The Mayor of Hampton, Chris Moore, is running for reelection. Yet he somehow feels he should be exempt from any vetting process. Apparently, asking to ensure our election laws are being followed is now considered an “attack” according to an assertion he made on his Facebook page yesterday.
Mr. Moore should know it’s called vetting and when you enter the political arena as a candidate for elected office, it should be expected. Even encouraged.
My blog readers would not be surprised to learn that about two weeks ago I contacted the Henry County Elections Director Janet Shellnutt with evidence that Mayor Moore appeared to have unpaid delinquent taxes. I also made her aware of previously unpaid delinquent taxes by Stockbridge Mayor Mark Alarcon, so any claim by Moore that I have singled him out for persecution is simply not true.
In 2009 the Georgia Department of Revenue filed in Henry County Superior Court a document that said Chris Moore had neglected to pay nearly $1,800 in sales taxes in 2002. My understanding at the time was that Georgia law prohibited tax defaulters from running for elected office which is why I contacted the Elections Office.
In speaking with Ms. Shellnutt, I advised her that I was aware I was not eligible to make an official complaint since (1) the deadline for citizen complaints for the upcoming election had already passed and (2) there was a residency requirement to file such a complaint. I don’t live in the City of Hampton. But, the law does allow her, as Elections Superintendent, to make eligibility challenges up to the date of the election. Ms. Shellnutt asked that I forward Mr. Moore’s delinquent tax lien document to her for consideration so as to err on the side of caution. She put the matter to the Election Board and a hearing was held last Friday.
Moore admitted the tax was unpaid until the matter had been brought to his attention by Ms. Shellnutt. He claimed he had previously disputed the tax but assumed the matter had been resolved merely because he hadn’t heard anything back from the Georgia Department of Revenue.
But if he disputed owing the tax, why then did he agree to pay it last week? Well, he’s running for reelection and can’t very well ask voters to allow him to oversee millions of their tax dollars, while at the same time ignoring his own tax debt. That would be hypocritical, no?
So rather than verify the matter had actually been resolved, he chose to run for office with an outstanding tax debt which caused his eligibility to come into question.
Moore, Moore, Pitiful Me
Because the Election Board found sufficient evidence to question his eligibility and hold an official hearing, regardless of the outcome, Moore was forced to finally pay his delinquent taxes and explain to them the circumstances surrounding it. Yet, now he wants us to believe that he is the victim in all of this somehow.
Prior to Friday’s hearing, I had a brief encounter with Mr. Moore at the Bear Creek Festival. We’d never met before, so under the circumstances I thought I should introduce myself to him. His first response was to ask me if there was something he’d done to make me mad at him. This was confusing to me because most political candidates seem to understand that there’s nothing personal about the vetting process. It is, or should be, an expected part of running for elected office. For him to take it so personally shows great arrogance on his part in my opinion.
I assured him there was nothing personal about it and explained I’d been blogging for several years about Henry County politics in an attempt to hold our elected officials accountable. I said to him “As a citizen activist, I am just doing my job. It’s what I do.” He was quite relieved to hear this and his last comment to me was that I had restored his faith in humanity.
I put my remark in quotations because I want no misunderstanding of exactly what I said. Over the weekend Moore has been twisting my words to make himself look like a victim. Apparently, he, and Hampton City Council candidates Arley Lowe and Fred DeRuvo have embarked on a coordinated effort to use my words out of context by trying to infer that when I said “I’m just doing my job” that I was somehow admitting to being a paid opposition researcher. I am not.
Arley Lowe has even gone so far as to commit potential libel in order to try and save Moore from this horrible, awful, terrible, evil citizen activist blogger when he wrote the following false statement on his own Facebook page:
I never said any such thing.
And, for the record, I have never accepted any monetary compensation, favor, or any form of quid pro quo from anyone, ever, regarding my political activism, research, or blogging. Nor have I ever made any admission or statement saying as much.
Besides, Arley Lowe wasn’t even at the hearing so how would he know what was said there?
Moore is also telling his Facebook followers that I apologized to him. Anyone who knows me knows that this is patently ridiculous. I did no such thing.
For these three candidates to go to such length to try and impugn the character a citizen activist is really quite extraordinary.
The Telling Resumes
Voters have every right to information made available in public records in order to make informed decisions as to a candidates qualifications. How a candidate handles their own finances, to the extent of what is publicly available for us to see, should be a consideration when deciding on who they wish to allow to make decisions about their tax dollars.
For instance, the fact that Mayor Chris Moore had a property foreclosed just two years ago is, I believe, information voters may find relevant as to his qualifications to oversee Hampton’s multi-million dollar annual budget.
Not only was he foreclosed on, but I believe an argument could be made that he actually allowed it to happen.
According to Henry County property records, Moore purchased a home in Locust Grove in 2002 which apparently was his primary residence until he purchased his current home in Hampton in 2008 for $207,004.00.
Records then indicate that in September of 2010, his Hampton home was refinanced in the amount of $207,418.00. That’s more than the original loan amount of just two years prior.
So, if equity was taken out of his Hampton home, why weren’t those funds used to prevent the foreclosure less than a year later in 2011 of the Locust Grove property that he still owned? Someone should ask him about that.
And, while we’re in the spirit of vetting candidates, the voters of Hampton may be also be interested in knowing that, according to the website Bankruptcy.com, just two short years ago a Frederick P. DeRuvo, Jr. of 204 Skopas Ct of Roseville, CA filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Federal Bankruptcy Courts. It was discharged (granted) in October 2011. Online records appear to show this was the DeRuvo’s address prior to moving to Hampton. If that’s the case, this bankruptcy would also explain why Henry County property records indicate he doesn’t even own the house in Hampton where he currently lives.
These are the people who are asking residents of Hampton to allow them to manage a multi-million dollar budget for their city. Surely, Hampton can do better.