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Candidate challenged over unpaid taxes accuses state senators of ‘voter suppression’

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Candidate challenged over unpaid taxes accuses state senators of ‘voter suppression’

Nadine Thomas (left) and State Sen. Elena Parent (right)

DeKalb County, GA — Early voting in the May 21 Democratic primary has yet to begin, but the fight for the newly redrawn Senate District 44 is in full swing.

State Sen. Elena Parent, the incumbent in Senate District 44, is facing a challenge from former state senator Nadine Thomas. But Thomas owes more than $38,000 in taxes, according to a complaint that questions her eligibility to run. A resident of District 44, Krista Brewer, challenged Thomas’ qualification to run for office because the Georgia constitution prohibits anyone who has defaulted on their taxes from holding public office unless the taxes have been repaid or the candidate is on a repayment plan.

In response, Thomas — who is Black — has accused Parent and State Sen. Nan Orrock — who are white — of accosting her at the Capitol during qualifying week over her decision to challenge Parent.

“Former State Senator Nadine Thomas, a trailblazer as the first African American female to hold the position of Georgia State Senator, was recently confronted and bombarded at the Georgia State Capitol by two white female Democrat lawmakers, Senators Nan Orrock and Elena Parent,” a press release from Thomas said. “The incident occurred during qualifying week. Thomas was angrily approached, bullied, and questioned about her decision to run in the newly drawn State Senate District 44.”

Thomas called it “Karen behavior.”

But Parent said this did not happen, saying, “There is zero truth to the wild accusations that my opponent has fabricated in her press release.”

Senator Orrock did not return messages seeking comment.

Thomas said she is unaware of any audio or video recording of the alleged incident, which she said occurred at “the security checkpoint.” Responding to follow-up questions on Monday morning, Thomas said there were witnesses, and she would provide the names, but she hadn’t provided any names as of 10:20 p.m. on March 25.

Her claim was first publicized on the Shelley Wynter Show, a conservative political talk show on WSB starring a member of the Georgia Black Republican Council. A clip of his remarks, which did not include a response from Parent, was published on the WSB website under the headline ” White liberal women threaten Nadine Thomas.” Vernon Jones, a former DeKalb County CEO and Democratic legislator who took a hard right turn became a Republican and began supporting former president Donald Trump, also publicized the claim.

“Speaking of voter suppression, a former Georgia state legislator and colleague of mine, Sen Nadine Thomas was the first Black elected female to the Georgia Senate, after serving in the House,” Jones said. “She left the legislature some years ago, but recently decided to run in a district that was drawn by court order. Its Black population is 70%. According to Sen Thomas, while qualifying to run again, two current liberal white female state senators Elena Parent and Nan Orrock used racist Democrat Bull Connors voter suppression and election interference tactics to stop her from running. I warned you about liberal democrats.”

Thomas said Jones is not affiliated with her campaign.

“Vernon Jones is NOT a part of my campaign,” Thomas said in an email. “He is a former colleague, and my contact list of Black Caucus members included past and present members. I also appreciate him posting it, but had nothing to do with him doing so. Ironically, he seems to be one of only a few people willing to post and challenge this outrageous display of discourse and intimidation.”

Thomas also declined to say if she has settled her tax debt.

“I am told by my attorney not to discuss my taxes until after my hearing on April 2,” Thomas said.

Parent said she did not direct Brewer—who records show has given to Parent’s campaigns in the past—to challenge Thomas’ qualifications, but she did mention her outstanding tax debt to Brewer. An attempt to reach Brewer was unsuccessful. Her attorney, who helped her file her challenge with the Office of State Administrative Hearings, did not return a message seeking comment.

The Office of State Administrative Hearings is a state agency that holds hearings to resolve disputes between government agencies, including disputes about candidate qualifications. An administrative law judge will hear the case and make a recommendation to the Secretary of State, who will make the final decision. Either side can appeal the outcome of that decision to the Superior Court in Fulton County.

So, does it really matter that Thomas has unpaid taxes? Parent said it does.

“If you’re going to be casting votes to decide how other people’s tax money is going to be spent, you yourself need to be a responsible taxpayer,” Parent said.

Here is Thomas’ full press release:

**Former State Senator Nadine Thomas Stands Against Covert Racism and Voter and Election Suppression from within the Democrat Party in Georgia’s Newly Drawn Senate District 44**

Ellenwood, GA – Former State Senator Nadine Thomas, a trailblazer as the first African American female to hold the position of Georgia State Senator, was recently confronted and bombarded at the Georgia State Capitol by two white female Democrat lawmakers, Senators Nan Orrock and Elena Parent. The incident occurred during qualifying week, Thomas was angrily approached, bullied, and questioned about her decision to run in the newly drawn State Senate District 44.

