Group says Elections member should not campaign for Copenhaver

By: Jonathan Martin
By: Jonathan Martin

August 31, 2006

The vice-chairman of the Richmond County Board of Elections is actively campaigning for the mayor's re-election.

The Taxpayers for Economic Justice say it's unethical for Tim Moses to serve on the board while working with Mayor Deke Copenhaver's campaign.

We're On Your Side with a look at the law, and what exactly being on the Board of Elections means.

The Board of Elections has an important job. They tabulate ballots, certify results, and issue rulings in cases of conflict.

For that reason, one group says it's a conflict of interest for Mayor Copenhaver's one-time campaign manager to serve on the board.

They call themselves Taxpayers for Economic Justice, and they're starting a petition asking Timothy Moses to step down as vice chairman of the Richmond County Board of Elections.

"We feel there is a great conflict of interest and he should resign from that," says Travon Wright.

Moses was the mayor's campaign manager last year. He no longer holds that position, but says he will continue to work with the campaign.

"Deke's my friend," Moses told News 12. "He's been my friend for years. It's no secret I support him, and I will still be involved in his campaign. I'll put a sticker on my car."

But the Taxpayers for Economic Justice claim it's a conflict of interest, since Moses' job includes tabulating votes and certifying results.

"Do we know if fairness is being played out?" asked Sharon Paschal. "We do not, but one thing we can prevent is the opportunity for unfairness to happen."

"This is just sad for people to try to make an issue out of this," said Mayor Copenhaver.

Georgia law requires elections board members to take oath promising to serve impartially and faithfully, but it doesn't say anything about publicly supporting a candidate or working on a campaign.

"If I had any inclination that this was not proper, I would not do it," Moses said. "I would not have been involved with Deke's campaign."

Moses says he has no plans of stepping down, and the taxpayers say they have no plans of stopping their fight for what they say is only fair.

Moses was on the board last year. He told me during the runoff between Deke Copenhaver and Willie Mays, he chose not to participate in the tabulation of votes. Again, he says that was his choice.

The Taxpayers for Economic Justice are planning to take this petition to the US Department of Justice.

Moses is not a paid staffer on the Copenhaver campaign. He says his work on the campaign was all voluntary.

The Board of Elections is not a nonpartisan commission. It is composed of two Republican appointees--Moses is one of them--and two Democratic appointees.

There is also a nonpartisan chairperson.

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