Thursday, August 21, 2008

Circular logic

Karen Handel's response to what she feels are disingenuous attacks on her with her own disingenuous column.

It's disingenuous because it responds with an argument of 'no I'm not, you guys are' which is beyond childish for an elected official to engage in. She combats numerous allegations of letting partisan allegiances guide policy in the secretary of state's office by responding with her own allegations of partisan politics being employed against her.

Of course, it's what Handel doesn't say that makes her response even more suspect.

Jim Powell was disqualified as a candidate for District 4 of the Public Service Commission for a simple reason: Under Georgia law, Powell is not a resident of the district and is ineligible to run for the office, or to serve should he be elected. Georgia law states that, if someone has claimed a homestead exemption, the specific address of the exemption shall be deemed the person's residence address.

This is misleading because, as the Administrative Law Judge noted, the homestead exemption is one component worth considering in determining one's residence. There was justifiable reason to believe that Powell was - and is - a resident of the district based on the evidence examined, and the ALJ laid out a perfectly rational case affirming Powell's residency based on additional factors.

It should also be noted that Handel - as is practice for such cases - is the one who sought guidance from the ALJ in determining what course of action to take. She adhered to almost all recommendations offered ... except this one. So what she did was seek more experienced legal counsel for a ruling, said ruling ran contrary to her own thought process and then deliberately chose to ignore it.

Also, I don't understand this ...

In addition, the timing of (Bill) Shipp's column coincides with a partisan grassroots effort directed at my office to drop Powell's case and let him appear on the ballot in November. I'll leave it to the readers to decide if this is a mere coincidence.

Well, of course it isn't. If there is a grassroots effort to point out Handel's partisan handling of the office, they probably targeted Shipp as a member of the media for someone to be aware of this case. This effort is being spearheaded by Take Back Georgia, and I've gotten emails from them about this. Of course, that doesn't mean I'm a part of it by any means, and it doesn't mean Shipp is either.

It means Take Back Georgia is employing an effective media outreach campaign, particularly if one of the state's top political commentators decides to pick up the story. It doesn't mean there's a conspiracy afoot. It means they do good PR.

Handel must be pretty paranoid.


Blogger Brian said...

C'mon Jmac.

"One of the state's top political commentators" -- funny how you throw that out after writing about how irrelevant Shipp has been for a couple of years now.

Karen Handel is a good and honest SOS. These kind of issues are bound to be contentious and people will never agree on them, but I don't buy the idea that she is involved in these kinds of conspiracies. Leaders have to make tough choices, and it was easy to see both sides in the Powell case. The others are pretty cut and dried, and I noticed you didn't comment on those.

9:11 AM  
Blogger Jmac said...

I'm not suggesting she's involved in any conspiracy, but I do think she's acting in an improper way with regard to the Powell case and the Joe Carter case (which Shipp noted and she ignored because, quite frankly, her actions were pretty indefensible). She addressed the Conlon case in a way that answers my questions, and I never had any problem with her removal of Keith Gross from the ballot.

As a sidenote, I do think Shipp is rather irrelevant ... but that doesn't remove the fact that he's still regarded as one of the top political commentators in the state, nor does that make his accusations any less worthy of exploration.

But here's the thing ... this is a big deal, and the sad part is no one is paying attention. Shipp's gone nuts - we all get that - but I don't feel his declining abilities have anything to do with the problems that exist here with the SoS office. But because it's primarily being picked up by blogs and Shipp, folks write it off as not worthy of some deeper exploration.

At best, Handel is honestly trying to interpret the law and, quite frankly, failing on some key levels, while at worst she's deliberately meddling in elections to benefit her party.

Neither option makes me feel terribly comfortable.

11:36 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

Correct me if I am wrong, but on the Carter case, is it accurate to say that no democrats qualified in the first place, and that is why "requalifying" was not reopened on the Democratic side? The local Democratic party couldn't find someone to run against Carter, but then conveniently wanted to run once he said he wasn't going to compete. Fascinating....

11:47 AM  
Blogger Jmac said...

You're not wrong about not finding anyone to run, but isn't that beside the point? If state law requires that the qualifying be reopened, you can't pick and choose who you open it for (particularly since Handel is trying so hard to adhere to state law).

And, as you noted, it wouldn't have been a problem anyway since there was no candidate to run - which is a problem in its own right. Why keep it closed then?

11:54 AM  
Blogger griftdrift said...

Here we go again.

First the sop.

Democrats should absolutely make this a political issue. Given Karen Handel's primary campaign issue was competence, even an implication of political shenanigans would be damaging. Democrats should run with that and they should run with it all day long.

HOWEVER, stop trying to make the legal argument because for the most part you are wrong and it just muddies the waters.

"This is misleading because, as the Administrative Law Judge noted, the homestead exemption is one component worth considering in determining one's residence."

Homestead Exemption is not just one component but a completely separate and explicitly defined requirement in the statute. It states very clearly that it establishes residency. Now further in the statute it reads the ALJ and the Secretary may (MAY) consider other factors. The ALJ considered those other factors to outweigh the Homestead and the SOS did not. Now the motivations may have been underhanded but the legality of her actions is unquestionable.

"It should also be noted that Handel - as is practice for such cases - is the one who sought guidance from the ALJ in determining what course of action to take".

It's not practice to have an administrative hearing, it is a legal requirement. Once again Handel was following the law.

And all this ignores the point that Powell could have avoided this whole mess if he hadn't been self-serving and changed his homestead two years ago.

There is political hay here for Democrats but they better be careful how wide a swath they try to reap or the "law and order" Republicans will turn their on dogs on them.

12:02 PM  
Blogger griftdrift said...

FYI Creative Loafing is reporting Powell won.

5:46 PM  

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