The Jolt: Raffensperger on Fulton Co. elections, ‘Enough is enough’

News and information from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Secretary Of State Brad Raffensperger speaks during a press conference at the Georgia State Capitol on Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. (Christine Tannous /

Credit: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Secretary Of State Brad Raffensperger speaks during a press conference at the Georgia State Capitol on Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. (Christine Tannous /

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says “enough is enough” after Fulton County election workers allegedly shredded 300 voter registration applications just before early voting started for local elections, our colleague Mark Niesse tells us.

The county’s latest elections blunder could strengthen the case for the State Election Board to take over the county’s elections board after it ordered a performance review in August.

“Obviously the State Election Board already has Fulton County under review, and I know they’ll consider this as a very serious infraction, because it is,” Raffensperger said in an interview Tuesday. “Everyone in Georgia is sick and tired of Fulton County’s lack of management control. This has been going on since 1993, and enough is enough.”

Election investigators in Raffensperger’s office will look into how and why election workers shredded voter registration applications and report their findings to the State Election Board, which has the power to levy fines and refer cases to prosecutors.

Fulton County Commission Chairman Rob Pitts had this to say about the shredding incident: “Mr. Barron’s decision to inform the Secretary of State’s office, as well as my decision to inform the Fulton County District Attorney’s office, about these allegations regarding two now-terminated employees was proactive and transparent. Any attempt to portray it otherwise is more spin from desperate politicians seeking to malign Fulton County for political gain.”

Pitts added Wednesday morning, “We remain committed to being open, fair, and transparent.”

The secretary of state’s comments came as a court brief revealed Georgia election investigators in his office did not find counterfeit ballots among batches identified by Republican vote-counters in a challenge to Fulton County’s 2020 election count.


Grassroots Republicans seeking to vindicate Donald Trump were out for blood this year. Gov. Brian Kemp was reprimanded. So was Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan. And the state GOP voted to censure Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

You know all this. So why are we bringing it up again?

On Tuesday, Insurance Commissioner Jim Beck was sentenced to more than seven years in federal prison for a yearslong scheme to steal from a former employer and use the ill-gotten gains to help finance his campaign.

The Republican was charged with fraud just months after he took office, and treated like a pariah by fellow state elected leaders. But as far as we can tell, no major county GOP organizations voted to censure or rebuke him.

That’s the conclusion that Jason Shepherd, the former Cobb GOP chair, arrived at as well. Shepherd has turned into a critic of the organization he once led after it voted last month to “censure” Kemp for failing to curb illegal immigration.

“A group of GOP organizations has censured Kemp, Raffensperger, Duncan and others, but not someone actually convicted in a court of law,” he said. “Apparently committing multiple felonies is not as censure-worthy as (not meeting) campaign promises.”

On a similar note, one of your Insiders has a story out this morning on how pro-Trump activists have taken control of local party infrastructure, even if it meant ousting other Trump supporters from positions of power.


The pro-cityhood Buckhead City Committee released a new poll Tuesday showing significant support among registered voters in Buckhead not only to proceed with a referendum on the 2022 ballot, but also to break away from the City of Atlanta.

When asked, “Would you rather Buckhead remain in the City of Atlanta or create a new Buckhead City?” 64% said they’d rather start a new city, while just 28% said they’d prefer to stay in Atlanta.

Also in the poll: 73% called crime and public safety the most important issue facing them and their families; and 72% said they “support the right to vote on Buckhead City.”

Other questions in the survey were less straightforward. One asked if respondents would be more likely to support a Buckhead City if they knew it would have its own police force, “courts, judges, and jails to deal with crime in the new city.”

While a new city could have new courts for misdemeanor offenses, Fulton County DA Fani Willis has said all felony suspects for serious crimes will continue to be processed and prosecuted by her office, no matter where a crime happens in the county.

The latest poll was conducted by Rosetta Stone, with live phone interviews during late September with a margin of error of +/- 4%.


