Studdard campaign whizzes on the truth, commits political fraud
OPINION — I’m disappointed in David Studdard. He’s running a truth-challenged runoff race against Marty Harbin for the Republican nomination to the Georgia Senate, District 16 (Fayette, Spalding, Pike and Lamar counties).
His robo-calls have been misleading at best, calling himself the “only real” conservative in the race. He’s about as real as watermelon Kool-Aid, having the flavor but none of the substance.
But Studdard represents the old guard of the GOP, desperately clinging to fading power against upstarts like Harbin, who represent founding principles rather than “for sale” politicians.
Studdard’s camp has authored two hit pieces designed to show up in your mail boxes just before election day. Studdard’s supporters’ hit pieces are just flat-out lies.
One mailer links Marty Harbin to some “bill to allow sex offenders at our schools.”
The second accuses Harbin of wanting to “risk lives” after “his ideas ... bankrupt seniors” and “close hospitals in Fayette, Spalding and Lamar counties.”
Having known Marty Harbin for nearly a quarter century, I’m throwing the flag and calling foul on Studdard and his friends.
I emailed Studdard Monday and asked for an explanation.
“I have had two conversations with Marty today. He called me this afternoon and told me about this. I have assured him and I assure you, I have no idea where this is coming from. Marty and I are working together to find out who is doing this. What Marty described to me is disgusting and I absolutely condemn it. This has no place in this race. If I am able to determine who is doing this, I will do everything in my power to stop it,” Studdard wrote back.
I emailed him back, “Would not a call from you to your mailing house holding mailing permit #96 in Kennesaw answer your (and my) questions about who is behind these two pieces? With supporters like these, who needs enemies, right?”
Studdard’s response: “That particular mail permit has been used by dozens of campaigns in Georgia and has been paid by multiple campaigns in 2014. I believe Marty’s campaign used it also. We called them today and asked what mail we have there. Nothing like what Marty described is up there. And no one from my campaign has seen it.”
How lawyer-like. Here’s my problem with Studdard’s carefully phrased response. If he doesn’t know and can’t find out who is paying for a large, expensive mailing on his behalf, calculated to benefit only Studdard, across four counties — after being an Atlanta cop and now an attorney — then he’s too dumb to be writing laws for the rest of us. And if he does know, then he is just a very bad liar.
So I question whether Studdard is doing “everything in my power to stop it.” Notice also that he did not disown the content of the hit pieces.
These lying mailers introduce me to a set of Studdard’s fervent friends: Willing to do or say anything to get their bought-and-paid-for candidate elected even if that means slandering a good man in the process.
And Marty Harbin is a good man. I’ve known Marty for nearly 25 years. His family-owned agency currently carries all my business insurance coverage and has since 1993, the year The Citizen came into existence.
Marty has always stood with me when I needed him. He has always been reachable, on both business and personal levels.
Marty is loyal and he has never lied to me. He is a man of his word. He gets things done. He is and will continue to be a man of integrity, whether he gets elected or not. I count him as my friend.
I don’t personally know Studdard. The singular memory I carry of him is our Dec. 5, 2012, front-page headline, “Cops grab lawyer for whizzing on a tree” (http://thecitizen.com/articles/12-04-2012/cops-grab-lawyer-whizzing-tree). Outside a bar, “Studdard said he saw a former client who he felt was in no shape to drive home, and he offered her a ride home or a chance to call a cab or a friend to pick her up. Before they had a chance to do that, however, Studdard went to relieve himself ...” the news story said.
Fayetteville cops took the former cop and current attorney to the pokey for his display. In that, at least, the innocent tree was the only victim.
In a mental cartoon, I picture Studdard and a bunch of big-money Atlanta power brokers standing together and whizzing on a tree labeled “Truth,” and one of them turns to look at you, the voter, and says, “You’re next.”
My thought? Mr. Studdard exposes himself publicly, for the second time.
Here’s Harbin’s response:
“I had hoped that this campaign would remain positive and clean, but it looks as if the power brokers and lobbyists in Atlanta are determined to get my opponent elected. An un-named person forwarded me the mailing pieces that are going to be used to attack my character because I simply returned a questionnaire that I had received. These people have linked me to a candidate that the organization supported, but in fact, I made contributions to Wes Cantrell, who was running against their candidate.
“These mailing pieces are funded by the power brokers and lobbyists in Atlanta who do not want me to be elected. If you want to know the truth, then you need to follow the money. The evidence shows that the majority of Mr. Studdard’s funding is coming from people outside the 16th District — mainly from Atlanta.
“From the reports filed June 30, 2014, Mr. Studdard received 70 percent of his contributions from outside of the district and only 30 percent from within the district. The people of the 16th District should be represented by a senator that represents them, not the power brokers and lobbyists in Atlanta. It is this group that has chosen to discredit and defame my character so the candidate that they support can win this election.
“There is no truth whatsoever in what is being communicated in these mailings. They are slanderous lies and must be refuted. This is the type of thing that often happens, but should not and does not need to happen in politics. There needs to be transparency, honesty and integrity in those who hold or run for office, and we must demand it by holding them accountable for the things they say and do.”
[Cal Beverly has been editor and publisher of The Citizen since its founding in 1993. He has lived in Peachtree City since 1977.]