Home / News / Outgoing Establishment Republicans Make Unlawful Run to Control Forsyth County Election Board, Commissioners Do Nothing

Outgoing Establishment Republicans Make Unlawful Run to Control Forsyth County Election Board, Commissioners Do Nothing


If interlopers control county election boards, they can quash all efforts to restore election integrity

AUG 16, 2023

You might recall my June 30 Sub­stack enti­tled, “Kem­p’s Pri­vate Polit­i­cal Par­ty Makes Its First Move-The back­sto­ry to under­stand these events.” In that arti­cle I observed that the Repub­li­can estab­lish­ment has been steadi­ly los­ing favor with authen­tic con­ser­v­a­tive Geor­gia Repub­li­can vot­ers. As a result, in coun­ty after coun­ty the Repub­li­can estab­lish­ment has been los­ing seats and influ­ence on local GOP com­mit­tees, hand­ing pow­er over to Trump-sup­port­ing, MAGA-aligned Repub­li­cans. See­ing his own strength in the Repub­li­can Par­ty dimin­ish­ing, Gov­er­nor Bri­an Kemp has tak­en steps to shore up a base of polit­i­cal and finan­cial sup­port using unortho­dox, pro­pri­etary meth­ods. Those meth­ods include legal­iz­ing pri­vate polit­i­cal cor­po­ra­tions with abil­i­ties to make unlim­it­ed cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions to statewide office hold­ers, while also pro­vid­ing oth­er polit­i­cal ser­vices with­in the coun­ties, such as work­ing to main­tain con­trol over valu­able coun­ty elec­tion board appoint­ments. In the last para­graph of my Sub­stack I summed it up this way, 

“Thus, we see in these events the begin­ning of a pat­tern, in which forces back­ing Geor­gia Gov­er­nor Bri­an Kemp are effec­tive­ly attempt­ing a pri­vate takeover of the Geor­gia Repub­li­can Par­ty. That takeover is appar­ent­ly being accom­plished through increas­ing­ly con­trol­ling the Repub­li­can rep­re­sen­ta­tion nor­mal­ly present with­in the mem­bers con­sti­tut­ing coun­ty elec­tion boards…So, even though the appar­ent make-up of the Geor­gia Repub­li­can Par­ty, includ­ing an over­whelm­ing num­ber of coun­ty GOP’s, has become decid­ed­ly “Trumpian” and “Amer­i­ca First,” estab­lish­ment Repub­li­cans, led by Kemp, are mak­ing a play to “wag the dog,” exert­ing polit­i­cal influ­ence at the coun­ty lev­el to place their own peo­ple onto elec­tion boards where vital deci­sions, such as whether to resist using Domin­ion vot­ing machines, would be made.”

Ful­ton and Chero­kee were the first two coun­ties in which this polit­i­cal chi­canery, a tac­tic of grab­bing hold of elec­tion board seats by the out­go­ing estab­lish­ment, has been used successfully. 

Thanks for read­ing Hank’s Sub­stack! Sub­scribe for free to receive new posts and sup­port my work. 

But since writ­ing that piece, it has come to my atten­tion cer­tain events relat­ed to a coun­ty board of reg­is­tra­tions and elec­tions (BRE) vacan­cy being filled in my own home coun­ty of Forsyth, for the term begin­ning Sep­tem­ber 1, 2023.  Con­cern­ing that vacan­cy, the fol­low­ing facts are undisputed: 

1.      The 4‑year term of ser­vice of Board of Elec­tions mem­ber, Joel E. Natt, expires August 31, 2023. 

2.      Forsyth Coun­ty Code, Arti­cle III, Sec­tion 2(b)(2), which mir­rors Geor­gia Law, pro­vides a manda­to­ry legal process for appoint­ing a mem­ber to the Board of Elections. 

