HOMER – Now-former Georgia House District 28 State Rep. Chris Erwin has appealed Senior Judge David Sweat’s ruling that grants Petitioner Dan Gasaway’s petition and threw out the Dec. 4 House District 28 Special Election, removing Erwin from office.
That appeal now heads to the Supreme Court of Georgia.
“The Supreme Court, rather than the Court of Appeals, has jurisdiction to hear this appeal because this is an appeal of an election contest and the Supreme Court has ‘exclusive appellate jurisdiction’ over appeals involving ‘cases of election contest’,” the appeal filed by Erwin’s attorney, Bryan Tyson, states.
That appeal was electronically filed in the Banks County Clerk of Court’s Office at 6:57 p.m. Monday, Feb. 11, and states it was sent to Petitioner Dan Gasaway’s attorney Jake Evans, as well as attorneys for Banks, Habersham and Stephens counties.
In a post on his Facebook account Tuesday, Gasaway took aim at Erwin.
“If Mr. Erwin is really that concerned about the people in the 28th District, he should withdraw his candidacy and concede that I won the Dec. 4 election,” Gasaway’s post reads. “We proved without a doubt that at least three people who were very public supporters of Mr. Erwin voted illegally. Without those three votes, I win the election. It’s simple math. Sounds like to me and anyone else interested in legal elections that it’s Mr. Erwin’s political career ambitions that are hurting the people of the 28th District.”
But not all discussion of the case took place on social media.
Banks County Commission Chairman Jimmy Hooper didn’t mince words when he openly discussed the case before convening Tuesday night’s Banks County Commission meeting.
“Almost now for weeks, in the local papers, local radio stations, state paper, regional papers and even to the national news, Banks County has been called a fraud,” Hooper said. “We have a secretary of state, on his website, is looking into voter fraud. I can tell you there’s been no fraud in Banks County.”
He addressed local media outlets AccessWDUN and The Banks County News in front of about 30 members of the audience.
“I’ve spent a lot of time – I guess I’ve spent probably 60 hours – in the last couple of weeks looking at cases in Georgia,” Hooper said. “I can’t find a single incident, Press, where a judge or the secretary of state has called for another election because of a mistake.”
Hooper said fraud means the act of deceiving or misrepresenting, or intentional perversion of the truth, and that hasn’t happened in his six years in office.
“Voter fraud means intentionally doing it on purpose,” Hooper said. “I can tell you that our registrar and all the fine people that ran the polls in Banks County for every election that I’ve been in office have been honest, trustworthy and above board, and when we have the press, when we have the newspapers, when we have the secretary of state, when we have a governor, when we have a disgruntled … candidate call and say out in the press that we’ve had voter fraud, shame on them! Shame on them!”
Hooper did not stop short of criticizing the presiding judge in the case.
“We had a very liberal Democratic judge who wanted to make a position statement,” Hooper said. “He took his opportunity and the power he had vested upon him to make a political statement. I sat through some of those hearings up there. One of the most sacred things we have in America is a secret ballot. You should not know who I vote for. But in that hearing, it almost came down to a point where you were almost identifying who people voted for.”
Hooper also said Gasaway questioning the county residency of Banks County Sheriff Carlton Speed was inappropriate.
“To bring up the pretext that your high sheriff does not live in your county, to do something slanderous, shame on them!” Hooper said. “Shame on them!”
Hooper insisted elections officials in Banks County administer elections fairly and honestly.
“I can tell you – I’ll bet the life of my grandchildren – that there is not a dishonest person working the polls in Banks County,” Hooper said. “I truly believe that. And if you don’t believe that, come by and talk to me, tell your neighbors to come by and talk to me.
“Once again, we had a mistake.” Hooper said. “When you have a mistake, what do you do? You fix it and move forward. That’s what you do. When this is all said and done, the people in Banks County have been disenfranchised. We do not have a single person at the Capitol speaking on our behalf – not a soul. I’ve been disenfranchised.”