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Georgia Election Board Member Voted On Cases Involving Counties He Lobbied For

Georgia State Election Board member Edward Lindsey voted on matters brought before the board involving clients he was a registered lobbyist for.

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A member of the Georgia State Election Board (SEB) participated in and voted on cases involving counties that he was a registered lobbyist for, The Federalist has learned.

In Georgia, members of the State Election Board are required to “avoid any appearance of conflict and/or impropriety,” according to the board’s Code of Conduct. In fact, members are expected to recuse themselves from any matter before the SEB in which the member or member’s employer has provided services to a “respondent, complainant, or witness.”

Georgia law also prohibits members of state boards from “engag[ing] in any business with the government, either directly or indirectly, which is inconsistent with the conscientious performance of his governmental duties.”

However, it appears SEB member Edward Lindsey voted on matters brought before the board involving DeKalb and Cobb Counties. Both counties appear to have contracted with a law firm where Lindsey is a registered lobbyist, according to lobbyist disclosure reports.

Disclosure reports also list the DeKalb County government and Cobb County government among Lindsey’s direct lobbying clients, but when asked to confirm that fact, Lindsey did not give a direct answer. Instead, he told The Federalist “I have in the past taken the position regarding the counties in question that since the counties’ election operations were governed by law by an independent County Election Board — which my firm does not represent — that there was no conflict.”

Lindsey was appointed to serve on the SEB by Georgia’s Republican-controlled House of Representatives in January 2022 and is up for re-confirmation in the coming weeks. Prior to his appointment, he served as the Georgia House majority whip from 2010-2013.

The Situation

According to Georgia lobbyist registration and disclosure reports, not only is Lindsey registered as a lobbyist for the governments of DeKalb and Cobb Counties, he’s also a lobbyist for Dentons US LLP, a global law and lobbying firm. According to its website, Lindsey is a “partner in Dentons’ Public Policy practice and serves as the head of the Firm’s Georgia State Government Affairs team.”

Documents reviewed by The Federalist show that DeKalb County first contracted with Dentons in January 2018, and has paid the firm $1.2 million to date. In December 2023, the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners requested the county’s Purchasing & Contracting Department extend DeKalb’s contract with Dentons to Dec. 31, 2024, which would pay the firm an additional sum of up to $240,000.

The Federalist also obtained a contract proposal between Cobb County and Dentons. Cobb County paid $60,000 to retain Dentons in 2023, according to OpenSecrets.

Despite these ties, Lindsey has declined to recuse himself from some matters involving the aforementioned counties that have been brought before the State Election Board. On Oct. 3, 2023, for instance, the SEB heard a case pertaining to a complaint filed against DeKalb County over several election-related issues, such as late poll openings and poor practices surrounding absentee ballot tabulation. Investigators alleged that DeKalb’s election board and former elections director Erica Hamilton violated state law.

During the meeting, Lindsey made a motion “for a technical violation with a letter of instruction to DeKalb County,” saying to the DeKalb respondents: “I do understand what you guys were going through.”

“Similar to what I’ve done before. I don’t see a reason to send this to the [attorney general],” Lindsey said. “It looks like you guys are doing what you — are fixing the problem. I think it is a technical violation. So we’ll send — I make a motion for a finding of a technical violation with a letter of instruction to DeKalb County.”

The board ultimately voted to send a letter of instruction to DeKalb’s election board and referred Hamilton to the attorney general’s office. More recently, Lindsey presided over a case involving Cobb County last month.

In a statement to The Federalist, Lindsey said, “If a claim involves a direct allegation against a client of our firm, I have in the past and will in the future recuse myself.”

“If, however … it involves merely an individual in a county or an independent entity separate from our client given the nature of our representation, I have not recused myself,” Lindsey said. “I have to look at the particulars of the matter involved. I think in the end I have been fair and tried to be judicious in this regard.”

Mail-In Voting Activism

A deeper dive into Lindsey’s background reveals that the SEB member also previously lobbied on behalf of the National Vote at Home Coalition, which, according to InfluenceWatch, “works to lobby for the nationwide adoption of a mail-balloting system through the regulatory and legislative processes.” The group revealed plans in its 2019 annual report to “expand the use and acceptance of vote-from-home policies” during the 2020 election, and enjoys ties to several left-wing organizations, including Rock the Vote and Democracy Fund.

