Budget, also approved yesterday, provides $580k/year funding for new ‘investigative service’
SB 441 was the fourth legislative vehicle for language specifically authorizing the new investigative service. HB 1392 did not advance beyond committee. The House added the language to ‘elections omnibus’ HB 1464, but it was stripped out by the Senate Ethics Committee.
The language added to legislation yesterday gave the new investigative service jurisdiction that is broader than originally proposed: the bill authorizes the investigation of any violation of the Elections Code “which if established are sufficient to change or place in doubt the results of an election.” Among other violations, the Elections Code prohibits voter intimidation and making false sworn statements about elections.
The House and Senate also yesterday approved a version of the 2023 state budget appropriating $579,936 for the new investigative service. (Line 2815 of the budget)
The Florida Legislature recently created a $3.7 million-a-year ‘Election Police’ force.
Statement of Common Cause Georgia Executive Director Aunna Dennis
This is not how a ‘government of the people’ should be doing business. And these are not ‘the people’s priorities’ that are being served.
During yesterday’s chaos, it was very clear that some special or partisan interest wanted Georgia to have its own ‘Election Police’ force, just like Florida. So, now we have one – to the tune of almost $580,000 a year. That’s money that could and should be spent, instead, on things that would improve Georgians’ lives, like school lunches, housing assistance, and economic development programs that create good jobs.
As the Sine Die confetti settles, we urge the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to quickly adopt regulations making it clear that its investigators may not obstruct elections officials in their duties, particularly before elections are certified. The Bureau must make it clear to voters that the hypothetical situations suggested on the House floor last night will not happen.
And if the Bureau is now entrusted with investigating anything that could create doubt about our elections – we suggest they start, first, by investigating those who have been profiting by creating such doubt.
Sidney Powell, for example, reportedly raised almost $15 million ‘from election conspiracy theories’ – including discredited theories here in Georgia.
Dinesh D’Souza and True the Vote have apparently teamed up to produce a movie with allegations about the 2020 election – and D’Souza is expected to release a book about the claims that will retail for $26.99 a copy. The GBI has already said there’s not enough evidence to investigate their claims. But perhaps the GBI could investigate whether True the Vote has been giving false sworn statements about Georgia’s elections while appearing before legislative committees in other states, or whether they’ve just been able to avoid testifying under oath.
The GBI could also investigate those who have been creating doubt about our elections to justify legislation making it harder for Georgia voters to cast our ballots – and then raising money off that. For example, as one reporter phrased it, “Heritage [Action] has been at the forefront of weaponizing Trump’s Big Lie of widespread voter fraud in order to build support for policies that restrict access to the ballot” – and then bragged to donors that they ‘had crafted’ last year’s SB 202.
So many different groups and partisan extremists have been working to undermine confidence in Georgia’s elections. If the GBI is now going to send almost $580,000 of taxpayer money to investigate anything that could create ‘doubt’ about our elections – we suggest that they start there.