The Union Recorder

September 12, 2013

Mullins re-election qualification challenged

Kyle Collins
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — A formal petition against Milledgeville City Council District 5 incumbent Richard “Boo” Mullins Jr.’s re-election bid was filed Tuesday with Municipal Elections Superintendent Patti Rushin.

Pamela K. Beer, one of two qualified District 5 Council hopefuls running for the occupied seat, submitted a letter and documentation detailing her issue with Mullins’ qualification for another term. 

“Richard Mullins Jr., a candidate for re-election in the November 2013 Municipal Election in the City of Milledgeville, has committed election fraud and was sentenced as a result, and therefore is not qualified to seek re-election,” Beer said in her letter.

Rushin prepared Mullins' official notice of challenge.

“Because of the hour I received it (Tuesday), I was not able to get it to him, but I have prepared it and in it the notice lays out the charges Mrs. Beer presented to me in her challenge,” Rushin said. “I’ve tentatively set a hearing date of Monday, Sept. 23 at 10 a.m. in (City Hall) Executive Chambers. That may change. I did that to give all sides adequate time to do what they needed to do.”

Mullins told The Union-Recorder Wednesday he prefers withholding comment until he reviews the official notice of challenge.

Beer carries the burden of proof during the tentatively scheduled Sept. 23 hearing. Whatever decision Rushin hands down, either party may appeal to Superior Court.

The letter of challenge chronicled a May 24, 2006 State Election Board ruling finding probable cause that Mullins violated several election code provisions during candidacy for re-election in the November 2005 City Council elections.

According to the letter, Administrative Law Judge Stephanie M. Howells conducted a May 15-16, 2007 hearing at the Baldwin County Courthouse. After the hearing, Judge Howells concluded that Mullins committed three violations of election code by unlawfully assisting Willie Ford Jr. in preparing his absentee ballot, unlawfully possessed Ford’s ballot and paid Ford to vote for him on the ballot with “five dollars for beer,” the decision stated.

The State Attorney General’s office failed to prove any sort of conspiracy to commit the violations or any signs of voter intimidation.

Judge Howells’ Aug. 6, 2007 decision recommended that Mullins be required to pay $2,500 per violation plus investigative costs for a total of $7,500.

The 2007 administrative law decision also ordered Mullins’ campaign worker Larry Simmons to pay a $2,500 fine for each of his eight violations including possessing and aiding in the filling out and mailing absentee ballots of several voters.

The letter also states “Mullins filed a Petition for Judicial Review on Nov. 27, 2007, petitioning the court to reverse the decision and Final Order of State Election Board wherein it adopted the Initial Decision of Administrative Law Judge Howells.”

William A. Prior Jr., chief judge of the Superior court of Baldwin County, Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit, issued an order on June 16, 2008, affirming the decision of the State Election Board and supporting all findings, according to Beer.

“In summary, a court of law found that Mr. Mullins fraudulently violated the election laws of the State of Georgia, a decision that was upheld,” Beer stated in her letter to Rushin. “Mr. Mullins, therefore, is not qualified to seek re-election.”

In her city tenure, Rushin remembers a City Council candidate residency challenge years back but said this is the first challenge of an individual’s qualification for election.

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