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Ben Harbin, Why 2 Different Disclosure Reports FROM THE SAME DAY AND TIME?

 

We hoped to publish our next post on Monday, but at 5:51pm we received the following email that was also sent to WRDW, WAGT, AJC, Metro Spirit, CityStink.net and the Augusta Chronicle.  We are going to highlight in red the really important nuts and bolts things that can land Ben Harbin in some trouble.  We’re cited as a source, and Ben Harbin and the Ethics Commission may have been caught in something.  Read yourself and open the disclosures that were also provided with the email.

Ben Harbin’s Campaign Disclosure Reports

Happy New Year all:
For those who are not familiar with the whole history, I will explain as quickly as possible.
Former Columbia County Commissioner Scott Dean was convicted recently of child molestation.  He had two character witnesses, one being State Representative Ben Harbin.  This perturbed many because given Ben’s history, and, the fact that the developers of the Magnolia Trace project are from Missouri, yet they gave campaign contributions to two Georgia legislators, both of Columbia County, one being Ben Harbin, and the other being Lee Anderson.
For several months many of us have been expressing concern that Ben Harbin’s campaign committee consists of two judges; Bobby Christine and Willie Saunders.  This is typically no big deal, however, quoting from Georgia’s Judicial Qualifications Commission’s web site:
CANON 7
Judges Shall Refrain from Political Activity Inappropriate to Their Judicial Office.
A. Political Conduct in General.
(1) A judge or a candidate* for public election* to judicial office shall not:
(a) act or hold himself or herself out as a leader or hold any office in a political organization*;
(b) make speeches for a political organization or candidate or publicly endorse a candidate for public office;
http://www.gabar.org/handbook/georgia_code_of_judicial_conduct/
Furthermore, Judge Christine made a formal endorsement of Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross during his reelection announcement.  In short, we have judges doing as they please, unchallenged by local media.  While it is certainly true that, “maybe they didn’t know”, I disagree.  How can a judge, any judge, not know his own profession’s canons, of which there are only seven?
Yesterday Bobby Christine announced that he will not run in 2012 http://newstimes.augusta.com/latest-news/2011-12-30/chief-magistrate-said-he-wont-run-again#comment-364 which, in fairness, may very well be related to his statement that he may be deployed next year.  But there are those who speculate that since he socialized quite a bit with Scott Dean and was Ben Harbin’s Chairperson (he even tried to get me to not run against him in the 2008 GOP primary), he is/was afraid of what may surface, especially now that another for months has been planning to challenge him.
In short, that is a short history.  To the present, there is a local anonymous blog that has been online for a year or thereabouts and has been critical of Christine, Harbin, Cross, and even me.  On May 04, 2011 it posted this: https://columbiacountyconservativeviewpoint.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/our-opinion/ and at the end of the story is a copy of Ben Harbin’s Campaign Contribution Disclosure Report submitted on “1/7/11  6:23 pm” for the reporting period ending December 31, 2011.  How can this be?  How can you submit something on 1/7/11 for something that ends 12/31/11?  Again, click the link and view the report.  Now, this very moment, if you were to go to the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission’s disclosure website, you will see a report dated “1/7/11  6:23 pm” for the reporting period ending “December 31, 2010”.  There is no amendment filed.  How can the dates change without an amendment?  More important, on the report posted by the blog in May (page 1 of the attachment), the campaign committee is reported as being “Chairperson:  Bobby L. Christine  Treasurer:  Willie M. Saunders”.  On the report accessed today (page 2 of the attachment) and with the same “E-filed on” date of “1/7/11  6:23 pm”, the campaign committee reads “Chairperson:  William Byrd Lee IV  Treasurer: Elizabeth Barton”.  How can this be?  Two different reports submitted during the same minute of recorded time?
The attachment contains nine pages, the front page of nine different disclosures with eight different report dates and times.  The committee consists of Christine and Saunders on the reports filed 10/7/10, 9/6/10, 5/10/10, 4/3/10, 1/8/09, and 1/7/11.  The committee is listed as Lee and Barton on the reports filed on 1/6/10 and 1/7/11.  It appears as though someone is going back and altering official reports by removing the names of judges and replacing them with the names of those who are not judges in order to “erase” evidence of judicial wrong doings.  However, I can only offer evidence that the 1/7/11 report was altered and not the 1/6/10 report.  But you can see that the team of Christine and Saunders was in place well before and after “1/6/10”.
Do with this what you will.  It may be nothing, but I doubt that very…very, much.  Thank you all for your time and have a safe and prosperous 2012!
####################
WHOA!  We posted our story in May with Harbin’s disclosure.  Now it’s been altered.  Why the discrepancy?  Why are Christine/Saunders listed on some and Lee/Barton listed on some?  We think that Ben Harbin and someone at the Ethics Commission is altering his old disclosure reports so that there is no trace of Bobby Christine or Willie Saunders.  Look back at what the email says near the end, “However, I can only offer evidence that the 1/7/11 report was altered and not the 1/6/10 report.  But you can see that the team of Christine and Saunders was in place well before and after “1/6/10”.
We’ll look into this some more, but it would be great if you would submit a complaint to the Ethics Commission and let them look into this because something sure is smelling bad.
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