It is clear from the recent letter written by Marilyn Watts that she does not care about the truth or is in total denial of same. The suggestion that the actions by the Fayette County Republican Party (FCRP) to replace its own representative to the Board of Elections were merely personal in nature is belied by the facts.
Was it personal when her own Board of Elections recommended that the district attorney further investigate the allegations of voter fraud brought against her son, Lane Watts?
Was it personal when the state Board of Elections directed the Attorney General to conduct an independent investigation into her son’s alleged voter fraud? Was it personal when the Attorney General’s Office concluded that her son had in fact committed voter fraud and filed charges against him?
And more importantly, was it personal when the court found her son guilty of voter fraud and required that he pay $5,000, the maximum civil penalty that the court could have imposed?
The significance is that when an action for voter fraud was brought against her son before the Fayette County Board of Elections, of which Ms. Watts was a member, instead of assisting the board, she thwarted their efforts to investigate the matter.
The FCRP sought the replacement of Ms. Watts because there was evidence of misconduct on her part. These acts of misconduct constituted good cause for her removal from the Board of Elections and included the following acts, all of which were unrefuted at trial:
• Marilyn Watts retained the same attorney to represent her that was representing her son as he faced charges before her own Board of Elections.
• Marilyn Watts thwarted the efforts of her board in their investigation into her son’s voter registration by failing to provide information to them which her fellow board members testified at trial that they would have found helpful.
• Marilyn Watts failed to appear at the hearing despite receiving a validly issued subpoena to appear.
• Marilyn Watts, in fact, filed a false affidavit with the court in a futile attempt to have the subpoena quashed, in which she swore under oath that her board had never authorized the issuance of the subpoenas. Her own board members were unaware until time of trial that she had filed such an affidavit, and both testified that such an affidavit was false.
• Marilyn Watts failed to answer her board’s interrogatories properly served upon her requesting information about her knowledge of her son’s residency.
• Despite Marilyn Watts having recused herself from the matter, she not only accepted service, but acknowledged service when her son’s attorney filed a motion to set aside the board’s ruling against her son. This acknowledgement was done without authority and resulted in the waiver of various defenses available to her board.
At trial the other two members of the Board of Elections testified that thwarting or attempting to thwart an investigation of the board would constitute cause for a board member’s removal, and that was precisely why the FCRP sought to have Ms. Watts replaced.
It is understandable why Ms. Watts refused to testify and assist her board. The evidence presented at the state Election Board voter fraud hearing established that her son’s vehicle registration, driver’s license, income tax filings, and receipt of mail all signified that he resided at his mother’s home during the time in question.
A witness provided a sworn affidavit that her son, Lane Watts, was living with his mother, Marilyn Watts, who resided in the 13th Congressional District. Lane Watts changed his voter registration to reflect that he was living in the 3rd Congressional District when he in fact did not. The purpose was to serve in a leadership role and to vote in a district in which he did not reside.
It stands to reason that this fraudulent act by Mr. Watts not only rendered his tenure as chairman of the FCRP null and void, but, his appointment of his mother to the Fayette County Board of Elections as well.
It is not the FCRP, but Ms. Watts, who has no regard for the taxpayers’ money. If the petition was so frivolous, why did her attorney bill the county nearly $65,000? Why didn’t he file a motion to dismiss or a motion for summary judgment? Indeed, why didn’t the court grant her request for directed verdict?
Moreover, it should be understood that no petition would even have been filed if she had not sought a temporary restraining order enjoining the County Commission from recognizing the FCRP’s properly elected replacement to the Board of Elections.
The notion that a Board of Elections member can only be replaced if there is a showing of an over-turned election would have been rejected by the appellate court, but the County Commission refused to allow the FCRP access to the trial transcript.
The improper actions of Ms. Watts in thwarting the efforts of her own Board of Elections in their investigation of voter fraud are unconscionable and a violation of her solemn oath to uphold the laws of Georgia. These improper actions have had the effect of lessening public confidence in the Board of Elections, and undermined the integrity of the office.
The filing of the Petition by the FCRP was to stop the abuse of public trust. The pursuit of attorney’s fees would create a chilling effect on those citizens of Fayette County who are willing to stand up to public officials engaged in unethical actions.
Tyrone K. Jones, Sr.
Chairman, Fayette County Republican Party
Peachtree City, Ga.