Burt Jones and Jody Hice earn praise from Trump but condemnation from election officials
By Tia Lynn Ivey
Morgan County representatives, Republican State Senator Burt Jones and Republican U.S. Congressman Jody Hice, made national headlines this week, after their efforts to cast doubt over the election results earned public praise from President Donald Trump, but stern rebukes from Georgia election officials.
Both Jones and Hice have used social media in recent weeks to question the election outcome, in which President-Elect Joe Biden won the State of Georgia by roughly 12,000 votes. Georgia re-certified the election results on Monday, Dec. 7, awarding all of Georgia’s 16 electoral votes to Biden. However, state lawmakers are still hoping to turn the tides in favor of Trump.
Jones, who represents Georgia’s 25th District, joined four other state senators in a petition calling for an emergency special legislative session to name a new slate of electors in the face of alleged “systemic failures” during the 2020 election. Trump retweeted Jones and gave him a personal shoutout during last week’s in-person rally in Valdosta.
“Burt, boy you are a young guy….Burt Jones, I want to thank you for being here,” said Trump to thousands gathered for the rally. “He’s a man of courage. I appreciate everything you are doing and so does this big crowd, this is a lot of people.”
In November, Trump retweeted an interview with Congressman Hice on Newsmax, in which the Republican congressman falsely claimed that 11 Alive (WXIA-TV) reported Fulton County vote rescanning would “significantly” turn the election in favor for Trump.
Brendan Keefe, with 11 Alive, debunked the claim, noting that the outlet never reported the rescan would alter vote tallies enough to sway the election to Trump.
Jones tweeted out a request to Georgians to back the controversial petition earlier this week, which was shot down by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp Monday.
“Georgia Patriot Call to Action: today is the day we need you to call your state Senate & House Reps & ask them to sign the petition for a special session. We must have free & fair elections in GA & a this is our only path to ensuring every legal vote is counted,” tweeted Jones. Jones’ tweet was retweeted by President Trump on Monday, Dec. 4.
Last week, Jones also met with Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani on Dec. 3 during a state senate hearing, claiming Giuliani presented a “bombshell video” of possible voter fraud in Fulton County, despite Georgia election officials discrediting the same video.
“America’s Mayor delivered a video bombshell today at the GA State Senate committee hearing, potentially uncovering massive voter fraud in Fulton County GA,” tweeted Jones. “‘the eye in the sky never lies.’”
However, the video Jones referenced has been widely debunked by Republican election officials, including Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Frances Watson, a lead investigator for the Georgia SOS office, and Voting Implementation Manager Gabe Sterling.
The shortened video in question circulated the internet and became a focal point for Trump campaign lawyers alleging fraud. The voice-over on the video claims vote counters in Fulton County pulled illegal ballots out of hidden suitcases to be counted after observers were “ordered” to leave. This is the video Giuliani touted to Georgia lawmakers, including Jones, last week during the state senate the hearing.
Sterling addressed the video as part of a long list of debunked conspiracy theories, saying the full video only shows “normal ballot processing.” Sterling condemned the President’s lawyers for knowingly lying to state lawmakers at last week’s hearing.
“What’s really frustrating is the president’s attorneys had this same videotape; they saw the exact same thing that the rest of us could see, and they chose to mislead state senators and the public about what was on that video,” Sterling said. “They knew it was untrue and they continue to do things like this,” he said.
In another interview, Sterling explained that the out-of-context video clip is being used to stir up distrust in the election process in Georgia.
“The ‘secret suitcases of magic ballots’ were actually ballots that had been packed into these absentee ballot carriers by the workers in plain view of the monitors and the press,” Sterling said Monday in press conference tackling voter fraud conspiracies.
“There wasn’t a bin that had ballots in it under that table. It was an empty bin and the ballots from it were actually out on the table when the media were still there, and then it was placed back into the box when the media were still there and placed next to the table,” explained Watson, who watched hours of Fulton County ballot counting footage in its entirety.
Sterling also rebuked Congressman Hice for promoting disproven claims about the election in Georgia.
On Dec. 3, Hice tweeted partial security video clips from Fulton County and made the following claims.
“This looks like election fraud on a mass scale. Fulton officials throw everyone out of the room and start counting ballots in secret. For 2 hours. 3,000 ballots per hour per machine. Multiple machines. The margin in Georgia is 12,000. You do the math,” tweeted Hice to the Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
“A U.S. Congressman sent this disinformation out of his Twitter. He wrote it himself, again. It’s irresponsible,” Sterling said of Hice, whose Congressional 10th District includes Morgan County.
“I’m frustrated that we continue to see people who are put in positions of responsibility, sending out misinformation and undermining the electoral system,” Sterling said.
Sterling, whose fiery speech on the steps of the state capitol went viral last week, chided the President, state lawmakers, and supporters who spread disinformation about the election or remained silent in the wake of growing death threats toward election officials.
“Mr. President, you have not condemned these actions or this language. Senators, you have not condemned this language or these actions. We need you to step up, and if you’re going to take a position of leadership, show some,” said an emotional Sterling. “This is elections, this is the backbone of democracy, and all of you who have not said a damn word are complicit in this. It’s too much. Yes, fight for every legal vote, go for your due process, we encourage it, use your First Amendment right. Death threats, physical threats, intimidation, it’s too much. It’s not right. They have lost the moral high ground to claim that it is.”
Sterling pleaded with the President Trump and Republican senators to denounce the ongoing violent threats being made against election workers.
“Mr. President, it looks like you likely lost the state of Georgia. We’re investigating, there’s always a possibility, I get it, you have the rights to go through the courts,” Sterling said. “What you don’t have the ability to do, and you need to step up and say this, is stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence. Someone’s going to get hurt, someone’s going to get shot, someone’s going to get killed, and it’s not right.”
Raffensperger spoke out against ongoing accusations of election fraud in Georgia, pleading with the public and state leaders to accept the election results.
“Continuing to make debunked claims of a stolen election is hurting our state,” said Raffensperger. “Disinformation regarding election administration should be condemned and rejected … integrity matters, truth matters,” said Raffensperger.
Republican Governor Brian Kemp and Georgia Lieutenant Governor Geoff, the states highest ranking election officials, released a statement Monday refusing to call a special session requested by Jones and three other Republican state senators to appoint a new set of electors.
“The General Assembly decided that Georgia’s presidential electors will be determined by the winner of the state’s popular vote. Any attempt by the legislature to retroactively change that process for the November 3rd election would be unconstitutional and immediately enjoined by the courts,” said Kemp and Duncan in the joint statement released Monday, Dec. 7. ““While we understand four members of the Georgia Senate are requesting the convening of a special session of the General Assembly, doing this in order to select a separate slate of presidential electors is not an option that is allowed under state or federal law.”
Senator Burt Jones and Congressman Jody Hice did not return the Morgan County Citizen’s request for further comment as of press time, Tuesday, Dec. 8.