Home / Opinion / My Letter to Forsyth County Commissioners Formally Requesting a Written Response

My Letter to Forsyth County Commissioners Formally Requesting a Written Response


AUG 17 

Two weeks and count­ing, no response 

Yes­ter­day I pub­lished a Sub­stack out­lin­ing the facts, eth­i­cal prin­ci­ples and the law per­tain­ing to an appar­ent unlaw­ful Feb­ru­ary appoint­ment by the Board of Com­mis­sion­ers to the Forsyth Coun­ty Reg­is­tra­tions and Elec­tion Board (BRE). As I indi­cat­ed in that piece, in weeks past I have con­veyed all of the infor­ma­tion con­tained to each of the five coun­ty com­mis­sion­ers. I have spo­ken with each com­mis­sion­er con­cern­ing this infor­ma­tion. I have for­mal­ly addressed the com­mis­sion dur­ing pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion. Receiv­ing no answer, on August 3rd I wrote each an email for­mal­ly request­ing a writ­ten response. In the inter­im, I thank­ful­ly received com­mu­ni­ca­tion from two com­mis­sion­ers, Cindy Jones Mills and Todd Lev­ent, that they have asked the remain­ing three to direct coun­ty attor­ney Ken Jar­rad to issue a writ­ten response. Evi­dent­ly, it would take at least one of the remain­ing three to form a major­i­ty to direct Mr. Jar­rard in that respect. I do not nec­es­sar­i­ly believe the mem­bers of the Forsyth Coun­ty Com­mis­sion con­stant­ly stand over the work of their attor­ney, vot­ing on each next work he under­takes, but that is what I am hear­ing from them. I con­tin­ue to receive noth­ing back. 

So this morn­ing I pub­lish my let­ter to the mem­bers of the com­mis­sion request­ing a for­mal writ­ten response to my con­cerns. As you will read, in this let­ter I pre­emp­tive­ly answer the argu­ments I have already heard from var­i­ous com­mis­sion­ers, sus­pect­ing that these argu­ments actu­al­ly orig­i­nat­ed with the coun­ty attor­ney. It remains to be deter­mined whether the Board of Com­mis­sion­ers will answer this vot­ing cit­i­zen of Forsyth Coun­ty who has voiced legit­i­mate con­cerns about what he sees as a griev­ous error the man­ner in which it has con­duct­ed the appoint­ment of the next mem­ber of the Forsyth Coun­ty BRE. 

August 3, 2023, 10:10 PM 

Dear Board of Commissioners, 

This is a request to receive a writ­ten response to my email from ear­li­er today, cit­ing the pro­vi­sions of Forsyth Coun­ty Code of Ordi­nances, Arti­cle III, Sec­tions 2 and 4. Sec­tion 4 clear­ly states that the Board of Com­mis­sion­ers must CERTIFY to the clerk of supe­ri­or court that a mem­ber to the coun­ty board of elec­tions has been appoint­ed as pro­vid­ed in the act. Sec­tion 4 does not say the board of com­mis­sion­ers has to cer­ti­fy only cer­tain pro­vi­sions of the act under its direct con­trol. It says the board must cer­ti­fy regard­ing ALL of the pro­vi­sions of the act, nec­es­sar­i­ly imply­ing that before the board of com­mis­sion­ers can vote on such a nom­i­nee, and cer­tain­ly before cer­ti­fy­ing the appoint­ment to the clerk of supe­ri­or court, that board must per­form ade­quate due dili­gence. The pro­vi­sions of the act in ques­tion are clear­ly writ­ten into Arti­cle III, Sec­tion 2. 

Forsyth Coun­ty Ordi­nance con­cern­ing the appoint­ment of BRE members 

From what I have heard from sev­er­al com­mis­sion­ers, com­mon prac­tice in the past has been for polit­i­cal par­ties nom­i­nat­ing a mem­ber to the BRE, and for the board of com­mis­sion­ers them­selves, to ignore those pro­vi­sions alto­geth­er, thus cus­tom­ar­i­ly ‘rub­ber-stamp­ing’ these appoint­ments when­ev­er they have been nom­i­nat­ed. I did not say that. That is what you told me. Thus, some­how cus­tom­ar­i­ly ignor­ing the law in the past has opened the door for the com­mis­sion­ers to ignore it now. Hear­ing from sev­er­al of you, I under­stand that coun­ty attor­ney Ken Jar­rard is advis­ing board mem­bers that what these pro­vi­sions lit­er­al­ly say is not nec­es­sar­i­ly what they mean, one com­mis­sion­er last week telling me in answer to a sim­ple ques­tion, that the board is rely­ing on “guid­ance” from the coun­ty attor­ney, and the coun­ty attor­ney has told them the mean­ing of these pro­vi­sions “is not clear.” Obvi­ous­ly, I dis­agree. A 3rd grad­er can under­stand what these pro­vi­sions mean. 

