The 2021 4th Annual GRA President’s Dinner was a beautiful success! Attendees from all over the state were treated to a delicious three-course meal artfully presented in honor of the memory of the sacrifice of 9/11 and then heard from constitutionalist hero Congressman Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky). Congressman Massie is raising the bar for conservatism within the Republican Party, and it was an honor to have him speak as our keynote. We hope more of our elected officials from Georgia will learn to follow in his example of principle and courage.
In particular, we appreciate him being the only Republican in the U.S. House willing to go on record opposing every single multi-trillion dollar wasteful expenditure bill in response to the pandemic over the last 18 months, including the original “CARES Act” that started us on a path toward rising inflation!
Below are some select photos captured at the event. We appreciate everyone who helped to organize, plan, and host the event! In particular, we appreciate the careful planning of our NFRA Director Debra Williams, who has organized the GRA President’s Dinner for the last several years.
While there have been a lot of political setbacks for Republicans around the country, it’s been a successful and exciting year so far for the GRA. As you know, this year was a convention cycle for electing party leadership from the precinct level all the way through the State GOP. And as we had asked for, the GRA delivered.
GRA members offered themselves for party office throughout Georgia. Our endorsed candidates for GOP Chairman (David Shafer) and Second Vice Chairman (Brant Frost V) won overwhelmingly at the GAGOP State Convention. Other GRA members ran strong statewide campaigns, showing the depth and strength of the GRA.
The GRA assisted in training people newly involved in politics how to be involved on the local level, leading to many successes throughout the state. GRA members were elected as county and district GOP chairmen throughout the state, including but not limited to Ron Hooper in Banks County, Salleigh Grubbs in Cobb County, Marci McCarthy in DeKalb County, and Joanna Hildreth in Catoosa County. Denise Burns was elected as 14th District Chairman, GRA Treasurer Nathan Porter was elected as Sixth District Chairman, and many others were elected to the GOP State Committee.
Even with these victories, we have much room for growth and improvement in the GRA. We need to stay razor focused on getting our endorsed candidates elected into party and public office. And this requires help from all of our members in volunteering to help educate, engage, and recruit more members as well as spreading the word about the GRA by talking throughout your communities and wearing your GRA name badges. If you wish to volunteer to help with any of our initiatives, please reply and let us know.
I look forward to continuing to work with you in standing for principled Republicanism and restoring the Republican brand.
Jekyll Island, GA—Congratulations to all of the GRA members participating in the GAGOP elections today, as candidates and delegates! We are excited to report that two of our leading endorsed candidates for state-wide party office have once again won election: David Shafer and Brant Frost V were both overwhelmingly re-elected for GA GOP Chairman and 2nd Vice Chairman, respectively. Each of them received a more than super-majority of the standing vote at the state convention in Jekyll Island.
Last Monday, the GRA membership met online via Zoom for an live electronic endorsement convention with members from across the state. Participants were able to pose questions to each of the candidates online. Using the online system Runkeeper, GRA members were able to cast ballots in favor of endorsing each of the contested GA GOP officer candidates, the Over 80,000 Chair candidates, and the Under 80,000 Chair candidates. The system enables users to pre-cast their initial ballot as well as any secondary or tertiary ballots in the case of a runoff between multiple candidates. As usual under the rules of the GRA, a candidate can only be endorsed if he or she receives at least a two-thirds majority vote of the participating GRA membership.
Brant Frost V (who also serves as the 1st Vice President of the GRA) was the only candidate endorsed on the first ballot. Pamela Rearden earned the endorsement for 1st Vice Chair of the GA GOP in her race on the third ballot; Shafer received the endorsement for GA GOP Chairman on the third ballot as well.
In a three-way contest this Saturday, endorsee Pamela Reardon ran a strong campaign for 1st Vice Chair and received the second-highest number of votes, but ultimately lost to Establishment-candidate B.J. Van Gundy. GRA member Surrea Ivy received a standing ovation at the state convention during her exceptional speech in the GA GOP Chairman’s race, ultimately coming in second. Jason Shepherd was another GRA member who has in many ways made some strides for improvement in Cobb County as the former county Chairman, but he came in third place in the race for GA GOP Chairman.
David Shafer and Brant Frost V were also endorsed by the GRA two years ago when they each first won election for state party office. Over the last two years Brant Frost’s hard work substantially increased his margin of victory from his more narrow win in 2019.
