The Republican runoff for House District 80 has gotten dirty.

A campaign mailer mocking GOP candidate Alan Cole appearing to come from the other GOP candidate, Meagan Hanson, was actually sent by a Democrat operative.

Hanson, who did the footwork to uncover the fact that the mailer was sent by a former President Jimmy Carter’s grandson, James Carter, said she was appalled when she saw the mailer that features a photograph of former Brookhaven Mayor J. Max Davis, Brookhaven Councilmember Bates Mattison and Cole with derogatory terms stamped on them and allegedly sent by the “Super Friends for Meagan Hanson.”

Mailer sent out by Democrat operative James Carter. Click to enlarge.

Hanson and Cole face each other July 26. The winner of the primary will face Democrat state Rep. Taylor Bennett in November. Bennett defeated Davis last year for the seat vacated by Republican Mike Davis who left the seat to become a judge.

House District 80 includes Brookhaven and a small slice of Sandy Springs.

The photo used in the mailer without permission was taken by the Brookhaven Reporter at Cole’s Election Night party. The original is below.

Republican primary candidate for House District 80 Alan Cole, far right, celebrates his apparent first place finish with Brookhaven Councilmember Bates Mattison, center, and former Brookhaven Mayor J. Max Davis. (Photo Dyana Bagby)

Hanson said she was so angered by the mailer, she tracked down who sent it by first locating the bulk mail firm that mailed it and then to the printer that actually printed it. She said she discovered that a “Sally Carter,” wife of James Carter, purchased the mailers for some $800.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution was able to confirm that Carter sent the mailer.

“I take full responsibility for the mailer,” James Carter told the AJC. “All of the allegations contained in it are 100 percent true.”

Davis was investigated for alleged sexual harassment while he was mayor and Mattison has recently filed for bankruptcy.

Carter earned national notoriety in 2012 when he discovered a video of then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney saying, “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president [Barack Obama] no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it … My job is not to worry about those people.”

Cole’s campaign told the AJC, “It appears that Alan Cole has been the subject of a vicious anonymous attack by the Democratic Party. This kind of dirty trick is a reason not to trust Georgia Democrats in the fall campaign. Alan intends to be the Republican nominee for District 80 and taking our positive message of property tax relief and reigning in county government straight to the voters.”

Bennett also responded to the mailer via his Facebook page:

“I strongly disagree with the tactics that have been used recently in the HD80 Republican Primary race, regardless of their source or sources. My office and my campaign strive to adhere to the highest standards of transparency and accountability. During the first weeks of my legislative career, I sponsored HB 1016, which would have prohibited sending campaign related mailers without taking responsibility for their content.  I will never participate in anonymous or misleading mailings, and I encourage all candidates in HD 80 and their supporters to focus on the substantive issues that affect our district and our state,” Bennett said.

Bill Gannon, a Sandy Springs resident who is campaigning for Hanson, called the mailer a “new low.”

“Taylor Bennett and his supporters have reached a new low and this is something they will have to deal with in November,” he said.

Hanson, who has vehemently denounced the mailer, also denounced the Democratic Party for getting involved in a Republican race.

“I was very shocked they [Democrats] would get involved in our Republican primary,” Hanson said.

“They have no business doing that. What it shows me is they are very concerned about the HD 80 seat. I think it’s important for everyone to know, Republican or Democrat, that the Democrats are trying to have influence with a Republican election — and that’s not OK,” she said.

Dyana Bagby

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.

One reply on “House District 80 race takes nasty turn with misleading mailer”

  1. I am saddened and angered by what has apparently taken place in this instance. Public servants need to represent transparency and accountability above all else. Because once you lose your credibility it doesn’t matter what else you’ve got.–Tom Reilly

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