3.      Accord­ing to that code sec­tion, “A polit­i­cal par­ty appoint­ment for mem­ber­ship on the board shall be made by the chair­per­son of the coun­ty exec­u­tive com­mit­tee of the polit­i­cal par­ty nom­i­nat­ing a qual­i­fied can­di­date and the can­di­date’s nom­i­na­tion being rat­i­fied by a major­i­ty of the mem­bers of the coun­ty exec­u­tive com­mit­tee vot­ing at a reg­u­lar­ly sched­uled meet­ing of the coun­ty exec­u­tive com­mit­tee or a meet­ing duly called and held for such purpose.”

4.      On or about Novem­ber 22, 2022, less than three months pri­or to the end of its term of office, the Forsyth Coun­ty Repub­li­can Par­ty Exec­u­tive Com­mit­tee met via Zoom to dis­cuss var­i­ous agen­da items.  One item turned out to be the par­ty nom­i­na­tion of a can­di­date to serve as a Forsyth Coun­ty BRE mem­ber for a new 4‑year term com­menc­ing Sep­tem­ber 1, 2023, the out­go­ing coun­ty GOP chair­man mak­ing a grab for that open seat a full nine months into the future.  Dur­ing that con­fer­ence, Coun­ty GOP Chair­man Jer­ry Marinich pur­port­ed­ly informed the mem­bers of the com­mit­tee that he would nom­i­nate present BRE vice-chair­man Joel Natt to suc­ceed him­self at the expi­ra­tion of his present term, again, nine months hence, a term which would not begin until six months after the end of Marinich’s own term as coun­ty GOP chair. That action, the effect of which would pre­vent the incom­ing exec­u­tive board from select­ing a BRE mem­ber more in keep­ing with pre­vail­ing GOP atti­tudes, is the same kind of polit­i­cal chi­canery we have recent­ly seen in our neigh­bor­ing coun­ties.  Like­ly not hav­ing the votes to rat­i­fy his choice for the BRE, those attend­ing the meet­ing advise that the GOP chair­man claimed all author­i­ty nec­es­sary to nom­i­nate the new BRE can­di­date him­self, alleg­ing it was his deci­sion alone to make, in his capac­i­ty as coun­ty par­ty chair­per­son.  Accord­ing to cer­tain of those present, the chair­man took no nom­i­na­tions for the posi­tion, nei­ther ask­ing for nor receiv­ing a sec­ond for his nom­i­nee, took no vote, and there­by received no rat­i­fi­ca­tion by a major­i­ty of the mem­bers of the coun­ty exec­u­tive com­mit­tee, as the Forsyth Coun­ty ordi­nance and Geor­gia law require. 

5.      The GOP Chair­man soon advised Forsyth Coun­ty out­side Attor­ney, Ken Jar­rard, of the name he appar­ent­ly per­son­al­ly and uni­lat­er­al­ly nom­i­nat­ed for the Coun­ty Com­mis­sion to appoint to fill the expir­ing BRE slot to begin Sep­tem­ber 1, his nom­i­nee being Joel Natt. 

Obtained via open records request

6.      On Feb­ru­ary 2, 2023, dur­ing a reg­u­lar meet­ing of the Forsyth Coun­ty Board of Com­mis­sion­ers, Attor­ney Jar­rard pre­sent­ed the name giv­en him by the GOP chair­man for appoint­ment to the elec­tions board.  Based upon the infor­ma­tion they received from Mr. Jar­rard, the com­mis­sion­ers con­sid­ered the name of Joel Natt, and although the term of office would not com­mence for anoth­er 6 months, the com­mis­sion­ers rub­ber-stamped the Natt nom­i­na­tion, unan­i­mous­ly appoint­ing him to serve a new 4‑year term, suc­ceed­ing him­self in that posi­tion on Sep­tem­ber 1 of this year. 

