UPDATE | Georgia 'deportation bus' GOP candidate reports to jail

Published: May. 19, 2018 at 11:48 PM EDT
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Thursday, December 27, 2018

ATLANTA (AP) — A Republican gubernatorial candidate in Georgia who campaigned in a "deportation bus" has turned himself in to county jail after being indicted on charges including insurance fraud.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports an attorney for state Sen. Michael Williams said Wednesday that the indictment presented a "one-sided story" and Williams would be "out soon" after arranging bond.

The charges stem from a May incident when Williams reported that his campaign office was burglarized. Williams' campaign manager said then that $300,000 worth of computers used to mine cryptocurrency was taken.

Williams is accused of lying to investigators and making a false insurance claim.

Williams finished last in the five-man Republican gubernatorial primary in May. His campaign was based on loyalty to President Donald Trump and a series of publicity stunts, including the controversial "deportation bus."

Friday, December 21, 2018

ATLANTA (AP) — A former candidate in the Georgia governor's race who featured a "deportation bus" in his GOP campaign has been indicted on insurance fraud charges.

The indictment handed up Tuesday by Hall County authorities was obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It accuses state Sen. Michael Williams of making a false report that computer servers were stolen from his campaign office shortly before his last-place finish in the May Republican primary.

The Forsyth County Republican declined comment Thursday. His former campaign manager, Seth Weathers, tells the newspaper the indictment was a "political witch hunt from the beginning and has zero merit."

Williams based his campaign on loyalty to Donald Trump and a series of publicity stunts, including a "deportation bus ."

Hall County District Attorney Lee Darragh says Williams is making arrangements to turn himself in.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

(News 12 NBC 26 News At 11)

GROVETOWN, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- The controversial "deportation bus" made a campaign stop in Grovetown Saturday afternoon, but few came out to protest or show their support.

The bus is at the center of Georgia State Senator Michael Williams' campaign for governor and has people sounding off on social media, even garnering national attention this week. Williams says this is one of the biggest issues in this race, so he wanted to take a unique approach.

If someone stops and takes one look at this bus, Senator Williams expects one of two reactions.

"We get thumbs up, we get honks from cars," Williams says. "But we also get the middle finger."

The candidate for governor says the bus is only symbolic and just meant to start a conversation about his solution to the illegal immigration issue. He says his plan that would allow local sheriff's deputies to act as ICE agents and lawfully detain and arrest anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant.

"Once they identify somebody that's in our state and country illegally committing yet another crime," Williams says, "they can then begin the deportation process immediately."

Williams met with a few supporters Saturday but not everyone is on board, including the owner of the Grovetown Little Caesars. He sent a message to Williams Friday after hearing about the bus coming to Grovetown to express his disapproval in his campaign.

The message reading in part, "A customer brought to my attention that you are planning on coming to our place of business with your bus. I was not aware of nor did I approve of this. I do not condone any politicians using scare tactics in a desperate attempt to garner votes. Please do not disrupt my place of business today nor any day as part of a political campaign."

"I actually lived in Mexico for a few years as a missionary and I want to say that some of the things written on your bus are deplorable and are as gross a mischaracterization of any I've ever seen," the message continues. "There is a very large chasm between fixing our broken immigration system and spewing hate. I'll let the voters help you decide which one you are doing."

"There have been some businesses out there that are caving to the liberal pressure and they're asking us to find some other place to locate our bus," Williams says. "We want the businesses to stand up and protect our country as well and stand up to the liberals and we're trying to help them do that."

But no matter whether you're for or against his message, he says he's not backing down

"Illegal immigration, most people believe, is wrong and that's what we're talking about is illegal immigration. I'm all for legal immigration," Williams says. "This country was built upon immigrants and it's what kind of keeps the American dream and heartbeat alive."

There were a handful of supporters there today to take pictures with the bus, but no protestors there speaking out while the bus was in town. The bus ads caught the attention of video website YouTube, which deleted the ad from the website for violating their hate speech policy

Recent polls show Williams pulling around three percent of the voter support in this race ahead of Tuesday's vote.