David Shafer ran in 2019 under a pledge to raise funds and cut spending to get the GA GOP out of debt—something GRA leaders on the state committee had been pushing for over six years! Shafer made good on his promise, having the debt paid off by March of 2020. Shafer also promised to do something else the GRA has been pushing for years: allow the GA GOP to establish its first ever state party platform. Not only did Shafer accomplish that, but he appointed prominent GRA members such as former State Senator Mike Crane, Kay Godwin, and GRA 3rd Vice President Nathaniel Darnell to the committee to draft the platform, and he appointed Brant Frost V to Chair that Resolutions Committee. He also appointed GRA President Alex Johnson to the GA GOP’s standing Rules Committee. In addition to this, Shafer helped to setup party organizations in all of Georgia’s 159 counties for the first time ever. This track record of working with the GRA to promote its objectives, rather than against the GRA as the two previous GA GOP Chairs have done, had a lot to do with why he earned their endorsement once again.
We appreciate all the GRA members who offered themselves as candidates at the state convention and were willing to serve. We look forward to continuing to elect the best candidates to positions of influence in the GA GOP who will prove themselves eager to work to help us promote Republican principles in Georgia.
Jekyll Island, GA — The newly elected body of GA GOP State Committee members from each of the 14 Georgia Congressional Districts met this afternoon, the day before the State Convention, for the first time. The highly anticipated item on their agenda was the appeal to resolve the dispute of the Fulton County GOP on their election of their county chair at their county convention. Both Susan Opraseuth and the incumbent Trey Kelly had representatives on the State Committee arguing on their behalf.
The State Committee took up the question of whether to affirm the Fulton County GOP’s election of Susan Opraseuth as the new county chair. That vote by the State Committee was very close, and GRA members were very active in the discussion. As GA GOP Chairman David Shafer stated at the meeting, how each State Committee member voted should not have been based on a preference for one candidate over the other, but rather on the merits of whether one was procedurally elected properly under the rules.
GRA President & attorney Alex Johnson from DeKalb was among the State Committee members who presented arguments on behalf of Susan Opraseuth’s rightful election, along with GRA Treasurer Nate Porter from Fulton (recently elected as the 6th District GOP Chair), and Caroline Jeffords from Fulton.
Lobbyist attorney Brad Carver (the 11th District GOP Chair) from Fulton was predictably one of the leading advocates on behalf of Trey Kelly.
The advocates against the affirmation of Susan claimed that such an affirmation would mean the State Committee would be “picking the Fulton Chairman” when in fact what it really would have done was affirm the choice that the Fulton GOP County delegation already made. (See more details below.)
Lisa Adkins from Cobb County made a motion to vote on the question by secret ballot. The body of the State Committee rejected her motion. Had it not been for the meeting going so long that it began to run into the beginning of the GA GOP’s hors d’oeuvres reception hosted for the State Committee, a roll-call vote on the controversy might have had support. Instead, GA GOP Chairman David Shafer called for the body of the State Committee to vote by standing.
On the question of whether to affirm the Fulton County GOP’s election of Susan Opraseuth as Chair, the final vote was 72 in favor to 76 against.
Virtually all GRA members on the State Committee voted in favor of affirming Susan Opraseuth’s election. Among those who voted in favor of her affirmation were:
• GRA President Alex Johnson of DeKalb County • GRA NFRA Director Nathaniel Darnell of Cobb County • GRA 1st Vice President Brant Frost V of Coweta County • GRA Treasurer Nate Porter from Fulton County • GRA Secretary Joanna Hildreth (newly elected Catoosa County Chair) • Denise Burns (recently elected 14th District GOP Chair) • Katie Frost, West GA GRA Chair from Coweta County • Salleigh Grubbs (recently elected Cobb GOP Chair) • Banks Wise from Cherokee County • Pamela Rearden from Cobb County • Jason Shepherd (former Cobb GOP Chair) • Kathleen Thorman (Gordon County GOP Chair) • Caroline Jeffords from Fulton County
Former GRA NFRA Director Ron Hooper (recently elected Banks County Chair) abstained from voting on this issue.