And I pre­sume it will be Attor­ney Ken Jar­rard answer­ing my request, if direct­ed by the board. I would just point out to each of you that, if what I am hear­ing is true about rub­ber-stamp­ing appoint­ments in the past, the board there­fore con­sis­tent­ly ignor­ing the law as writ­ten, Attor­ney Ken Jar­rard has been play­ing his own part in ignor­ing the law all this time. And I will add, Attor­ney Ken Jar­rard is the one lead­ing this board into poten­tial hot water with the peo­ple they rep­re­sent in Forsyth Coun­ty, appar­ent­ly por­tray­ing to the board that ignor­ing the law, as writ­ten, is OK because that’s how these appoint­ments have always been done. If I were you, I would not want to be count­ing on that as a defense. 

Anoth­er thing I heard from com­mis­sion­ers today is the notion that a polit­i­cal par­ty is some­how a, “pri­vate orga­ni­za­tion,” and as such, the gov­ern­ment in the per­son of the coun­ty com­mis­sion should not thrust itself on its inter­nal activ­i­ties. Because I have now heard that mantra from three of five com­mis­sion­ers, inde­pen­dent of each oth­er, and because it is so bizarre, I rea­son it could only have come to them from the same ques­tion­able source, who I sus­pect would again be Attor­ney Ken Jar­rard. So before Mr. Jar­rard goes there in his response, every­one should know that polit­i­cal par­ties vary from pri­vate orga­ni­za­tions, and for that mat­ter, pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tions, in numer­ous over­rid­ing, defin­ing ways. For exam­ple, a polit­i­cal par­ty is open to any­one who walks in the door. That’s all any­one has to do to join, just walk in. They can­not be turned away. A pri­vate orga­ni­za­tion does not have to accept any­one who does not meet its stat­ed require­ments. Fur­ther­more, polit­i­cal par­ties are reg­u­lat­ed by a body of law inde­pen­dent of any pri­vate orga­ni­za­tion to which you might imag­ine. That body of law is writ­ten sole­ly to gov­ern polit­i­cal par­ties. And where­as pri­vate orga­ni­za­tions are free to abide by their own rules, inde­pen­dent of any oth­er pri­vate orga­ni­za­tion, all polit­i­cal par­ties must abide by the same body of rules their rivals abide by. And those rules are laws of the state and laws of the nation, not mere by-laws. 

But final­ly, pri­vate orga­ni­za­tions have no direct role in gov­ern­ing the peo­ple under a repub­li­can form of gov­ern­ment, guar­an­teed to us all in Arti­cle IV, Sec­tion 4 of the US Con­sti­tu­tion. And that roll in gov­ern­ing the repub­lic, in all of its mul­ti­plic­i­tous juris­dic­tions, is the only rea­son for polit­i­cal par­ties to exist. So this idea that polit­i­cal par­ties are mere­ly “pri­vate orga­ni­za­tions” so the coun­ty com­mis­sion should leave them to their own meth­ods, REGARDLESS OF WHAT THE WRITTEN LAW SAYS, is utter non­sense. And because the board seat we are dis­cussing hap­pens to be for the board of elec­tions, the only pur­pose of which is to ful­fill the require­ments of Arti­cle IV, Sec­tion 4, abid­ing by the laws per­tain­ing to those par­tic­u­lar appoint­ments is of para­mount impor­tance. With­out abid­ing by those very laws, we have no repub­lic! Either we are a nation of laws or we are not. Either words mean things or they do not. And regret­tably, what I here you telling me about Attor­ney Ken Jar­rard is that he appears not to believe either, which indi­cates the like­li­hood that he is oper­at­ing under pur­pos­es that do not nec­es­sar­i­ly coin­cide with the pur­pos­es and will of the peo­ple of Forsyth County. 

So, right now, regret­tably, we have at least three coun­ty com­mis­sion­ers who have demon­strat­ed appre­hen­sion in con­duct­ing a mean­ing­ful con­ver­sa­tion with me on the sub­ject of this appoint­ment. Two have spo­ken open­ly and direct­ly, which I great­ly respect, even if we do not agree. The appre­hen­sion of the first three appears to be root­ed in the prospect that they may say some­thing oth­er than what Attor­ney Ken Jar­rard wants pub­licly pro­nounced. When the peo­ple have com­mis­sion­ers who fear speak­ing their minds, and defer so heav­i­ly to a coun­ty attor­ney, that indi­cates to me we need both new coun­ty com­mis­sion­ers, AND a new coun­ty attor­ney. From where this 39 year tax­pay­er of Forsyth Coun­ty stands, it appears very much as if our coun­ty attor­ney is run­ning our coun­ty. That is not a good thing. 

So I will be await­ing a writ­ten response to my ear­li­er email, tak­ing into account the thoughts I have sent along here. 

Thank You very much, 

Hank Sul­li­van

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