Political Vine: The Insider's Source on Georgia Politics

Political Vine: The Insider's Source on Georgia Politics

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US Attorney to Investigate Constitutional Rights Violations by Handel, LaGrua?

by PV

February 4, 2010
Garland Favorito: (404) 664-4044

SAVANNAH, GAFormer Republican Chatham County Commissioner, Jeff Rayno, announced today that he is filing a letter of complaint with the U.S. Justice Dept. The complaint cites potential Constitutional violations committed by former Secretary of State (SOS) Karen Handel and her Inspector General (IG) Shawn Lagrua during the December 16, 2009 State Election Board (SEB) meeting. His complaint, which also cites SEB member Kent Webb, is the fourth one filed by four different citizens against Shawn LaGrua’s IG office in the last two months.

Rayno asserts in the complaint that his Sixth Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution were violated when he was referred to the Attorney General’s office for a felony investigation without probable cause or evidence that he had done anything wrong. He described that he was refused details of the accusations against him and therefore, denied due process and the standard presumption of innocence afforded to all Americans. The transcript of the meeting appears to corroborate his claims.

During the meeting, LaGrua stated that Rayno submitted forged petitions he collected on a drive to help get Chatham County Commission candidate, David Osbourne, on the ballot for the general election. Rayno determined that only one of 200 signatures was in question and asked to see it. LaGrua could not produce it, but she still recommended to the board that Rayno be referred to the office of the Attorney General for further investigation and prosecution. Board member, David Worley, sought to remove Rayno from being referred due to lack of evidence but Chairwoman Handel disagreed and instructed Mr. Webb to make a motion. Mr. Webb then motioned to refer Rayno to the Attorney General’s office and then Handel seconded the motion to pass it despite opposition from Mr. Worley.

In the letter Rayno contends that his case is not isolated but highlights another example of a systemic problem in the IG office. He cited the case of Laura Gallegos, one of three other complainants, as an example. Gallegos was charged with five matters asserted against her for an election certification error committed by the Lowndes County Board of Elections. Potential violations committed by her supervisor were ignored in the investigation. Although Mrs. Gallegos’ case was eventually dismissed, she spent thousands of dollars on attorney fees, suffered a foreclosure and was terminated from her job.

Rayno stated that he believes these dubious investigations are politically motivated. He explained that he was collecting signatures for a candidate who opposed Helen Stone, an associate of Karen Handel, who escorted Mrs. Handel when she visited Savannah prior to her campaign. Laura Gallegos has also stated that her supervisor, Deb Cox, was on a first name basis with Karen Handel and had gone to lunch with her when she visited the office.

All complaints and their supporting documentation are available on the Complaints tab of the www.voterga.org web site. VoterGA plans to submit a corroborating letter to the Justice Department describing why they also believe that there is a systemic problem in the office of the Secretary of State.

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Today's Deep Thought

Instead of having 'answers' on a math test, they should just call them 'impressions,' and if you got a different 'impression,' so what, can't we all be brothers?


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