The aggressive approach by Senators Orrock and Parent, with Orrock demanding an explanation from Thomas about her candidacy in the district where Parent was also running, left Thomas deeply disturbed. Thomas expressed her disappointment in facing such abrasive and toxic behavior from fellow party members, likening it to the tactics she would have expected from across the aisle, not from within her own party. She made it clear to both Orrock and Parent, that district 44 did not belong to either of them, it belonged to the people of that district, and the people should have an opportunity to decide their own legislators and not be manipulated by corrupt back door political party games.

Thomas said despite the court’s decision to create a predominately Black district to enhance Black voters’ political power, two liberal white Democratic lawmakers, Senators Nan Orrock and Elena Parent, appear to be challenging the principles of democracy and diversity. Their actions suggest a belief that Black voters should not have the freedom or option to choose their own representatives, and that only a white woman should have the right to run in the district to represent them.

Shortly after this encounter, Thomas received notice that Krista Brewer, (a friend of Parent & Board Member of WDNACTION https://www.wdnaction.org/krista-brewer , an organization supposedly about supporting women, and large democrat party donor) filed papers questioning her qualifications based on alleged tax issues. Thomas sees this as a clear attempt at candidate intimidation and a display of covert racism and white supremacy.

Thomas called out the blatant double standard, pointing out that similar tax issues did not prevent the former Gubernatorial candidate, from running for office, nor the many other sitting members who currently owe state and federal taxes. Thomas who had never heard of Krista Brewer until she received the legal notification that her bid to run for office was being challenged by her, found it odd that neither Brewer nor Elena Parent, had an issue with another candidates well known tax issue, since campaign disclosures show that they both gave thousands to her campaign in 2017 and beyond. The irony and audacity of three white woman, conspiring together in this manner now is shocking. Thomas also acknowledges like many Georgians, because of COVID and other issues, she has had challenges paying off her taxes but has been on an agreed upon payment plan with the respective government entities involved. These tactics are representative of the trend of Black voters who have been disenfranchised by the Democrat Party and are now looking for other options.

In a firm denouncement, Thomas has characterized the actions of Senators Orrock, Parent and Krista Brewer, as unacceptable “Karen Behavior,” driven by a sense of entitlement and superiority that undermines the agency and autonomy of Black voters, not only in her district but within the Democrat Party as a whole.

Thomas said, in light of the recent challenges that Black voters in Georgia faced during the last presidential election and throughout history, she is shocked that those within her own party would resort to these bullying and racist tactics. We should all be fighting for unity, inclusivity, and respect for the democratic values that should guide our electoral processes, and not tactics to undermine and to intimidate those willing to run for office. Politicians should not feel that they own the right to hold a political office/seat, too many of our elected officials, have gone for years without challengers, or use their relationships within the party to control and manipulate who has a voice and who does not.

Thomas says that she welcomes the challenge of running against Parent in a fair and just election process but goes on to say that she will not be intimated, threatened, or attacked while doing so. We should all want a more inclusive and equitable political landscape that honors the legacy of those who have fought for equality and justice throughout history. Let us all work together to give a concerted effort to dismantle systemic barriers and combat racial discrimination, whether overt or covert. Black Voters Matter and so does Black Representation!

To see the full OSAH complaint against Thomas, click here.

Here is Parent’s full response:

While there is zero truth to the wild accusations that my opponent has fabricated in her press release, what is true is that she failed to pay state and federal taxes over multiple decades (documents attached). And the taxes she owes aren’t an insignificant amount. State and federal documents show that more than $38,000 is owed and has been owed for almost two decades in some cases.

Voters deserve to know the facts about the taxes my Democratic primary opponent owes now just as much as the voters of HD81 did in 2010 when I made sure they knew my white Republican opponent had unpaid and delinquent taxes.

But, she’s not only delinquent on paying these taxes, she’s also demonstrated a pattern of dishonesty over the past three weeks:

— On March 4, she signed an affidavit to run for the State Senate that includes this language: “I am not a defaulter for any federal, state, county, municipal, or school system taxes.” (blank qualifying template attached).

— On her recently-launched campaign website she encourages voters to “re-elect” her. She was last elected in 2005, but this is the choice she’s making on her website. (screenshot attached).

— Then of course, there’s the almost 800 words of misinformation in her “press release,” including using the Covid-19 pandemic as an excuse for unpaid federal taxes from 2006 and 2015 and unpaid state taxes from 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2018.

While her pattern of dishonesty speaks to the credibility of her accusations, it does not disqualify her from running for office. Her candidacy is being challenged in court for one reason only – the Georgia Constitution says you can’t run for or hold office if you owe delinquent taxes. She doesn’t meet this standard, so her candidacy is being challenged. The courts will decide if she’s eligible.

I have worked hard for the people of our state in the Senate for 10 years, and I’ve done so with the utmost integrity. On May 21, the voters of Senate District 44 will decide who they trust to represent them in our State Senate. I’ve shown consistently for a decade in the Senate that they can count on me to be honest with them and to fight for them.

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