The Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission has informed the leaders of the Canton Tea Party Patriots, the Cherokee Tea Party Patriots and the Review and Recommendations Committee to Assist County Government to respond to complaints filed by Cherokee County Commissioner Karen Bosch.
The letters from the state ethics board, dated June 19, said the organizations’ leaders have 30 days to respond to the allegations in writing.
In her complaint filed earlier this month, Bosch alleges the Cherokee Tea Party Patriots have been collecting money and using the funds to convince voters to reject the upcoming sales tax referendum to fund regional transportation projects.
She also alleges the Canton Tea Party Patriots, chaired by Carolyn Cosby of Ball Ground, Review and Recommendations Committee to Assist County Government chairwoman, has been raising money to influence voters on which candidates to support in upcoming local elections.
Bosch, who is not running for re-election, said organizations disclosing to the public how they spend donations is “the responsible way to lobby.”
“I believe it is important that any group lobbying for or against votes on ballot referendums or for and against candidates should be willing to disclose where they get their money and how they spend it,” the county commissioner said.
However, Cosby said the organization has “no objection to responding and we certainly will.”
“There’s nothing to tell them,” she said, adding she believes there’s a “high likelihood” the case will eventually be dismissed.
Conrad Quagliaroli said he was “shocked” when he learned he has to respond to the allegations.
The local tea party leader said he equates Bosch’s allegations to “sleazy political tactics usually used by the unscrupulous left.”
“The fact is I’m still a U.S. citizen and I still have my First Amendment rights to speak out as I please as long as I’m not doing something illegal,” he said.
After the commission receives the responses to the allegation from the local tea party leaders, the ethics board will then launch an investigation to determine if Bosch’s allegations should proceed.
If they are determined to have merit, the complaints will be formally heard before the commission during one of its scheduled meeting.
If the complaints are dismissed, all parties involved will be informed in writing.
According to state law, independent committees are ones that make “independent expenditures,” or an expense that “expressly advocates the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate, but which is made independently of any candidate’s campaign.”
Committees are required to register with the state before collecting or spending contributions.