Unbe­known, at least to sev­er­al mem­bers of the Forsyth Coun­ty GOP Exec­u­tive Com­mit­tee present dur­ing the Zoom con­fer­ence last Novem­ber, the GOP chair actu­al­ly had no law­ful pow­er to per­son­al­ly and uni­lat­er­al­ly nom­i­nate the next BRE mem­ber to the board of com­mis­sion­ers. He had only the pow­er to sug­gest a nom­i­nee to the exec­u­tive com­mit­tee, who, accord­ing to state law and an iden­ti­cal coun­ty ordi­nance, would have to rat­i­fy his selec­tion pri­or to it being pre­sent­ed to the Forsyth Coun­ty Com­mis­sion for final appoint­ment. And so, just as it hap­pened in Ful­ton and Chero­kee Coun­ties, it appears cer­tain indi­vid­u­als with­in the estab­lish­ment wing of the Repub­li­can Par­ty have tak­en steps to thwart the will of a coun­ty Repub­li­can Par­ty, the lat­est vic­tim being Forsyth, and place an estab­lish­ment favorite, Mr. Natt, on the coun­ty elec­tion board. 

Is there wrong-doing here?

As of this point in the nar­ra­tive, I con­sid­ered no one on the Forsyth Coun­ty Com­mis­sion, nor its out­side coun­sel, to have act­ed out­side of his or her prop­er role or author­i­ty in the law­ful, legal process of appoint­ing a mem­ber to the coun­ty BRE.  It seemed to me that, although cit­i­zens might expect their coun­ty com­mis­sion to at least ask a ques­tion or two con­cern­ing an impor­tant board nom­i­na­tion such as this, espe­cial­ly for a board posi­tion that far into the future, facts not revealed to them on Feb­ru­ary 2, 2023 cer­tain­ly couldn’t be held against them…or could they? As you will learn below, it turns out I was wrong to assume the Forsyth Coun­ty Com­mis­sion had no cul­pa­bil­i­ty in this appar­ent unlaw­ful set of events. 

Forsyth GOP gives notice to commissioners of non-compliance with the law

Dur­ing the third week in May, almost three months ago, well with­in the time frames of the applic­a­ble statute ref­er­enced above, new­ly-elect­ed Forsyth Coun­ty GOP Chair­per­son, Mendy Moore, rep­re­sent­ing the recent­ly-elect­ed GOP Exec­u­tive Com­mit­tee and com­mit­tee at-large, informed the Forsyth Coun­ty Com­mis­sion, via Attor­ney Jar­rard, that a non-legal process, evad­ing the law, had been fol­lowed in Novem­ber result­ing in an unlaw­ful nom­i­na­tion of Mr. Natt to the BRE. That rev­e­la­tion brought with it an entire­ly new set of prin­ci­ples, both legal and eth­i­cal, for the Forsyth BOC to con­sid­er and untan­gle, which, rea­son­ably, it would have to do with­out delay, to remain in com­pli­ance with the legal appoint­ment process to which all of these play­ers are bound, out­lined with­in the Forsyth Coun­ty Code and Geor­gia law cit­ed above and below. 

Obtained via open records request
Obtained via open records request

Possible ethics violations

Regard­ing coun­ty ethics rules, accord­ing to Forsyth Coun­ty Ordi­nance Sec. 2–64, enti­tled, “Code of ethics for mem­bers of boards, com­mis­sions, author­i­ties, elect­ed offi­cials, and coun­ty depart­ment heads,” 

(b)Any mem­ber of a coun­ty board, com­mis­sion, or author­i­ty, and elect­ed offi­cials and coun­ty depart­ment heads shall: (1) Uphold the Con­sti­tu­tion, laws, and reg­u­la­tions of the Unit­ed States, the state, the coun­ty, and all gov­ern­ments there­in and nev­er be a par­ty to their eva­sion.”

Thus, Forsyth Coun­ty Ethics Rules do not allow mem­bers of the board of com­mis­sion­ers to become involved in evad­ing the law, in any way, with­out each of those involved becom­ing a par­ty to the law’s eva­sion, in so doing com­mit­ting pos­si­ble ethics vio­la­tions. If the nom­i­na­tion process evades the law, and the com­mis­sion­ers know­ing­ly allow it, they evade the law as well. 

