ATLANTA, Ga – During the pre-legislative conference, Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston confirmed they would form a special committee concerning election integrity.
The committee will devote its “full attention” to restoring confidence in the election process. Several Georgians continue to believe voter fraud occurred in the presidential election, but three recounts confirmed the results.
Ralston added new voting legislation could be introduced this session.
“I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t pass significant measures this session, assuming the governor approved them and signed them into law,” Ralston commented.
Ralston tasked the election integrity committee with two items:
- keep elections open and accessible to all registered voters.
- ensure proper oversight and security of the election’s process.
The members of the committee will be announced next week.
However, Ralston urged caution before making too many changes to existing election laws. One change he supported was ending jungle primaries. He asked potential members of the committee to include that provision in any legislation brought forward.
When questioned, Ralston didn’t commit to removing no-excuse absentee voting in Georgia or removing the 50 plus rule for Georgia elections.
“I’m certainly going to listen to both sides of that and frankly I don’t know where I’m going to come down, but someone is going to have to make a very strong case,” Ralston stated.
Ralston thanked Senators Kelly Loeffler (R) and David Perdue (R) for their service and congratulated Senators-elect Jon Ossoff (D) and Raphael Warnock (D).
He added that Republicans in Georgia and across the country will need to create a path forward.
“Our Republican party, and frankly our government, is at its best when we’re working for our people. We address fundamental issues that make people’s lives better. We have to turn our attention from those seeking to divide us and focus our attention on the work that brings us together,” Ralston remarked.
Other items for the 2021 session include COVID-19 relief, mental health, education, and more.
ATLANTA – House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) and House Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Shaw Blackmon (R-Bonaire) announced today that the committee will hold a hearing next week on voting processes and elections in Georgia.
“Ahead of the critical Jan. 5 U.S. Senate runoff, it is imperative that we ensure free and fair elections that inspire confidence and certainty in the result,” said Speaker Ralston. “For that reason, I’m asking Chairman Blackmon and his committee to act swiftly and aggressively and follow the facts wherever they may lead so as to reassure Georgia voters their vote will count in January. Over the last year, I have been outspoken regarding my concerns with election processes like jungle primaries and mail-in voting, and I will continue to advocate for transparent and secure elections.”
The House Governmental Affairs Committee will convene on Thursday, Dec. 10 to continue the work they began earlier this year when Speaker Ralston asked them to look into irregularities with the June 2020 primary election. The House of Representatives spent much of the 2020 legislative session discussing election laws, including serious concerns about the legality of the Secretary of State’s decision to send out unsolicited mail-in ballot applications without legislative input or oversight.
The focus of the committee’s work next week will be to ensure the security and efficiency of the January 2021 U.S. Senate runoff and other future elections.
“We appreciate Speaker Ralston’s support of this effort, and take seriously the trust placed in us to conduct this inquiry in a thorough and expeditious fashion,” said Chairman Blackmon. “Our committee will seek any credible evidence of fraud or wrong-doing and determine what, if any, legislative action may be necessary to preserve the sanctity of the ballot box. When our Democratic colleagues had concerns earlier this year, Speaker Ralston asked our committee to investigate, and he has done so again now in light of current concerns. I know our members will welcome the opportunity to examine and debate this crucial topic.”
Further details about the hearing will be released next week. The House Governmental Affairs Committee report on the June 2020 primary election may be found here: http://www.house.ga.gov/Documents/CommitteeDocuments/2020/GovernmentalAffairs/Elections_Investigation_Report.pdf.
Blackmon’s committee has established an email for Georgians to report voting irregularities at [email protected].
When a Georgia State House member casts its vote and the vote board locks, a screen shot is automatically taken with the time of the vote on the picture. Also the Georgia House sends out a tweet with the date and time a bill passes.
On June 23rd there appeared to be 2 hours and 18 minutes between SB 474 and HB 426, The Hate Crimes Bill. Between the two bills was HB 838 the Peace Officers’ Bill of Rights. State Representative Matt Gurtler voted YES on SB 474, he was ABSENT for the vote on HB 838 Peace Officers’ Bill of Rights, and Gurtler voted NO on HB 426 the Hate Crimes Bill.
Article continues below pictures.
Google maps says it takes an hour and twenty one minutes from the State Capitol to Carnesville, the Franklin County county seat. Round trip would have been 2 hours and 42 minutes not counting time to get to and from your car at the Capitol. So how did Matt Gurtler get to Franklin and back in two hours and eighteen minutes? Then there is the photo which he claims is not real, taken at the Capitol elevator door with a timestamp of 3:15. The House Tweet vote time for HB 838 shows the vote was taken at 3:04.
After hearing that a photo may have been altered I felt it was necessary to dig deeper. This is a serious accusation. Was the Clyde campaign trying to make Gurtler look like he doesn’t support law enforcement? Was Gurtler being unfairly smeared by his opponent?
