Georgia Ethics Committee - Investigate Earl Ehrhart for multiple ethics violations
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My name is Caly Hess, and I began this petition because, as a citizen and activist in Georgia, I am concerned about the safety of other activists in the state.
Georgia HB 51 was an egregious piece of legislation, and sought to protect suspected rapists on college campuses, and endanger young women. The bill’s sponsor, Earl Earhart, claims that young men accused of and being under investigation for rape deserve anonymity, and that having their records released to other colleges they may want to transfer to is a violation of their rights - and that young women have no right to be protected from potential predators or even know if they are in their midst.
As one can imagine, the public outcry was huge and on both sides of the political spectrum. Women all over the state of every political leaning were appalled and protested. Some protesters took their activism to their own representatives and worked with lawmakers directly to prevent HB 51 from being voted in as law.
As public outcry grew, Ehrhart was no longer able to use his position as chair of the Georgia House Appropriations committee to influence other lawmakers. Instead of arguing for why the law would not endanger young women (which of course, it would have), he attacked activists on the floor of the Georgia House of Representatives, insulting and mocking them during hearings.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported that Ehrhart emailed several schools and threatened them with cutting funding if they pursued investigations into accusations of sexual assault, even calling for one dean to be fired for complying with the law.
In one instance, he insisted UGA reopen a closed rape investigation and was on the list of witnesses for the accused, despite having nothing to do with the case. The university dropped the case.
He has bragged that the House committee he chairs is “a macro-aggressive environment”, and has attacked people personally and even referred to grown women as wanting the state to provide pacifiers to them for expecting young college women to be protected by laws on campus. He has been featured on FOX News mocking “liberal snowflakes”, yet what happens to people who insult him and protest his laws? If he goes on the news mocking federal law and protecting rapists, what is he doing when nobody else is looking?
I know two women who are unfortunate enough to know first hand.
Carson Sabir is an author and satirist who protested HB 51. Over the course of her protest she noted that the representative was violating free speech by censoring his public official page of any and all criticism of him or the law. Three days after the protest, the representative had a security guard call her and threaten her. When she knew it was nothing but an attempt to intimidate her and nothing more, she began speaking publicly about this. An hour and a half later Ehrhart had a Georgia State Patrol file an arrest warrant stating that at the very moment Carson was speaking publicly about his intimidating behavior, she was actually contacting the representative at his home via Facebook threatening him
When all of this began, Carson attempted to file an ethics complaint. Initially, House Ethics Committee Chair Randy Nix told her that she could send up a signed and notarized affidavit. She did that and he told her that she would need to come in. Having been intimidated by police and security guards from her local precinct in Bibb County and from the state capital, she told them the name of the first security guard and told them to look into him. At that point she wasn’t sure how much of what was happening was due to Ehrhart’s direct involvement.
For the last year Carson has received threatening phone calls, threatening text messages from untraceable numbers, she has been followed, she is afraid for her physical safety - and she is currently a defendant in two counties for protesting his proposed law, his violating the law, and speaking out when intimidated.
When Carson began receiving threats, she met Amanda Harrell, one of the activists most involved in the fight against HB51 and one of the women Ehrhart insulted during House proceedings. Over the course of the year Carson shared with Amanda the threatening communications she was receiving. On January 17 when Carson received strange text messages from someone claiming to be a detective, she forwarded screen shots to Amanda, who texted the number herself to see if she could get more information. The person responded to Amanda with threats of “exposure” and telling her she was “now a part of this investigation”, but the person never identified themselves fully, provided no badge number, and when Carson and
Amanda contacted the Cobb County Sheriff’s office (the text message had instructed Carson to call the sheriff’s direct line, she and Amanda called dispatch), they were informed that someone was impersonating a police officer and that no detectives were on duty that day as it was a snow day.
The ACLU is finally investigating censorship by politicians on their public profiles, but that is not enough. Ehrhart has gone beyond censorship into abuse of power, intimidation, and perjury.
When a state representative’s actions become so open and normalized that they are reported by the AJC, private citizens are being threatened and intimidated into silence, something needs to be done. Amanda has now attempted to file an ethics complaint on behalf of the citizens of Georgia against Ehrhart, and needs our support.
Please sign this petition to House Ethics Chair Randy Nix to get him to open an investigation into the actions of Georgia State Representative Earl Earhart.
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