An investigation into alleged illegal campaigning in Bulloch County could lead to a hearing before the state election board. However, due to the case still being an open investigation, details regarding the nature of the complaint are currently unavailable.
“On June 1, 2016, Secretary of State Brian Kemp directed investigators to open an investigation after the office received a complaint alleging illegal campaigning in Bulloch County,” said Candace Broce, spokesperson for the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. “I cannot disclose additional details until the investigation is set for a hearing before the State Election Board.”
Bulloch County Board of Elections Supervisor Patricia Lanier Jones said she is aware of the investigation, but has not had any complaints in her office about illegal campaigning.
“The first I heard of it was when (a Statesboro Herald reporter) asked about it,” she said Thursday.
During early voting in Bulloch County before the May 24 General Primary, the Statesboro Herald received several messages about alleged incidents involving supporters of a political candidate showing up at the Board of Elections office and other voting locations wearing campaign –related shirts, buttons, hats and magnetic signs on vehicles.
When asked at that time about the allegations, Jones said she was unaware of any incidents involving illegal campaigning.
According to a copy of a complaint form provided to the Statesboro Herald by Broce, a citizen named Frank Hiller filed the complaint with the Secretary of State’s Office. Details of the complaint were redacted from the copy, as the investigation is ongoing, she said.
There were no contact numbers or local listings available for Hiller, and efforts to reach him were not immediately successful. Jones confirmed there is a citizen of that name in Bulloch County, but had no contact information for him.
Both Jones and Bulloch County staff attorney Jeff Akins declined further comment, citing the investigation’s active status as reasons.
Broce did not have an estimate of when a hearing would be scheduled, as the length of time the investigation will require is unknown.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.