Senate candidate Herschel Walker is already building on his $3.7 million campaign warchest.

The Republican contender is headed to a fundraiser in Parker, Texas this weekend, according to an invite posted by Bettina Sofia Viviano-Langlais, a film producer who is hosting the event.

It will cost attendees $500 to attend the reception, and another $5,800 for VIP treatment and a photo with Walker.

And don’t expect masks to be worn at the event. The couple hosting the fundraiser also held a “Texas is Now Open” mask-burning bonfire party at their home in March. Several former Trump campaign staffers were billed as speakers for the night, with the symbolic bonfire at the end.

Bettina Sofia Viviano-Langlais has a history of controversial media posts, including what appears to be a rendering of a swastika as her Twitter profile picture, but is a symbol now used by activists in Texas opposing COVID vaccine mandates.

A spokeswoman’s for Walker’s campaign responded Wednesday morning, “This is clearly an anti-mandatory vaccination graphic. Herschel unequivocally opposes anti-semitism and bigotry of all kinds.”


Twitter had a moment yesterday with Newt Gingrich’s FEC report, which shows the former House Speaker and one-time presidential candidate still owes more than $4.6 million in unpaid bills to vendors related to his 2012 presidential campaign, including several in Georgia.

Our fellow Insider Jamie Dupree wrote about Gingrich’s outstanding debt all the way back in 2015.

At the time, Gingrich also owed $4.6 million, meaning his bills haven’t budged since then, even as his wife took the high-profile job as U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See under former President Donald Trump and he became a high-profile Trump booster on Fox News.

The two have now relocated to Florida and often post selfies while golfing together near Palm Beach and enjoying evenings out at various high-end restaurants.

One unamused Georgia Republican, who worked to pay off a previous campaign debt completely, texted your Insiders, “I just couldn’t go back to commentating if I owed people money.”


Democrats in the U.S. House voted Tuesday evening to approve the Senate bill increasing the debt limit. No Republican voted in favor of the bill, which will give the federal government a bit of breathing room on covering its growing debt, at least for several more weeks.

“Democrats have worked hard to avoid an unprecedented debt default, which would devastate the financial future of our country. Addressing the debt limit has traditionally been a bipartisan effort,” U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, an Albany Democrat and the longest-serving Georgia lawmaker, said in a news release after the vote.


With the start of early voting in Georgia’s municipal elections underway, the voting rights group formed by Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James is kicking off a new effort to encourage Black voters to cast their ballots.

The group, More Than A Vote, is launching what it calls the “National Voter Suppression Rescue Plan” to inform Georgians about new voting restrictions adopted by lawmakers earlier this year.

Beyond the high-profile race for Atlanta mayor, the campaign will also target Black voters in Albany, Brunswick, Fort Valley and Warner Robins that have local elections in November.

And Hawks star John Collins plans to film a video that encourages young voters to participate in this fall’s elections, as well as meet with volunteers from the New Georgia Project and Black Voters Matter before a pre-game tip off.


Three candidates running in the Republican primary in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District are in the initial phases of a program for GOP candidates considered among the most promising in competitive races.

Harold Earls, Jake Evans and Megan Hanson have all been identified as “on the radar” for the GOP’s Young Guns program, meaning they met minimum requirements for campaign organization and show potential for success. The three are all running in hopes of unseating Democratic incumbent Lucy McBath.

Rich McCormick is also on the list for the second campaign cycle in a row. He is challenging U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux in the state’s 7th Congressional District.


The White House has appointed two men for Georgia-based positions within the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Arthur Tripp is the new state executive director for the Farm Service Agency. Currently, he serves as U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux’s district director, and prior to that, worked as ag policy advisor to U.S. Rep. David Scott.

Reggie Taylor will serve as state director for rural development at the USDA. Taylor has previously served at posts within the USDA, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and as city manager in East Point.


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