Saturday, February 27, 2010
Hot Off the Presses Kids,
Georgia's number one single issue activist, Garland Favorito, clashed with the members of the State Election Board (SEB) at it's last meeting on 24 FEB 10 in arguments about the Jeff Rayno's case and the ongoing saga of Laura Gallegos. If you want a good look at the culture of CYA left in place by Ex-SecState Karen Handel, then read Mr. Favorito's report on the shenanigans that went on at the meeting below.
And if you want additional info on Shawn Lagrua, head over to Political Vine and take the time to read everything Bill Simon has said bout the illustrious Ex SOS IG. If you suffer from high blood pressure, make sure you take your meds before reading.
There's only one sure way to fix the mess at the Georgia Secretary of State's office and that is to elect Libertarian David Chastain as our next SecState.
Here's Mr. Favorito's report:
The State Election Board (SEB) meeting, held Wednesday, Feb 24, 2010, was lacking in organization and somewhat chaotic, particularly at the end. The public comments went smoothly. Jenny Hodges spoke eloquently in favor of HB1215 voting machine bill to restore the integrity of elections in Georgia. I received a deferral from Mike Opitz for an extra two minutes and reviewed excerpts of Jeff Rayno’s hearing from the last meeting since the majority of board members were not present. Jeff was referred for a felony investigation of petition forgery without any evidence that any signature he ever collected was forged. I explained that is aviolation of Mr. Rayno’s 6th Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution. Ricardo Davis explained how that is an example of why we must open the ballot and remove the petitioning requirements. A minister also spoke on behalf of some Greene County respondents who were eventually referred for an investigation even though there was only hearsay evidence and no material witness against them.
We then had to wait seven hours for the Gallegos case to be heard. The board eventually voted to take no further action against her but not without a lot of wrangling. We knew going in that the meeting had far too many cases on the agenda to be heard on one day and the agenda was set up suspiciously. The Gallegos case was placed last on the agenda and not in the normal numerical order. In addition, the new complaint she filed against Supervisor Deb Cox was placed ahead of the old complaint that had to be resolved against her. Furthermore, her new complaint was already moved to Ann Brumbaugh’s Attorney General report when instead, it should have been an item on the agenda for the S.O.S. Inspector General, Shawn LaGrua to report. The Inspector General is supposed to present findings to the board so that the board can vote on whether or not to refer each of the potential violations to the office of the Attorney General for an investigation. A few days before the meeting I asked Rhonda Brown, who helps set up the agenda, how that happened but I could not get a satisfactory answer.
When Mrs. Gallegos case was finally heard at almost 5:30pm, board member Tex McGiver had already left over an hour earlier. Ann Brumbaugh spoke for 15 minutes and explained that there are three cases, one against Laura Gallegos, one against supervisor Deb Cox and one against the Lowndes County board that certified the results. In regards to Laura Gallegos, she recommended that:
· The board reject Judge John Gatto’s administrative hearing order that dismissed all charges against Mrs. Gallegos;
· The board send the case back to the administrative office;
· The board attempt to enter into a consent agreement with Mrs. Gallegos where she would essentially admit that she was guilty of the original charges that were dismissed against her;
Ann Brumbaugh then attempted to get the board to accept a consent order for Lowndes County and refer the Deb Cox case to her without an investigative report. I called for a Point of Order after the Lowndes County affirmative vote and suggested to the board that they should hear all of the evidence of the old case first since that is normal procedure and it could influence their decision on the new case. They agreed and finally after more than 7 hours Laura Gallegos was able to testify. She read very clearly and smoothly from a prepared statement outlining the details of the case that the board had not heard, however, Sec. Kemp said that her time was up after 5minutes! She did not protest because she had a feeling that things were going to go her way. They then called me and as soon as I began to testify, Ann Brumbaugh objected to my testimony just as she had attempted to do unsuccessfully at the hearing. They asked for my qualifications and I began explaining my computer background, knowledge of the voting machines and the fact that I traveled to Valdosta as an expert witness in the case. Mrs. Brumbaugh pointed out that I was not qualified as an expert witness there. I countered that was because her case was so flawed it was dismissed before they ever needed to qualify me. Nevertheless, Mr. Evans and Sec. Kemp said that in that case I had to be a first hand fact witness, so after waiting all day and investing 100 personal hours in the case I was not allowed to say anything!
Eventually Randy Evans made a motion to reject Judge Gatto’s order and allow the option to have an evidentiary hearing at the SEB if no consent agreement could be reached. Ann Brumbaugh opposed it. While it makes no sense to reject the order since no one in their right mind would consent that they are guilty of charges that have already been dismissed, his motion would have allowed all evidence to come out in front of the board and the malicious nature of the investigation and prosecution would likely have been finally revealed to the members. His motion failed 2-2 with David Worley favoring it while Sec. Kemp and Kent Webb opposed. Sec. Kemp, who is facing re-election this year while details of this case circulate in Republican circles, then rightfully explained that he thought Mrs. Gallegos had been through enough and wanted to disjoin her from any further action. Mr. Worley concurred and made a motion to remand the decision back to the administrative office but take no further action on the case. His motion passed 3-1 with new board member Kent Webb still opposing it. Mr. Webb is the same member who motioned at the Dec. 16 meeting that Jeff Rayno be investigated for a felony without a single shred of evidence being presented against him.
The irony of this whole drama is that the administrative hearing order will stand as is, no consent order applies and no further action will be taken since the defendant has been disjoined. I think that was the point Mr. Evans was trying to make to Ann Brumbaugh earlier but she is consumed with trying to pretend that she didn’t lose the case even to the point where she cannot look at the facts objectively or even understand the details of the evidence..
Unfortunately, this saga will continue. In the brief moment when we finally relaxed knowing that the Gallegos family will not be victimized anymore, I failed to call a Point of Order on the referral of the case against Deb Cox to the board. Mrs. Gallegos charges against Cox were not investigated and reported to the board by Inspector General LaGrua as is standard procedure. Instead she simply mentioned only one obvious charge that could not be denied and left off all the other potential violations. It is clear to many of us that Mrs. LaGrua and Ms. Brumabuagh are continuing to work together to suppress the facts about this case so that they will never be known. The board will eventually have to decide if they are going to allow this corruption to continue or take action to rectify it. We will likely try to pursue this at the next board meeting in the name of equal justice for both citizens and public officials, a concept that is almost totally foreign to the office of the Attorney General of Georgia.
Posted by Shane Bruce at 6:51 AM