Photos, videos, and notes were taken by eye-witnesses at the State Committee meeting who recorded those who stood up to vote against affirming Susan Opraseuth’s election. Among those who voted against her affirmation were:
• Brad Carver (11th District GOP Chair) from Fulton County • Michael Williams from Cobb County • John Longshore from Cherokee County • Louis DeBroux (Bartow County Chair) • Brian Laurens from Cherokee County • Andrew Abbott from Henry County • Joseph Brannan (GA GOP Treasurer) from Muscogee County
State Committee members who deviate from the wishes of the delegates who elected them should be identified so that they can be held accountable (although some in the meeting protested having a photo of their vote being taken). In the 11th District GOP Convention, for example, had the delegates elected Boyd Parks rather than Michael Williams to the State Committee from Cobb, and elected Ellen Diehl rather than John Longshore from Cherokee, the outcome of Susan’s election affirmation would likely have been different.
It is worth mentioning that Michael Williams, John Longshore, Louis DeBroux, and Brian Laurens from the 11th District GOP are all people who are on record voting against holding Brad Carver accountable for giving public financial support to Democrats while he served as a Republican officer, and they have never expressed regret about that decision. Trey Kelly did the same thing. They have voted contrary to the GRA in virtually every issue of controversy at various levels over the last ten years in GA GOP committees. Their vote on this occasion is not a surprise. Past behavior is predictive of future conduct. This is why the GRA and its affiliated chapters often recommend certain activists who have a reputation for election to certain positions of influence within the GA GOP and does not recommend others.
As a result of this first vote by the State Committee regarding Fulton, the State Committee then voted to require the Fulton County GOP to hold a third election for the position of Chair next Saturday. This one would not be done using poker chips. That vote passed 74 in favor to 72 against.
While most State Committee members voted along the same lines as in the first vote, a few members did vote differently. Joseph Brannan and Brian Laurens, for example, voted with the GRA on this second proposal, while Jason Shepherd voted against it. Ron Hooper did not abstain on this vote but voted in favor of it with most of the rest of the GRA membership. However, Brad Carver, Michael Williams, John Longshore, Louis DeBroux, and Andrew Abbott were among those who again voted against this second proposal.
According to multiple witnesses to the Fulton County GOP Convention on both sides of the dispute, the controversy arose when the convention attempted to hold a vote with colored poker chips to represent each candidate. Votes for Trey Kelly were supposed to be submitted with a blue poker chip, and votes for Susan Opraseuth with a yellow chip. Incumbent Fulton Chair Trey Kelly was declared the winner of the first ballot by a three-vote margin, but a number of discrepancies with the vote were quickly pointed out, which led to a second ballot.
Among the discrepancies: Two of the poker chips counted for Trey were identified as actually being green chips rather than blue chips. In addition, the report said that one more person had voted than the number of eligible delegates who qualified.
The body voted to override the determination of the Convention Chair and voted to hold a second vote. Under Roberts Rules of Order, the body of delegates at the convention have the authority to make such an authoritative decision and for it to be binding.
On the second ballot, which took place about 45 minutes after the first vote, Susan Opraseuth won by more than a ten vote margin. The Fulton County GOP Convention concluded with the body holding to that result.
Trey Kelly appealed that decision. Because Fulton County resides in multiple congressional districts, he could chose to have the controversy brought up on appeal to the district most likely to be friendly and agreeable with his position. He chose the 5th Congressional District GOP, which did reverse the decision of the Fulton County GOP Convention and declared Trey the winner on the first ballot. Susan Opraseuth appealed that decision to the State Committee.
Fulton County has fallen under increased scrutiny over election fraud allegations from the general election last November, and how that potential fraud impacted the entire state of Georgia and nation. It is no wonder, then, that Republicans across the state would find an interest in Fulton getting itself properly in order.
Last Saturday saw the Georgia Republican Assembly membership make great strides for freedom as a new record of GRA members from around the state were elected to District & State Committee positions in the GAGOP! We appreciate all the new activists who participated and made these victories possible.
In the 14th Congressional District GOP Convention, GRA-member Denise Burns(Catoosa) was elected as the new Chair of the 14th District—Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene ‘s district! In the 6th District, our GRA Treasurer Nathan Porter (Fulton) was elected as the Chair of the 6th District. These will join 3rd District Chair Mike Crane (Coweta) who was re-elected on the GAGOP Executive Committee, the board that oversees Georgia’s republican outreach and operations across the state.
In addition, many GRA leaders and members were elected and re-elected to the GAGOP State Committee, including Cobb RA Chairman Nathaniel Darnell from the 11th, Pamela Rearden from the 6th, Banks Wise from the 11th, Caroline Jeffords from the 11th, and our GRA President Alex Johnson from the 6th. In the 14th District, GRA member Ed Painter, Perry Greene, Joanna Hildreth and Todd Noblitt were all elected for the first time to the State Committee!
