sample ballot, many names are missing, including Fran Millar for Senate District 41, Freddy Holley for House District 83, Tom Price in the Sixth Congressional District, and the three candidates not named Jester in the County Commission race.

Searching tweets back through mid-September, I counted over fifty tweets promoting the candidacy of Jim Duffie for State Rep, but none for Holley and only one mention of Millar, and that was promoting his attendance at the county party’s upcoming victory dinner. In fact, I could find several examples of the party and Duffie making the same identical tweet at the same time:

Identical Tweets

Perhaps this shouldn’t be a surprise, since the DeKalb County GOP Chairwoman, Linda Smith, is being paid to consult for the Duffie campaign, according to State Ethics Commission filings.

Article VI, Section 2 of the DeKalb County GOP Rules states,

The Executive Committee shall not as a body publicly endorse any opposed candidate in any Republican Presidential Primary, General Primary, or Special Primary Election. This Section shall not in any way infringe upon the rights of the members of the Executive Committee as individuals to publicly endorse any candidate of their own choosing.

Obviously, there is room for interpretation here. The commission election isn’t a primary, for one thing. And, in a sense, there has been no official endorsement of Jester or Duffie by the DGOP executive committee, although using several of the party’s communications outlets (web page and Twitter) to support some candidates and not others gets close to crossing that ethical line.

And, it’s improper for a county party chairperson to accept payment to promote a candidate because it gives the impression that candidates must pay to play if they want to have party support. That’s true even if the chairperson claims to be working “in her individual capacity” and not as the chair.

One of the biggest problems in politics right now is a lack of trust. Voters don’t trust elected officials to do the right thing. Groups within the GOP don’t trust “The Establishment” to do what the grassroots wants done.

The actions of those in authority at the DeKalb GOP don’t help.