Why Are Georgia Officials Silent on Rick Thompson’s Link to Possible Voter Suppression Scheme?
(ATLANTA) — Georgia Government Transparency & Campaign Finance Commission (Ethics Commission) Chair Jake Evans said the commission will investigate and staff or board members who have “credible allegations of wrongdoing against them” — but has not committed yet to investigating Commissioner Rick Thompson’s connections to Blue Sky Medical Labs, LLC, or Thompson’s and his business partner’s connection to a fake donor sting in North Carolina. The people of Georgia deserve some answers.
“Instead of standing for the highest ethical standards, Commissioner Rick Thompson finds himself and his business partner, Jason Boles, linked to questionable practices that have the stink of vote suppression. The investigative reports and subsequent stories tying more Georgia politicians to this scheme are all credible,” said Aunna Dennis, Executive Director of Common Cause Georgia. “Why hasn’t Governor Kemp or the Ethics Commission opened an inquiry to understand exactly what Thompson and Boles are involved with? Georgia’s voters deserve better. We deserve to have confidence that all our Ethics commissioners know their job is to improve the ethical standards for public service, not lower them.”
Last Friday, two separate teams of investigative reporters in North Carolina broke news of attempted infiltration of Common Cause North Carolina and three allies who work in coalition to protect and promote the right to vote of all eligible people. Subsequent reporting by Georgia media followed the money trail from North Carolina through the fake-donor, “James Fortune,” and his “parent” company, Blue Sky Medical Labs, LLC, which is the source of the donations “Fortune” used to ingratiate himself with the groups.
Since that story broke, additional details from Atlanta’s Fox 5 investigative reporter Dale Russell linked Blue Sky, LLC to Stefan Passantino, who is the attorney of record for the company. Passantino worked in the Trump White House as deputy counsel for ethics.
As the Raleigh News & Observer reported last week when breaking the story, the fake donor tried to get the nonprofit, nonpartisan voting rights groups to violate election law and register voters who are not eligible. Each of the organizations made clear they support commonsense election laws and work within them, and made clear they would not break those laws.
“In Georgia, we know a thing or two about voter suppression. And creating chaos – and creating doubt about the integrity of our elections – are both forms of voter suppression,” Dennis said. “Americans deserve to be able to cast our ballots with full confidence that our ballots are going to count. Americans deserve to be able to participate in our democracy without having to wade through all the fictions, dirty tricks and ‘gotchas’ that are being thrown at us these days.”
“We’re not sure whose money is involved in Blue Sky, LLC; but it seems many campaign consultants like them for their ability to handle dark money operations. Who is the client for Mr. Boles and Mr. Thompson and where does the money come from?” she asked.
“North Carolina’s Wake County District Attorney has stated that she is conducting a preliminary review to determine whether a criminal investigation is warranted. But the paper trail leads back here to Georgia, and seems to involve one of our own Ethics commissioners,” she said. “Georgians deserve to have an Ethics Commission that is above reproach. Is the Commission investigating this situation? If not, why not?”
For more background:
Raleigh News & Observer, September 18, 2020
North Carolina Policy Watch, September 18, 2020
Georgia Recorder, September 18, 2020
North Carolina Policy Watch, September 22, 2020
Fox 5 Atlanta, September 23, 2020