ATLANTA (CN) - Georgia's attorney general announced Wednesday his office will not defend the state against claims it knowingly used antiquated voting technology in recent elections despite knowing it was vulnerable to being hacked.
The Coalition for Good Governance and Georgians for Verified Voting, both of which advocate for voting transparency, sued Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp in Fulton County Superior Court on July 3. The case was removed to federal court in August. The proceedings are pending.
However, it was recently revealed that a computer server crucial to the lawsuit was erased four days after the suit was filed in state court, according to Marilyn Marks, executive director of the Coalition for Good Governance, "there’s conflicting information between what the attorney general has stated and what defendants have stated regarding the destruction of records."
"It suggests there’s something very troubling and serious happening,” Marks said.
Earlier this week the state attorney general's office notified U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg that Georgia Attorney General Christopher Carr is stepping down from the case.
In an email to Courthouse News, Carr said, “Our office has some of some of the best and brightest legal minds in Georgia, and I will always be confident in our ability to defend the laws of this state. In some circumstances, our office may run into situations that prevent us from representing state agencies or officials. We will never quit vigorously defending the laws of our great state.
"In this situation, one state defendant in the Curling lawsuit made public statements that took a position adverse to another party that we also represented in the litigation," the attorney general continued. "Mindful of the rules governing attorney representation of multiple clients, our office withdrew from our representation of all of the state defendants in this litigation. I cannot and will not comment on the positions taken or decisions made by any of our clients related to this litigation due to the rules governing the practice of law.”
A private law firm, Barnes Law Group, LLC, will step in to defend Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office. Former Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes leads that firm.
“Governor Barnes and I don’t see eye to eye on everything, but he will be a zealous advocate for the State Election Board and the Secretary of State to show that these claims are baseless. We look forward to working with him as we continue to provide secure elections in Georgia,” Kemp said in a prepared statement.
But Marks was troubled.
“The Attorney General has a responsibility for representing state officials,” Marks said. “When an attorney general has to withdraw from a case and force taxpayers to pay for expensive outside counsel for the state officials, obviously there’s something seriously wrong.”
Defendants in the suit include Kemp; the state election board; the Cobb County elections director and board of elections; DeKalb County elections director and board of elections; Fulton County elections director and board of elections; Merle King; and the Center for Election Systems at Kennesaw State University.
“The press and the public should be very spectacle of the claims that this destruction of records was routine; Secretary Kemp knew very well that he had been sued and went to extreme measures to destroy the records,” Marks said. “The press and the public should exercise great scrutiny over what’s going on here. The case continues to be extremely interesting.”
A representative of the attorney general's office did not respond to a request for comment.
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