The National Vote at Home Institute also gifted $35,104 to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office in 2020, according to the group’s tax filings.

The organization’s interference in the 2020 election was much more expansive. According to InfluenceWatch, National Vote At Home CEO Amber McReynolds “provided consulting to various state- and county-level governments on implementing mail-in ballots,” and, as Time Magazine reported, was in “frequent communication” with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in the months leading up to the contest.

Georgia “adopted several of Vote at Home’s key recommendations, including a new online portal for voters to request absentee ballots, expanded absentee ballot drop boxes, ballot tracking so that voters can follow their ballot’s progress and, crucially, a rule change that allowed county election workers to begin processing absentee ballots 15 days before Election Day,” the Time report reads.

The Center for Renewing America filed an IRS complaint against the group and the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) in September 2022, alleging the organizations engaged in a “partisan electioneering” scheme to boost Joe Biden in the 2020 election. The IRS did not disclose whether it has acted on the complaint when The Federalist probed the agency over the matter in September 2023.

Lindsey has used his position on the State Election Board to protect the state’s mail-in voting policies. Last month, he helped defeat (3-2) a proposed SEB resolution that would have sent a recommendation to the state legislature to repeal no-excuse mail-in balloting. Lindsey was joined in his opposition to the measure by the board’s sole Democrat appointee and Chairman John Fervier, who was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp.

Lindsey previously “supported the switch to no-excuse absentee voting” during his time in the Georgia General Assembly, according to the Georgia Recorder.

DeKalb County Shenanigans

DeKalb County — one of Lindsey’s clients — has also been a major proponent of mail-in voting policies. Last year, the locality accepted a $2 million grant from the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) as part of its membership with the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence, an $80 million venture by left-wing nonprofits to “systematically influence every aspect of election administration” and advance Democrat-backed voting policies such as mail-in balloting in local election offices. The Alliance was launched by CTCL in April 2022 and seeks to build upon CTCL’s 2020 “Zuckbucks” scheme.

It’s worth mentioning that Lindsey has regularly penned op-eds in CNN decrying concerns about election integrity issues in Georgia.

While Georgia Republicans passed a law (SB 202) in March 2021 banning the private funding of local election offices, DeKalb officials used a loophole in the statute to justify accepting the grant from the Alliance. Instead of having their election office accept the funds, DeKalb officials had the county’s finance department apply for the grant. As Democrat and DeKalb Board of Registration and Elections Chair Dele Lowman Smith admitted, this was done “since election offices are not allowed to receive grants directly,” Decaturish.com explained.

While Georgia Republicans fast-tracked a law (SB 222) closing the loophole, the final version of the bill signed by Kemp was not as strong as the one originally introduced. According to CNN, the House Rules Committee jettisoned a provision included in the initial draft of the bill that would have forced DeKalb County to return the $2 million grant to CTCL.

Lindsey told The Federalist he did not lobby the Georgia General Assembly to strike the language from SB 222 seeking to force DeKalb County to return the $2 million grant to CTCL.

The county’s acceptance of the grant prompted DeKalb County GOP Chair Marci McCarthy to file a complaint with the SEB on Feb. 5. 2023. She alleged the DeKalb elections department circumvented the “spirit” of SB 202. Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections (RITE), an election integrity legal group, filed a similar complaint.

On Monday, McCarthy sent an email to Raffensperger, Georgia’s election board, and House Speaker Jon Burns, in which she inquired about the status of her and RITE’s complaints. She also claimed that Raffensperger told her “colleague in the election integrity movement who inquired [about] the status of the complaints” that they have been “dismissed.”

“When asked if a report of investigation had been issued, Secretary Raffensperger’s response was that his office ‘did not issue reports,'” the email reads.

Georgia State Election Board Paralegal Alexandra Hardin told The Federalist that an investigation into the allegations raised in McCarthy’s complaint is “still pending and open,” and findings have yet to be presented to the board.

Burns did not respond to The Federalist’s request for comment on whether he still plans to move forward with Lindsey’s re-confirmation, given these revelations. He also did not say whether he’s concerned about Lindsey’s objectivity as a SEB member on matters involving his clients.


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