These come on the heels of great victories across our county leadership in the state. For example, the GRA’s former NFRA Director Ron Hooper was elected as the Chairman of Banks County. GRA member Salleigh Grubbswas elected as the new Chair of Cobb County promising reform as well. The Cherokee County GOP cleaned house, wiping out obstructionists and bringing in fresh new leaders eager to work together!
Now the GRA activists, eager for reform and accountability, in the Georgia Republican Party turn their eyes toward the GAGOP State Convention in Jekyll Island on June 4-5th.
GOP District Conventions Proclaim Tremendous Solidarity in Resolutions Across the State
At the beginning of this year, tens of thousands of Republican voters in Georgia were screaming their disillusionment with Republican officials after the general election and runoff. Much of their consternation was due to those Republican officials failing to safeguard the elections from abuse and fraud, and then failing to examine the evidence before allowing the elections to be certified.
Of course, the GRA and its affiliated chapters has been pointing out for years how Republican officials often pay lip-service to Republican objectives and principles but chicken out when they’re in the walls of the capitol building. That’s why we were especially excited this year about the strong batch of resolutions coming through Republican county and congressional district organizations in their conventions reprimanding officials such as Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan, and Attorney General Chris Carr as well as renewing the GOP’s commitment to conservative pro-American policies.
GRA members Banks Wise (Cherokee) and Cobb GOP Chair Salleigh Grubbs generously agreed to split the additional cost of renting the convention floor for the extra time needed to address the resolutions at the 11th District Convention. In the 6th District, the delegates filed outside into the parking lot and proceeded to complete their convention business, braving the 75-degree heat and unrelenting sunshine. The resolutions not only called out corrupt Establishment officials such as Speaker David Ralston, Raffensperger, and Duncan, but also spoke out against the encroachment in government of Critical Race Theory and ideas such as “vaccine passports.”
They affirmed commitment to family issues (such as natural marriage & sexuality, protection of students’ biological gender, etc.), jury nullification, gun rights, and ID-verification for voting.
Establishment Republican don’t like passing these kinds of public statements of their principles because they’re afraid of being held accountable to them. Now it’s time to be sure to do just that: hold them accountable to them!
March 20th, 2021 Alpharetta, GA – Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger was denied election as a delegate in his own precinct this morning at the Fulton County Republican Caucuses. Raffensperger failed to even secure a nomination for delegate.
“We are sending a message that will be heard all around the state. Raffensperger has got to go” said one participant.
Raffensperger‘s defeat comes as a shock given that Republican elected officials are often treated like royalty whenever they seek to be made a delegate to anything.
Raffensperger had sent a note requesting to be made a delegate but no one nominated him and he did not attend the caucus.
Turnout was very high at the caucus with 60-70% of participants being first time attendees.
Former Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle also announced that he would be a candidate for Secretary of State next year. Belle Isle ran for Secretary of State in 2018, losing the primary runoff to Raffensperger.
Congressman Jody Hice is also believed to be planning a run for Secretary of State.
On Tuesday, Whitfield County voters once again rejected Redevelopment Powers that would have granted the Board of Commissioners the authority to create an additional Tax Allocation District within the County. GRA members in Whitfield County are overjoyed to see this kind of “Crony Capitalist” attempt get shot down by a majority vote with 1,986 people voting “No” and only 1,395 voting “Yes.”
Redevelopment Powers were approved by the voters for several Cities in 2014, but were rejected by the voters for the unincorporated areas of Whitfield County. The Dalton Daily Citizen reported that Chairman Jevin Jensen, prior to the vote, suggested that now that the County voters have seen TADs in use, they may be more receptive to the idea, but Tuesday’s election proved otherwise.
The March 16th special election was intended to fill the term of the late Commissioner Roger Crossen who passed away in office last year. This election, which was originally only going to be held in District 3 of the County was expected to have very low voter turnout, until Representative Kasey Carpenter seized the opportunity to include a question about controversial Redevelopment Powers.
The question was placed on the ballot due to the passage of HB61 in the 2021 legislative session which granted Whitfield County the authority to “…cary out community redevelopment, to create tax allocation districts, to issue tax allocation bonds,…” and required that this Act must be put before the voters for approval or rejection.
