Saturday was a busy day in Georgia politics. It was county convention day. I arrived at the Walker County Civic Center feeling hopeful that the party was on a restorative path after months of infighting and desertions. It seemed like the events surrounding the Election Integrity Act of 2021 had become the issue that would unite party factions to face a common enemy.
The Walker Convention drew a large crowd this year. I’m told it was the highest attendance ever with 104 delegates. The opening speech by Senator Jeff Mullis roused the early morning crowd to cheers and applause. Representatives Steve Tarvin and Mike Cameron followed with brief speeches to set the tone for a smooth convention. We were on our way again. Hope was kindled. Until it wasn’t.
Sometime after the election of the new Walker County Chair (more on him in another post), someone sent me a picture of a resolution passed in Catoosa County. I didn’t look at it because I assumed it was one that some factions had been pushing to censure Governor Kemp, Lt. Governor Duncan, and Secretary Raffensberger. I thought it was unwarranted and would only deepen the divide. A few minutes later, another message prompted me to take a closer look.
A censure of Senator Jeff Mullis is surprising, in and of itself. The fact that it came from a county he won with 57.83% of the vote in his last primary against two strong challengers boggled the mind. It is unfortunate the littérateur of the resolution remains unknown. Drafting such frivolous nonsense as this surely pushed the writer to his or her intellectual limits.
It is curious why this was brought to a GOP convention in the first place as the reasons given for the censure are a contradiction of conservatism. The first reason given is an imagined failure to advance constitutional carry. I can only speculate that the supporters of the censure ignored or were unaware of House Bill 2, Georgia Constitutional Carry Act of 2021. Speaker Ralston decided against bringing it up for a vote in light of the recent string of mass shootings across the country. It was a prudent choice and in the best interests of the party as a whole. I fail to see how Senator Mullis is to blame.
The next two reasons are related and my favorite. They relate to Senate Bill 221. The resolution is intentionally misleading. SB 221 allows for the creation of eight “leadership committees” that will be able to receive contributions and make expenditures during session. The officers eligible to create a leadership committee are: Governor, Lt, Governor, and opposing party candidates for Governor and Lt. Governor, as well as the caucus leaders for each party in both the House and Senate. Senator Mullis is not authorized to form a leadership committee. SB 221 gives Republicans a fighting chance to keep up with the Niagara of cash flowing to Georgia Democrats from big tech. The Democratic Party’s relationship with big tech is far more concerning than any part of SB 221. The Center for Responsive Politics found that 98% of internet company contributions went to democrats in 2020.
Now that the facts are clear about the reasons given for the censure of Senator Mullis, there are two lingering questions. First, did any of the intellectual jellyfish that voted for the censure bother to read it and question the obvious contradiction of conservatism? Reason one was an imagined failure on constitutional carry which, when passed, will expand second amendment rights, This is obviously in line with conservatism. The other reasons given for the censure were actually an expansion of the first amendment and free speech rights as SB 221 allows for new contributions in the political process. The Supreme Court has held that money equals speech. How do the resolution supporters reconcile censuring Senator Mullis for not expanding their protected individual rights outlined in the first reason but then add that his bill to expand the individual right of free speech is also a reason for censure?
The second question I am left with is whether the writer of the resolution or those who voted for it are truly Republicans or conservatives at all. The author filled the censure with endless moral preening while imputing moral and integrity failures to Senator Mullis without any evidence of such failings. As stated above, Senator Mullis is subject to the same campaign finance requirements. Even if one takes the author to be genuine in the concern over contributions to leadership committees during session, it doesn’t matter because we don’t assume guilt because a perceived opportunity for corruption exists. The Democratic Party might be different. Given the contradictory nature of the resolution as well as the factual omissions, the author and resolution supporters might be more comfortable in a progressive party where free speech may be limited and moral grandstanding is praised.
The silliness of censuring Senator Mullis at all is almost enough to make me agree with this caustic take on Democracy from H.L. Mencken.
“Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”
I hope exposing this censure as a laughable but not-at-all humorous joke will dissuade others from glibly using the political process the way it was Saturday in Catoosa County. Some people, no doubt, cheered and congratulated those behind this stunt. I am sure those responsible felt that they did something special. Allow me to disabuse you of that belief as well. The 27 who voted to adopt this mendacious resolution represent a tiny .06% of registered voters in Catoosa County.