A three-member panel on Friday decided against suspending state Sen. Shawn Still after he was charged in Fulton County with signing an election certificate falsely declaring Donald Trump won the 2020 election.
Gov. Brian Kemp’s office said the decision by the review panel -- which included Attorney General Carr, House Majority Leader Chuck Efstration and Senate Majority Leader Steve Gooch -- ends the inquiry into whether Still can serve in the Georgia Senate. The three panelists, along with Still, are all Republicans.
Still is one of 19 defendants — including Trump — in the indictment brought by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis that alleges the former president led an illegal scheme to reverse Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia.
Still was one of 16 Republican electors who convened to cast their ballots for Trump in December 2020 — even as the state’s official Democratic electors met to cast their ballots for Biden. He later won a Gwinnett-based Senate seat in 2022.
The indictment charges Still and two other Republican electors — former state GOP chair David Shafer and Cathleen Latham — of impersonating public officers, forgery, false statements and attempting to file false documents in connection with the fake electors.
Each has said they did nothing wrong, and all three have asked for their cases to be moved to federal court.
“The evidence at trial will show that Sen. Still is innocent as the day is long,” Still attorney Tom Bever said last month. “We look forward to our day in court to clear his good name.”
Under Georgia law, the governor is required to suspend a state legislator facing criminal charges if a commission determined the indictment is linked to or adversely affects the administration of his office, and if the public is adversely affected.
Several left-leaning groups issued statements condemning the panel’s decision, and former Democratic state Sen. Jen Jordan, who challenged Carr last year, said it showed there was “no accountability” for Still’s alleged actions.
But some legal experts said the commission’s decision was consistent with how previous panels addressed criminal charges against other legislators.
“The key question is whether the charges arise from an abuse of office, which these did not because Senator Still was not in the Senate at the time of the alleged crime,” said Anthony Michael Kreis, a Georgia State University constitutional law professor.
Still’s indictment has added to a fraught environment in the state Senate, where normally congenial GOP colleagues have been engaged in a bitter back-and-forth over efforts to punish Willis for bringing the charges and take other steps to undermine her investigation.