FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Jason Shepherd
October 19, 2020 Chair@CobbGOP.org
Cobb GOP Files Ethics Complaints Against Democratic Sheriff Candidates Craig Owens and Jimmy Herndon
Complaints Outline Numerous Violations of the Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Act
(Marietta, GA) – The Cobb County Republican Party filed ethics complaints today with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission against Democratic Sheriff candidates Craig Owens and James “Jimmy” Herndon, alleging multiple violations of Georgia’s Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Act (“Campaign Finance Act”).
The complaint against Owens, the Democratic nominee for Sheriff, highlights numerous violations of the Campaign Finance Act, including failing to disclose thousands of dollars in campaign donations and/or expenditures, failing to file a Personal Financial Disclosure Report as required by law, as well as late filings of his Campaign Finance Reports. The complaint against Herndon, who filed challenges to incumbent Sheriff Neil Warren and his other Democratic opponents to get them thrown off the ballot on technicalities, but lost the Democratic Primary on June 9, highlights his failure to file any Campaign Finance Reports after his April 30 report.
“Craig Owens is asking Cobb voters to elect him to a position to run a 3,500 bed jail in a one million square foot facility with a $95 million annual budget, but he cannot even file a simple campaign finance report correctly,” said Cobb County Republican Party Chairman Jason Shepherd. “How can Cobb County voters entrust him to handle the job of Sheriff when he cannot follow basic campaign finance laws?”
Despite running on a campaign slogan of “Truth, Trust, and Transparency,” Owens’s campaign finance reports show his campaign is anything but transparent. Absent from Owens’s disclosures is the representation of his campaign by Marietta attorney Cindy Yeagar of the Yeagar Law Firm, which represented the Owens campaign in an appeal to the Cobb County Superior Court from the unanimous decision by the Cobb County Board of Elections to remove Owens from the ballot after fellow Democrat James Herndon alleged Owens did not correctly qualify for the Office of Sheriff. The Owens campaign challenged the Board’s decision, and the Cobb County Superior Court reversed the decision of the Board.
The Owens campaign hired three law firms, including the Yeagar Firm, which also appears on Owens’s Campaign Finance Report as providing free office space for the Owens campaign, but Owens’s original April 30, 2020 Campaign Finance Report makes no mention of his legal representation by Yeagar or either of the other two firms that represented him. Four months later, on September 1, Owens filed an amended April Report showing payments of $3,000 and $5,000 to the other two firms, but still nothing regarding the Yeagar Firm, which is listed in Court documents as having filed and participated in the appeal.
“Whether it is an oversight or an intentional omission to hide his legal representation from the voters remains to be seen,” said Shepherd. “However, it is hard to be truthful, trustworthy, and transparent while withholding whether the Yeagar Firm represented the campaign as an in-kind contribution or if he had to pay the law firm like he did the others, or a combination of both.”
However, that is not the only area where the Owens campaign has failed to be transparent. Each candidate for public office is required by law to file a Personal Financial Disclosure Report detailing the candidate’s personal finances and whether the candidate might have a financial conflict of interest the voters need to know about. The Campaign Finance Act requires the Personal Financial Disclosure Report be filed within 15 days of qualifying for the office, which happened back in March. To date, Owens has not filed a Personal Financial Disclosure Report.
“It’s ironic that Craig Owens’s party has been demanding that President Donald Trump disclose his tax returns, which is not required by law, but are silent about Craig Owens failing to file his Personal Financial Disclosure Report, which is required by law, said Shepherd. “Just more Democratic hypocrisy.”
This is not the first time that Craig Owens has come under fire for lack of honesty and transparency. It was a failure to file a required affidavit during qualifying that lead the Cobb County Board of Elections, including the Democratic members of the Board, to unanimously vote to disqualify Owens, but he has also received flak for misusing his military uniform on his campaign pieces, a likely violation of Department of Defense rules and regulations.
According to Department of Defense Directive 1344.10, members of the Armed Forces, including retired members, may NOT, in campaign literature (including Web sites, videos, television, and conventional print advertisements) use or allow the use of photographs, drawings, and other similar media formats of themselves in uniform as the primary graphic representation in any campaign media, such as a billboard, brochure, flyer, Web site, or television commercial. For the purposes of this policy, “photographs” include video images, drawings, and all other similar formats of representational media.
Throughout his campaign, Owens has used photos of himself in uniform as the primary graphic of himself on his partisan campaign mail, his campaign website, and campaign Facebook page.
“Owens owes our men and women in uniform an apology for his misuse of the uniform,” said Shepherd. “It is clear that he either is choosing to ignore the laws regarding his campaign finances and use of his uniform, or is ignorant of the laws, which any good cop will tell you, is no defense.”
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE COMPLAINT AGAINST OWENS: Page 1, Page 2
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD COMPLAINT AGAINST HERNDON: Page 1
CLICK HERE FOR DoD Directive (see page 6)
CLICK HERE FOR EXAMPLE OF OWENS USING HIS UNIFORM FOR PARTISAN CAMPAIGN PURPOSES