May 17, 2022
Today’s episode is a bonus. It’s not my analysis of the news of the day, but rather a chance for me to sit down and chat with a news-maker. At the moment, I call these bonus shows, “Conversations.”
Jeff Lewis was a member of the House of Representatives in the State of Georgia for many years. When he hung up his political hat, he wasn’t sure if he would feel the call to run again. As with any campaign, there were funds leftover, sitting in an account. Per campaign finance law, twice a year, a statement needed to be filed showing any transactions, both in and out of the account.
After a few years of reporting basically nothing, Jeff’s campaign finance lead wanted to step away and so Jeff asked the State if he needed to keep filing on an account that was effectively dormant. The advice he was given, at the time, was to make a filing noting the account was going to be kept dormant and to notify the state if there was a plan to become politically active again.
We move to late 2021 when Jeff was considering a run for State Senate district 52. According to Jeff, the incumbent, State Senator Chuck Hufstetler, said he wasn’t sure if he was going to run again. After several attempts to get a definitive answer, Jeff Lewis announced his candidacy. When qualifying week came up in March, both Lewis and Hufstetler both filed, along with a 3rd candidate, Derek Keeney, who was initially in GA-14 until redistricting put him in GA-52 as well.
According to Lewis, close to the end of the 2022 legislative session, Senator Hufstetler added an amendment to a bill. That bill was then referenced in filing a lawsuit against the Lewis campaign declaring his ineligibility due to failure to file the status of prior campaign funds. Lewis said he didn’t even know about the suit until reading it in the paper and was never contacted to fix any issue with his filings. This was well after qualifying and roughly a month before early voting.
Jeff Lewis had to assemble a legal team to defend his campaign. After making their arguments, the ruling did not come down until over a week into early voting. The judge, ruling solely on the basis of the law, found Lewis to be ineligible to remain on the ballot. However, it would be up to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to make the final call. On Friday, May 13, Raffensperger upheld the judges decision, leaving Lewis’s team to file an appeal.
At the time of the recording, the appeal had not yet been heard and we are a week from primary election day. The filing issue was rectified well before the first court date and there was no indication of funds being used improperly, only that bi-annual filings had not been made.
Candidate Jeff Lewis feels good about the latitude the Appeals Court will have and he will be returned to an active status. He asks his supporters to try to wait until election day to give the process time, but if they have to early vote, to still consider casting their ballot for him.
As we close, Jeff shares his phone number and contact information in case anyone in his district would like to reach out with any additional questions or concerns. He suggests calling, texting or leaving a message on the campaign Facebook page, since he gets immediate notifications from those outlets.