The event aims to unite several of the state’s MAGA loyalists, including Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, who won statewide office with Trump’s endorsement, and state Sen. Colton Moore, whose doomed push to impeach Willis has drawn the fury of fellow Republicans and triggered threats against his Senate colleagues.
Also on the agenda is 1st District GOP Chair Kandiss Taylor, who has called for a purge of all Republican elected officials and refused to concede her overwhelming primary defeat last year to Gov. Brian Kemp; and David Cross, a party vice chair who has promoted election fraud conspiracy theories.
So is Suzi Voyles, the Georgia GOP assistant secretary, who is a former U.S. House candidate whose unsuccessful campaign focused on her efforts to reverse Trump’s defeat.
The most prominent of the group is Jones, who served as a pro-Trump elector but wasn’t charged with a crime after a judge barred Willis from pursuing the case because she helped headline a fundraiser for his political rival.
A recently released report revealed that Fulton County special grand jurors probing the case recommended seeking charges against Jones, who has said he is the victim of a “politically motivated” investigation. A separate state agency could soon handle the inquiry.
A likely candidate for governor in 2026, Jones has headlined a string of GOP events this year. He confirmed he would attend the Banks County fundraiser weeks ago and wasn’t told at the time who the other speakers on the agenda would be, a GOP official said. Jones’ top aide indicated he would still attend.
“Nearly every one of the 159 counties in Georgia have county parties that regularly meet. Burt was asked to attend one of those meetings and committed,” Loree Anne Paradise said. “He committed to speak to Republican activists like he’s done hundreds of times before. Nothing more, nothing less.”
Meanwhile, state GOP officials are peppering supporters with pleas to dig deeper into their wallets. The party promised to cover the costs for the GOP electors in February, when Shafer said he wasn’t seeking a third term and used a farewell dispatch to praise the party’s executive committee for agreeing to cover the legal fees.
“I have raised the money to honor that commitment,” he wrote then, “so that none of them have had to pay a penny out of pocket.”
Campaign filings show the state GOP spent more than $522,000 in the first half of 2023 on four firms representing 10 of the 16 electors. Although all 16 were told they were “targets,” at least eight struck a deal with prosecutors for immunity.
The escalating costs of the litigation have forced the defendants to seek new ways to raise cash. Latham and Shafer have both turned to the Christian-based crowdfunding site GiveSendGo to help raise cash. And Josh McKoon, the new party chair, is aggressively courting donors to write big checks.
“We will fight against those who want to destroy the legal system that has been the envy of western democratic governments in service of their personal political agenda,” McKoon’s recent fundraising appeal stated.
Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC
Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC