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On Saturday March 10th, in Athens, GA, the democratic process was trampled on. The Athens-Clarke county GOP met to hold their annual county convention. The convention was held to nominate, approve, and pass slates of delegates to the party’s district and state conventions. County chairman Matt Brewster and nominating committee chairman John Elliot blatantly broke the rules of their own party when they improperly, and without a majority, passed delegate slates and adjourned the convention amidst cries for “division”, which is a call for a standing head count. With that, many sitting precinct delegates were disenfranchised, and the convention was improperly closed. When warned that their conduct was jeopardizing the status of the delegates and alternates for the entire county, the chair Matt Brewster directed all questions to John Padgett, who was identified by Brewster as the Secretary of the Georgia State Republican Party. Unfortunately, Mr. Padgett refused to answer questions and fled the scene along with the rest of the local GOP leadership.
Apparently, this is not the first time that the Georgia GOP has alienated Ron Paul supporters. In a March 2011 speech given by Sue Everhart, Chairwoman of the Georgia State GOP, she apologizes to Ron Paul supporters for “shoddy treatment” in 2008. She also admits that pressure from an outside source was the reason that Ron Paul supporters were mistreated. During the same speech, Everhart holds up a copy of the Georgia Republican Party Rules, vowing that such treatment will not happen in the future.
Many of the precinct delegates, who were elected in February at the county’s mass precinct meetings, were new to the process and were appalled by the conduct they witnessed. Delegate Gary J. Warenfelt of 5C said, “This is the first time I have ever been actively involved in politics and to see illegal actions taking place in a major U.S. political party is very saddening. They cherry-picked the delegates that they wanted to go to the district and state conventions without following party rules. They did not listen to any voice of opposition and ended the meeting illegally.” Fellow delegate Shawn Lewis added, “I personally called for a count of the votes of the ayes versus the nays, and was refused. I was told that the convention was closed, and watched as everyone just up and fled from the scene. I was ignored by the state GOP secretary after we were told that he would answer questions. I’m thoroughly disgusted; this is my first time participating in the process, and I feel violated.”