Fur­ther­more, regard­ing poten­tial actions of the county’s out­side coun­sel, State Bar of Geor­gia Code of Con­duct, specif­i­cal­ly, Chap­ter 1 under Ethics and Dis­ci­pline, rule 4 under “A Lawyer’s Respon­si­bil­i­ties,” requires that,it is also a lawyer’s duty to uphold legal process.”

Uphold­ing legal process is impor­tant because doing so aids in man­i­fest­ing an equi­table out­come with respect to the intent of the law. Evad­ing legal process would have an oppo­site effect. Accord­ing to the Geor­gia Bar Asso­ci­a­tion, attor­neys are not allowed to know­ing­ly bypass legal process, such as, for exam­ple, the legal process involved in nom­i­nat­ing and appoint­ing a BRE mem­ber. Thus, if the legal process involv­ing a board nom­i­na­tion evades the law, and if the attor­ney guid­ing the coun­ty com­mis­sion­ers respon­si­ble for appoint­ing these mem­bers know­ing­ly ignores that fact, thus fail­ing to uphold legal process, that attor­ney could also be in vio­la­tion of state bar ethics rules. 

There­fore, upon receiv­ing reli­able infor­ma­tion that Mr. Natt’s nom­i­na­tion for the Forsyth Coun­ty BRE was unlaw­ful, based upon the fail­ure of the pre­vi­ous coun­ty GOP chair to adhere to “legal process” out­lined in the Forsyth Coun­ty Code and Geor­gia law, accord­ing to the State Bar of Geor­gia rules, a case could be made that Forsyth County’s out­side coun­sel would pos­sess an inher­ent duty to uphold the legal process evad­ed by the GOP Chair­man in Novem­ber.  Accord­ing­ly, should non-com­pli­ance with the legal process be ver­i­fied, the attorney’s eth­i­cal duty would neces­si­tate noti­fy­ing the com­mis­sion mem­bers that Mr. Natt’s nom­i­na­tion evad­ed the law, was there­fore unlaw­ful on its face and should be nullified. 

As time is of the essence, once sat­is­fied with the prospect that new infor­ma­tion com­ing from Ms. Moore was truth­ful, from all appear­ances coun­ty attor­ney Jar­rard became oblig­at­ed by statewide eth­i­cal stan­dards to advise the com­mis­sion that the legal process was indeed not upheld, and that the board should act to offi­cial­ly void the appoint­ment of Mr. Natt with­out delay, and await a new nom­i­na­tion from coun­ty GOP chair Moore. Accord­ing to Ms. Moore’s let­ter, she would ensure the nom­i­nat­ing process be in keep­ing with the law, adher­ing to all manda­to­ry legal process.  Thus, a case can be made that, accord­ing to the Geor­gia Bar, should the county’s out­side coun­sel pro­vide guid­ance to the Forsyth Coun­ty Board of Com­mis­sion­ers, to know­ing­ly accept an unlaw­ful­ly-nom­i­nat­ed can­di­date to take posi­tion as a board mem­ber of the BRE, that advice could eas­i­ly be inter­pret­ed as a vio­la­tion of an inher­ent eth­i­cal respon­si­bil­i­ty of any Geor­gia lawyer, sub­ject­ing such an attor­ney to pos­si­ble ethics delib­er­a­tions as well. 

Oh, But, Not So Fast!

Last month, accord­ing to Forsyth Com­mis­sion­er Alfred Johns, speak­ing with me direct­ly, coun­ty Attor­ney Ken Jar­rard has “pro­vid­ed guid­ance” to the com­mis­sion mem­bers that the ques­tion whether the nom­i­na­tion by the now ex-GOP chair­man was derived unlaw­ful­ly, “is not com­plete­ly clear.” 

