Georgia GOP secretary of state candidate seeks rival’s disqualification

A candidate for Georgia secretary of state wants his opponent removed from this month’s ballot because of old tax debts.

David Belle Isle's campaign asked Secretary of State Brian Kemp on Thursday to investigate his opponent, state Rep. Brad Raffensperger of Johns Creek. The two candidates are competing in the July 24 Republican runoff election for secretary of state.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News first reported this week that public records indicated more than $135,000 in liens were pending against Raffensperger and his businesses.

But Raffensperger said he has paid off more than $5,000 in legitimate tax liens against him this week, and he verified with government agencies he doesn’t owe any money for the rest of them.

The letter from Belle Isle’s campaign said Raffensperger signed a document swearing he wasn’t in default on taxes when he qualified to run for office.

“It appears extremely likely that Mr. Raffensperger lied on his affidavit saying he was not a defaulter of taxes,” according to the letter. “It is especially ironic that Mr. Raffensperger seeks the very office that has the power to review candidate qualifications.”

Raffensperger, an engineer who owns several businesses, said he has repaid about $5,000 in liens in Muscogee County from 2005, along with $449 in Gwinnett County liens dating to 2002 and 2003.

“We pay over $1 million in taxes a year, and if there’s some of that we missed 10 or 20 years ago, then we were happy to take care of it, and we have,” Raffensperger told Channel 2 on Thursday.

Belle Isle’s letter asks the Secretary of State’s Office to determine whether Raffensperger is in default on taxes and to remove him from the ballot. Belle Isle, a former mayor of Alpharetta, didn’t return a phone message Thursday seeking comment.

The Secretary of State’s Office will have to decide whether to open an investigation.