Carter grandson says he put out mysterious flier in Brookhaven race

The Republican runoff in House District 80, the near-urban Brookhaven-based seat, has apparently been the subject of some political shenanigans.

But not by either Meagan Hanson or Alan Cole, the two GOP candidates competing for the July 26 runoff and the chance to face incumbent Democrat Rep. Taylor Bennett in November.

James Carter, the Democratic activist and opposition research impresario, has confirmed to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he — and only he — is responsible for an anonymous flier that hit the district’s mailboxes in June. The piece attacks not just Cole, but former Brookhaven Mayor J. Max Davis and Brookhaven Council Member Bates Mattison.

“It appears that Alan Cole has been the subject of a vicious anonymous attack by the Democratic Party,” the Cole campaign said Tuesday afternoon. “This kind of dirty trick is a reason not to trust Georgia Democrats in the fall campaign.”

Bennett said in a statement that he strongly disagrees “with the tactics (of the mailer) … regardless of their source or sources.”

“During the first weeks of my legislative career,” Bennett said in the statement, “I sponsored HB 1016, which would have prohibited sending campaign related mailers without taking responsibility for their content.”

First reported by The Dunwoody Crier, the story has spread quickly on social media. The gist: The mailer purports to be paid for by a group called "Super Friends for Meagan Hanson," but no such committee is registered with the state or has any kind of presence on the Internet.

Hanson traced the mailer to a particular print house and from there to a bulk mail firm. She personally confronted employees at both places and ultimately was told that a woman named “Sally Carter” paid cash to have it delivered and was given a telephone number for said contact.

More digging determined that Sally Carter is married to James Carter, a grandson of former President Jimmy Carter.

“I take full responsibility for the mailer,” James Carter said. “All of the allegations contained in it are 100 percent true.”

Among those allegations, according to the Crier: that Mattison once filed for bankruptcy and that Cole is a bad landlord.

The newspaper's report didn't mention the allegations against Davis, but others who have seen the mail piece says it accuses Davis of sexual harassment while mayor. That's most likely referring to "Lysol-gate," when Davis faced accusations that he sprayed a city employee's backside with air freshener. Davis has denied the accusations, but they apparently contributed to his loss to Bennett in a 2015 special election.

Carter is perhaps best known for having unearthed a 2012 video that showed then-Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney saying that his job “is not to worry about” the 47 percent of Americans so poor they don’t pay income taxes.

Carter on Tuesday indicated that the real target of the mailer was Davis, not Cole, the current candidate.

“A few years ago, J. Max Davis called my wife and yelled at her for asking his ex-wife about him, which she had done as a favor to me,” Carter said. “My wife is not a Democratic activist and her only connection to politics is through me. Davis’ extreme overreaction to the circumstances was memorable, as was the way he treated my wife. Since that incident, I have reveled in every opportunity to take a shot at J. Max. He deserves it.”

Hanson called the mailer “despicable.”

“I do not approve nor would I ever approve of such an attack,” she said in a statement. “I will continue to run an upstanding, ethical campaign — one I can be proud of.”