Is Forsyth County’s state senator getting illegal campaign help?

(Note: The ethically challenged Forsyth County legislator depicted in Brambleman is not based on any real person, living or dead. But it could happen. Just sayin.)

Jack Murphy

It looks like Forsyth County’s financially troubled state senator, Jack Murphy, is getting some extracurricular (and ethically questionable) help in his attempt to fend off challenger Steve Voshall in the July 31 primary. Murphy, along with several other incumbents, has benefitted from mailings put out by a shadowy group called  “Georgia Republican Senate Caucus Promotion PAC.”

According to Georgia political website Peach Pundit, “This ‘PAC’ is not actually a political action committee at all, but in fact has registered as a independent political committee. This has a specific meaning as an IPC has transparency requirements for income and expenditures at the first dollar.” Voshall, a founding member of the Forsyth County Tea Party, says that the same photos and language appear in materials sent out by Murphy and the GRSCP PAC. Such a coordinated effort is illegal under state law.

We should ask: Who are these guys, and why do they like Jack Murphy “([R–Failed Bank],” as Peach Pundit unkindly puts it) so much?  Voshall calls it cronyism and and an example of how the Good Old Boy network at the state Capitol works.

Murphy isn’t the only one getting this help, but his opponent is the first to raise a red flag against the group, which apparently likes incumbents very much. Powerful Sens. Chip Rogers and Bill Heath have also had mailings from the group. And those are just the confirmed sightings.

Georgia has, by many accounts, the weakest political ethics laws in the nation. These laws are written and passed (or not written and not passed) by legislators who have come to count on gifts and donations from lobbyists and special interests.  I saw in one of Murphy’s mailings that he gets an “A+” rating from the Georgia Chamber of Commerce—suggesting that he goes out of his way to get a good grade from those interests.

By the way, Peach Pundit’s coverage on this issue  is headlined “Senate GOP Incumbents To Transparency: ‘EFF. YOU.'”

Meanwhile, Voshall has filed a formal ethics complaint with the (unfortunately rather toothless) State Ethics Commission.  Here’s what he said in his press release on the matter:

SECRET GROUP FUNDING SEN. MURPHY’S CAMPAIGN
Opponent Steve Voshall Files Ethics Complaint

CUMMING-  State Senate candidate Steve Voshall filed an ethics complaint with the State Ethics Commission involving the illegal funding of troubled Sen. Jack Murphy’s campaign.  The group, Georgia Republican Senate Promotion PAC, failed to file a disclosure required by Georgia law after spending thousands of dollars promoting Murphy for reelection.

“After all of the financial trouble that has plagued Sen. Jack Murphy, it is outright arrogance that he would have a secret group to fund his campaign,” said Steve Voshall.  “This is the kind of good old boy politics that I am running against.”

Voshall, who founded the Forsyth County Tea Party, said cronyism like this is the reason he became politically active.

“Jack Murphy has more than financial troubles, he is having political troubles at home,” said Voshall.  “He has tried to pull the wool over the eyes of the people he represents long enough.”

The group has sent three pieces of mail costing thousands of dollars promoting Jack Murphy as a good Senator.  They have not only funded him in secret, without filing a disclosure, there is also reason to believe that the group is coordinating with Murphy’s campaign.

Said Voshall, “The mail pieces being sent by Jack Murphy’s campaign and the mail being sent by this group are using the same photos and rhetoric.  There is no explanation how they would have the same information and photos unless they were coordinating, which is illegal under Georgia Law.”

Voshall asked that the State Ethics Commission shut the group down until they disclose their donors and expenditures.

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You can see Voshall’s complaint and supporting documents here. GA Transparency Complaint; Complaint Supporting Doc One; Complaint Supporting Doc Two.

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