Thus, as I write this col­umn in mid-August, two weeks before the new four year BRE term begins, there exist two claims over the right to nom­i­nate the next Forsyth Coun­ty BRE mem­ber, one by the for­mer GOP Chair­man Marinich, out of office since March, hav­ing report­ed­ly received no rat­i­fi­ca­tion by the exec­u­tive com­mit­tee, and uni­lat­er­al­ly declar­ing his nom­i­na­tion to the com­mis­sion­ers nine months in advance of the begin­ning if the next term, ver­sus the oth­er by the active chair­per­son Moore, her nom­i­na­tion rat­i­fied as the law requires, in ample time to make the appoint­ment accord­ing to the above statute. 


Still, at this time the coun­ty attor­ney con­tin­ues to “pro­vide guid­ance” to the com­mis­sion that it “is not com­plete­ly clear” who is right. Per­haps from the coun­ty attorney’s per­spec­tive, the ques­tion whether the orig­i­nal nom­i­na­tion was law­ful is a gen­uine con­cern. I will give him that. But if his con­cern were gen­uine, there would be ways to dis­cov­er who is right and who is wrong accord­ing to the law. He could sim­ply con­vene and ask the ques­tion of those who took part in the Novem­ber Zoom meet­ing whether the pro­vi­sions of law were fol­lowed. Why hasn’t that hap­pened? Well, accord­ing to sev­er­al com­mis­sion­ers, speak­ing direct­ly to me, they feel it is sim­ply not their job to cer­ti­fy the work of the Forsyth GOP. Accord­ing to those com­mis­sion­ers, it’s sole­ly the GOP’s job. But is that real­ly the case? 

So, who’s Job is it really to certify legal process is followed in appointing BRE members?

As it turns out, I was mis­tak­en expect­ing that the Forsyth Coun­ty Com­mis­sion could plead blame­less in this elec­tion board appoint­ment fias­co, as are those board mem­bers who so con­tend. The Forsyth Code of Ordi­nances makes it clear that the Board of Com­mis­sion­ers bears a sub­stan­tial bur­den to exer­cise due dili­gence pri­or to cer­ti­fy­ing any appoint­ment to the BRE. Accord­ing to the Forsyth Coun­ty Code of Ordi­nances, Sec­tion 4, rather than rub­ber-stamp­ing any name the coun­ty attor­ney presents to the board of com­mis­sion­ers, as was done in Feb­ru­ary with the name of Mr. Natt, that body is required to actu­al­ly per­form some work. That is because the law requires the board of com­mis­sion­ers to CERTIFY the polit­i­cal par­ty mak­ing a nom­i­na­tion fol­lowed all the rules pro­vid­ed in the law. The law does not allow the com­mis­sion­ers to sim­ply assume all legal process­es have been fol­lowed when a nom­i­na­tion is read aloud by the coun­ty attor­ney dur­ing a meet­ing of the board: 

Sec­tion 4. — Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of appointments.

(a) The appoint­ment of each mem­ber shall be made by the coun­ty gov­ern­ing author­i­ty fil­ing an affi­davit with the clerk of the supe­ri­or court, no lat­er than 30 days pre­ced­ing the date at which such mem­ber is to take office, stat­ing the name and res­i­dence address of the per­son appoint­ed and cer­ti­fy­ing that such mem­ber has been duly appoint­ed AS PROVIDED IN THIS ACT.

Cer­ti­fy­ing a nom­i­nee to the board of elec­tions would not be a dif­fi­cult or time-con­sum­ing activ­i­ty for the coun­ty com­mis­sion to under­take. Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of a nom­i­nee could be done by a polit­i­cal par­ty in ques­tion sup­ply­ing a duly-enact­ed res­o­lu­tion empow­er­ing its exec­u­tive board mem­bers to act accord­ing to the law­ful pro­vi­sions afford­ed it, embossed with the party’s offi­cial stamp, along with an accom­pa­ny­ing let­ter, signed by the chair­per­son and a major­i­ty of the exec­u­tive board mem­bers vot­ing in the affir­ma­tive for the nom­i­nee, their sig­na­tures duly nota­rized. That’s all it would take for the Forsyth Coun­ty Board of Com­mis­sion­ers to com­ply with its own elec­tion board appoint­ment ordi­nance. But that body wants us to believe oper­at­ing in com­pli­ance with their own ordi­nance would not only be dif­fi­cult, but also an exer­cise in gov­ern­ment overreach. 

