By Tia Lynn Ivey
In the wake of the U.S. Capitol siege, in which five people died and dozens were injured, Georgia elected officials are facing backlash and calls to resign due to their efforts to overturn the November Presidential Election in favor of President Donald Trump.
U.S. Congressman Jody Hice and State Senator Burt Jones, Republicans whose districts include Morgan County, are coming under fire for touting accusations of election fraud in Georgia, seeking to object to the Electoral College certification, and using inflammatory rhetoric in the lead up to the unprecedented riots in Washington D.C. last week, in which thousands of ardent supporters of President Trump violently descended upon the U.S. Capitol building to forcibly stop the Electoral College certification for President-Elect Joe Biden. Hice is being pressured to resign from office, while Jones has been stripped of his chairmanship position in the state senate and chided by fellow Georgia state senators.
Hice, who has echoed President Trump’s claims of voter fraud and election rigging for months on his social media accounts and on various news networks, is facing calls to resign after he posted on Twitter and Instagram two now deleted posts comparing attempts to overturn the election for Trump to the 1776 American Revolutionary War.
“This is our 1776 moment,” posted Hice beneath a picture of himself walking through the nation’s capitol building on Instagram shortly before the riots broke out.
Senator Burt Jones traveled to Washington D.C. to have dinner with Vice President Mike Pence, reportedly delivering a letter from himself and four other Georgia state senators asking Pence to delay the certification slated for the next day.
Jones tweeted out a picture of himself with Vice President Pence, but deleted the post after the capitol riots.
On the morning of January 6, Hice tweeted out his intention to oppose Georgia’s electors.
“Today is the day we fight to defend our republic and preserve the integrity of our elections. I am leading the objection to Georgia’s electors in the Joint session of Congress with Senator Loeffler,” wrote Hice. “What is done today will be remembered! This is our 1776 moment.”
Hice later deleted the tweet after violence erupted and thousands of angry rioters, many donned in “1776” shirts, stormed the capitol building as the joint session was underway.
The night before the riots, State Senator Burt Jones tweeted out a picture of himself with Vice President Mike Pence but later deleted the tweet which read, “Had dinner with our VP Pence tonight at his home in Washington D.C. He has a big day tomorrow, but I do appreciate his hospitality and service to our country. “
The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that Jones was one of five Georgia state senators to sign a letter requesting Pence delay the electoral college certification, postponing the declaration of Joe Biden as the next duly elected President of the United States.
“At least five state senators sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, urging him to delay congressional certification of the electoral college votes for 12 days ‘to allow for further investigation of fraud, irregularities, and misconduct” in Georgia’s election.’
The letter reportedly cited fraud allegations in Fulton County, Georgia as one of the reasons to delay certifications, despite Georgia Republican election officials repeatedly debunking claims of fraud in Fulton County and all across Georgia.
On Tuesday, Jan. 12, Georgia Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan, who pressed Republican state senators to stop spreading debunked fraud allegations, stripped Jones of his chairman position on the senate’s Insurance and Labor Committee. Democratic State senators filed a resolution rebuking Jones and other Republican state senators for holding “sham hearings” this past December and “delegitimizing the Senate and giving credibility to these conspiracy theories.”
State Senator Jen Jordan, D-Atlanta, spoke at the first legislative session of the year on Tuesday, demanding state senators be held accountable.
“Members of this body aided and abetted the spread of information, they gave oxygen to a lie,” said Jordan, who has faced death threats for opposing election fraud claims. “To pretend like nothing happened, that this is just another day … that can’t be an option.”
The Senate resolution was co-sponsored by Georgia Senate Minority Leader Gloria Butler, D-Stone Mountain; state Sens. Harold Jones II, D-Augusta; Elena Parent, D-Atlanta; Lester Jackson, D-Savannah; and Jordan.
Hice and Jones have publicly condemned the capitol siege, although with some caveats. Hice shifted blame, tweeting that the peaceful protests were hijacked by bad actors” with some “masquerading as Trump supporters.” Hice offered no evidence for this the claim. FBI Assistant Director Steven D’Antuono said last Friday that there is no evidence that Antifa or other infiltrators were among the rioters. Jones also condemned the violence during the riots, but will press forward with election reform legislation proposals, still claiming voter fraud was afoot in Georgia during the Presidential Election. The continued efforts to overturn the election in Georgia has sparked severe backlash for the two representatives. Jones told the AJC he deleted his tweet with Pence due to a “flood of internet feedback.”
Hice is facing calls to resign or to be removed from office.
The Athens-Clarke County Democratic Committee, who are part of Hice’s 10th Congressional District, have called for Hice’s resignation or removal. One sitting Athens County Commissioner, Mariah Parker, has announced her intention to run against Hice in 2022 if he is does not step down or is not removed from office by then.
Hice released a statement through a spokesperson Sarah Selip clarifying his “1776” remarks.
“The 1776 post was our way of highlighting the electoral objection — we removed the post when we realized it could be misconstrued as supporting those acting violently yesterday and storming the Capitol,” Selip told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution earlier this week. “Both of which Rep. Hice strongly condemns.” Hice unsuccessfully objected to the electoral certification after the riots had ceased, but outgoing Senator Kelly Loeffler changed her mind last minute due to the violence perpetrated at the capitol, refusing to go forward with the objection.
Georgia election officials are also blasting state senators—including Jones—for their role in spreading election fraud “misinformation” that the Georgia Secretary of State Office says have been debunked.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who Jones called on to resign, and top Georgia election official Gabriel Sterling issued sharp rebukes to both state senators and Trump’s campaign team.
“From my point of view, [Rudy Giuliani and others] intentionally misled the state senators, the people of Georgia, and the people of the United States about this to cause this conspiracy theory to keep going and keep the disinformation going, which has caused this environment that we’re seeing today,” said Sterling in an interview after the riots. “I’m saying that Rudy Giuliani looked them in the eye and lied.”
Raffensperger concurred with Sterling and chided the state senate for not including Georgia’s own election officials to counter Giuliani’s claims.
“And Rudy Giuliani knows that. He also, I believe, you know, he has some ethical standards as a member of the bar. He knows that what he said was not true. But our state senate did not ask us to come in there so that we could rebut what they said. And it was actually left as the gospel truth, and it wasn’t. It was fabricated,” said Raffensperger.
Jones maintained allegations of election Fraud, particularly in Fulton County.
“There were hundreds, if not thousands of allegations of fraudulent activity that reportedly had gone on during the election involving either absentee ballots or in some cases the machines that people voted on,” Jones said in an interview with the Union Recorder newspaper. “The people’s confidence and the integrity of the election have really grown suspicious, and the state has not helped in the fact that a lot of these allegations have gone unchecked, and they’ve gone without investigation. The most blatant one was in Fulton County.”
Sterling argues that Jones has been “misled” by Trump’s legal team, specifically in regards to alleged fraud in Fulton County, which center around a surveillance footage from Election Day at the State Farm Arena as election workers tabulate ballots. The Trump teams claims the footage shows election tampering.
“The president’s legal team had the entire tape, they watched the entire tape, and then –from our point of view – intentionally misled the state Senate, the voters and the people of the United States about this,” Sterling said. “It was intentional, it was obvious, and anybody watching this knows that.”
Last Sunday, 60 Minutes featured Sterling and Raffensperger on the program to explain the controversy, with Sterling explaining the video in question from Fulton County, describing the the footage as “routine” and “secure.”
As of press time on Tuesday, Jan. 12, neither Hice nor Jones returned the Morgan County Citizen’s request for further comment.