Or is he really Dr. No or No Show Gurtler? At a time when we are hearing “defund the cops” Law Enforcement in Georgia want to know which Lawmakers have their backs. On June 23rd the Georgia State House at approximately 3:05 passed 92-74 the Peace Officers’ Bill of Rights and Standards for Punishing Individuals Who Commit Offenses Against Peace Officers.
Absent during the vote was Georgia State Representative Matt Gurtler. Gurtler is in a runoff against Andrew Clyde to be the Republician candidate on the ballot for the 9th Congressional District in November. The seat is currently held by Doug Collins.
When Gurtler was asked where he was that caused him to miss the vote on HB 838 and does he support law enforcement his answers were “sure I support law enforcement” and I’m running for office and had some campaign issues to take care of.
Missing this important vote has many in law enforcement in the 9th district asking what was more important at that time than showing support for our peace officers? What campaign business? Where was he at the time of the vote? Then the photo appears. One that shows Gurtler at the doors of the elevator at the Capitol.
Immediately the Gurtler campaign goes into damage control claiming the photo is photoshopped and he was in Franklin county at the time of the vote on HB 838.
(Below is the clip from the debate Friday, July 17th.)
In a debate on July 17th in Jackson County, Gurtler claims the photo was photoshopped, that he was in Franklin county.[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqf-XzeX8m8[/embedyt]
Moderator: House Bill 838 known as the Peace Officers’ Bill of Rights you did not vote on that, you were not present when that bill came to the floor, why not?
Matt: I support law enforcement, what I think is disgusting is photoshopping pictures of me when I am not at the Capitol, we recessed at noon. I went to go talk to people in Franklin county. To understand their needs and return back to the Capitol. I support any Bill that upholds life, liberty and the constitution. To say I walked on the vote, I have never walked on a vote.
Moderator: You’re saying the photo that shows you at the Capitol is photoshopped?
Matt: Yes, I left at noon and got back around three hours later back to the chamber to make it in time for the Hate Crimes Bill.
Moderator: Would you like to respond to that Mr. Clyde?
Andrew Clyde: Sure, it is not a photoshopped photo at all. It’s an I-phone live photo and it has a timestamp Matt. I think the people of Georgia need to know how you would have voted on the bill, Yay or nay?
Matt: Yes, I would support any bill that supports the constitution and supports our law enforcement.
Several of Gurtler’s votes in his career as a state representative that he voted NO on, he would say although he found many things in the bill he liked he had to vote NO because a specific part he found unconstitutional.
The question that remains unanswered is whether Gurtler thought HB838 is constitutional?
In Atlanta Press Club Debate Sunday July 19th during the candid question segment Clyde chose to ask Gurtler again about his whereabouts at the time of the vote on HB838.
Clyde: You missed this vote but I think voters would still like to know do you believe that HB838 also known as the Peace Officers’ Bill of Rights is constitutional and would you have voted yay or nay on this specific bill as it is written?
Matt: I said yes. That I would support any bill that upholds the constitution and upholds life, liberty and the property. I think it’s very disingenuous to attack me on something and photoshop photos when I’m not even in the Capitol. We had recess that day. I retired after talking to constituents in Franklin county. ‘
Gurtler again makes the claim the photo is photoshopped and he was in Franklin County at the time of the vote. He dodges Clyde’s direct question “Do you believe HB 838 is constitutional?” and “would you have voted YAY or NAY as it is written?”
So on Monday night, July 20th at the Fannin County Republican party meeting I asked Mr. Gurtler if he would be on my show Tuesday morning? He agreed to be on at 9am Tuesday morning. Late Monday night I received the following message from him cancelling due to a scheduling conflict.
Message from Gurtler: “Hey Brian, I thought I could do it. But my schedule won’t allow it. Was good to see you tonight.”
Message from Banks Wise, Gurtler’s campaign manager: “Hey Brian, good to see you. Matt spoke too soon and wasn’t aware of his schedule. He had a full day and can’t make it on the show.”
I attempted to get him to reschedule but received no answer to my text. I wanted to give Gurtler a chance to say with whom he was meeting in Franklin County at the time of the vote. Provide some hard facts. Surely someone took pictures of his visit.
I sent Gurtler a message last Friday night, July 24th, telling him I wanted to talk to him Saturday at the Stephens County Republican Party BBQ. He knew I planned to ask him questions. After Gurtler finished speaking at the event I watched him sneaking out to avoid me speaking with me. While I don’t like ambush journalism there are some questions that need cleared up. If he makes a serious claim that the photo showing him at the Capitol is photoshopped and he was in Franklin County at the time of the vote on HB838, who was he meeting with and how did he make it to Franklin county and back to the Capitol to vote on the Hate Crimes Bill in 2 hours and eighteen minutes? His campaign manager Banks Wise maintains he was not at the Capitol June 23rd at the time of the HB 838 vote.
I think the voters in the 9th Congressional District along with all the Peace Officers in the Ninth District would like to know what could possibly be more important in Franklin County in this time of strife and turmoil than showing total and unanimous support for law enforcement.
I am still open to the answers and Matt Gurtler is welcome on my show anytime.