The author of the bill was GA State Representative Kasey Carpenter (R-Dalton), who is himself a Dalton business owner whose private hotel enterprise has, in the past, come under criticism for being the recipient of this kind of corporate welfare. In 2018 he was the recipient of Tax Increment Financing which uses tax payer dollars to help fund private enterprise for business owners in attractive occupational fields, who have the right connections and who can persuasively convince the local government officials that their business venture will eventually increase tax revenue. Many Whitfield taxpayers have had cause to wonder if they too could make a similar argument for why they should be spared the tax burden other citizens and businesses bear?
Couldn’t most of us, if given a tax break and additional financing from the government, stimulate the economy and eventually create more tax revenue for the County too?
In less than a month, this cronyist bill was fast tracked through the legislative process and then signed by the Governor. The co-sponsors were Rep. Carpenter’s fellow Northwest Georgia officials Rep. Jason Ridley (R-Chatsworth) and Rep. Steve Tarvin (R-Chickamauga) all of whom would appear somewhat out of touch with their more conservative constituency which disapproves of this kind of corporate welfare scheme.
When the Redevelopment Powers (TAD) question was added to the March 16 ballot, the election became county-wide which then forced all the voting precincts to open, not just those in District 3. The opening of these additional precincts is estimated to have cost the taxpayers an additional $25,000 in administration, for which Rep. Carpenter drew some additional criticism from the Whitfield GOP who called it “special interests”. For most of the County, the entire ballot contained only one referendum question and the voters were so strongly against it, they were willing to take time away from their jobs and families to show up and let their voice be heard in a decisive “No”.
Crony Capitalism (which really isn’t capitalism at all) is defined as:
An economy in which success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials. It may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, or other forms of state interventionism.
The idea behind “Redevelopment Powers” stems from a belief that it is the role of local government to “plan”, “develop”, or “create growth” within the economy. TADs are believed to be a tool at the Commissioners’ disposal to aid them in that task.
By Georgia law, less than 10% of the County can be included in a Tax Allocation District, which means that a small portion of taxpayers get special tax treatment and have the potential for government funds to help finance their operations. This kind of compartmentalization for special treatment is by definition discriminatory, and forces the other 90% of the County to bear an unfair tax burden.
The City or in this case the County, designates a specific geographic area that has the potential for redevelopment but suffers from blight or underinvestment. A TAD incentivizes developers by “freezing” the current property values and then as the properties are improved, the taxable value increases. Other unelected boards tasked with this kind of economic planning are sometimes called a Joint Development Authority, and are appropriately named because they create a marriage between private business and local government for the purpose of development which they claim is mutually beneficial. The loser in this kind of deal is usually the oblivious taxpayer and the hard working small business owner who does not have the team of lawyers, accountants and political connections to be able to secure government subsidies.
This type of scheme is becoming more and more commonplace. It is estimated that over $500 million in TAD bonds have been issued in the state of Georgia alone.
Because this type of cronyism occurs at the local level, it represents a great opportunity for conservative activists to engage effectively and restore free market principles for their community.
Our Founding Fathers recognized that alliances between big business and big government had enormous potential for corruption, partiality, and inequality. These alliances often lead to unjust judgment on the part of Government leaders which is warned against in Leviticus 19:15:
“Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.”
The Founders did not assign government the role of engineering the perfect economy, creating jobs or making loans to entrepreneurs that they believe to be worthy. Rather, the jurisdiction of civil government envisioned by the Founding Fathers was extremely limited focused primarily on justice and defense, and was economically neutral thereby allowing the organic free market to pick the winners and losers.
“A just security to property is not afforded by that government, under which unequal taxes oppress one species of property and reward another species: where arbitrary taxes invade the domestic sanctuaries of the rich, and excessive taxes grind the faces of the poor; where the keenness and competitions of want are deemed an insufficient spur to labor, and taxes are again applied, by an unfeeling policy, as another spur; in violation of that sacred property, which Heaven, in decreeing man to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow, kindly reserved to him, in the small repose that could be spared from the supply of his necessities. … such a government is not a pattern for the United States.
“If the United States mean to obtain or deserve the full praise due to wise and just governments, they will equally respect the rights of property, and the property in rights: they will rival the government that most sacredly guards the former; and by repelling its example in violating the latter, will make themselves a pattern to that and all other governments.” – James Madison, National Gazette, 27 March 1792