Forsyth County Commissioners refuse to answer

I have con­veyed this infor­ma­tion, and more, in writ­ing, to each Forsyth Coun­ty Com­mis­sion­er. Fur­ther­more, I have spo­ken per­son­al­ly with each mem­ber of the com­mis­sion, some more than once. As you will hear in the video below, Com­mis­sion Chair Alfred Johns would only say that the board is being guid­ed by coun­ty attor­ney Ken Jar­rard. No mat­ter how I phrased my ques­tions to the chair­man, that they are being guid­ed by the coun­ty attor­ney would be his only answer, appar­ent­ly care­ful not to say any­thing Mr. Jar­rard had not pre-screened. Con­ver­sa­tions like this beg the ques­tion, whether Forsyth Coun­ty is being man­aged by elect­ed board mem­bers, or by an unelect­ed coun­ty attorney. 

Sub­se­quent­ly, I addressed the com­mis­sion­ers direct­ly at the August 3rd meet­ing (start video at 5 min:10 sec) allow­ing pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion. After that meet­ing, Com­mis­sion­er Cindy Jones would only say to me that coun­ty attor­ney Ken Jar­rard doesn’t agree with me, and, sim­i­lar to my con­ver­sa­tion with Chair­man Johns, she was care­ful not to say much of any­thing else. But I will give Com­mis­sion­er Jones cred­it. Very thank­ful­ly, Ms. Jones offered that she asked Mr. Jar­rard to answer my con­cerns in writ­ing, a request to which, accord­ing to Ms. Jones, Mr. Jar­rard respond­ed he would do if direct­ed by the board. 

I have also heard from Com­mis­sion­er Todd Lev­ent, who like Ms. Jones, has also request­ed my con­cerns be answered by Attor­ney Jarrard. 

The oth­er three com­mis­sion­ers, Johns, Seman­son and Hill appear stonewalling against answer­ing legit­i­mate con­cerns, but why? Why would our elect­ed board of com­mis­sion­ers care whether a cit­i­zen receives an answer to his ques­tions? Is there some man behind the cur­tain pulling the levers of Forsyth Coun­ty Gov­ern­ment? Are these indi­vid­u­als work­ing to pro­tect a ques­tion­ably-law­ful BRE appoint­ment? Are they just plain stub­born? I con­fess, I do not know. But I will say this, I do not like it when the com­mis­sion­ers Forsyth Coun­ty vot­ers elect to run their gov­ern­ment are afraid to speak open­ly, with­out legal fil­tra­tion, to the vot­ing pub­lic, feel­ing the need to appeal to their attor­ney, who they will not autho­rize to speak either. 

So this is where we are, two weeks before Mr. Joel Natt strolls into his 4‑year appoint­ment on the Forsyth Coun­ty Board of Elec­tions. If noth­ing more hap­pens in all of this, the seat will be his. 

That begs the ques­tion, what would be so awful were Mr. Natt, inci­den­tal­ly now find­ing sup­port from the Forsyth Coun­ty Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty, to take his seat for the next four years on the Forsyth Coun­ty Board of Reg­is­tra­tions and Elec­tions? The sev­er­al answers to that ques­tion will be the sub­ject of my next Sub­stack, one you will not want to miss. 


  1. I learned about voiceofruralamerica.com from Steve Ban­non on the War Room today. I live in Flori­da. Is there any­thing out of staters can do to help? Thank you for mak­ing this issue easy to under­stand, there is a lot to it. Keep up the good work. Thank you for being a true journalist!

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