Alleged Homophobic Fraudulent Robocalls in Milton Election
(APN) ATLANTA — Alan Tart, the City Councilman in Milton whose election in 2007 was seen as remarkable–given that Tart is an openly homosexual man living in Georgia’s most Republican city–says two robocalls may have led to his recent loss to challenger, Lance Large.
Previously, Atlanta Progressive News reported that Tart’s sexual orientation had not become a campaign issue in the 2011 race.
However, following Tart’s election loss Tuesday, Tart notified APN that two robocalls went out to some Milton voters. Tart believes the call may have been targeted towards presumed Republican voters.
In one robocall, Tart says someone was impersonating him, while in another, a woman was speaking about him in third person.
“I am the only openly gay Democrat in North Fulton and it’s important to re-elect Alan Tart so that a progressive voice is heard on the city council,” one robocall said, according to Tart.
“As cited in the Georgia Voice, Atlanta Progressive News, and Project Q magazines [sic], Alan, as a progressive who is openly gay, is in a tight race against a conservative Republican Lance Large. Make sure to re-elect Alan Tart to keep a Democratic voice in a sea of Republicans,” another robocall said.
Large beat Tart in Tuesday’s election, 56.51 percent to 43.07 percent.
“It’s been kind of like the stages of grief, a whirlwind of emotion,” Tart told APN.
“Tuesday night was just kind of shock and anger. Yesterday was when the sadness set in. Today I’m realizing it is what it is – it can’t be reset,” Tart said.
“I can certainly shed light on things I’d like to say stand in the way of true democracy – a dirty, underhanded campaign that was done,” Tart said.
Tart said he has a recording one of the robocalls, the one in third person; and is working on making an audio file.
“Not everyone in the city received the call,” Tart said.
APN spoke with one Milton voter who said he did not receive the call.
“I started getting calls from supporters around 7:30 the night before the election. They were appalled at what they heard,” Tart said.
“But the call says it’s coming from the Re-elect Alan Tart campaign. The call is made to make the listener think it’s coming from my campaign,” Tart said.
As for the claim that Tart is a Democrat, “I consider myself more of an independent,” he said. He said local elections have little to do with partisan politics. He typically votes in Democratic primaries, but says he has voted in a recent Republican Primary for Governor.
“In national elections, when they [the Republican Party] find a Republican candidate who values my family – I’ll consider voting for them,” Tart said.
“I think the call was intended to scare a very conservative electorate into not voting for me,” Tart said.
“I wouldn’t be that upset necessarily if it was from the Lance Large campaign, saying this is the Lance Large campaign and just thought you should know Alan is bla bla bla bla bla. That is completely different than saying I’m calling from the Alan Tart campaign and you need to reelect me because – . It’s deceitful. It was meant to derail my campaign in the final hour,” Tart said.
Tart said the robocalls came from the phone number 800 686 2134.
When calling the number, APN heard a voice recording which stated, “You have reached a non-working number at United Health Group. Please hang up and dial the number on the back of your ID card. Thank you.”
Tart says he will be contacting a lawyer tomorrow.
OCGA 16-10-23 prohibits any individual from impersonating a public officer.
Large did not return a message left with his campaign phone number seeking comment. APN also left a message for Large through one of his campaign supporters, which he did not return.