Coyne Sues Georgia Democratic Party for Backing Barksdale, breaking own By-laws
(APN) ATLANTA — On May 12, 2016, John Coyne, II, one of three candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, filed a lawsuit against the Democratic Party of Georgia (DPG); former State Sen. Dubose Porter (D-Dublin), the Party Chair; and others for what he claims to be fraudulent and conspiratorial activities against himself and one other opponent in this year’s race.
Coyne claims that the DPG violated their own by-laws in backing Jim Barksdale, even prior to the Primary Election, and even while accepting qualifying fees from Coyne and another candidate.
The complaint, in contract and tort, has been filed in Fulton County Superior Court; and the case has been assigned to Fulton County Superior Court Judge Shawn Ellen Lagrua.
So far, there has been no official response from the defendants.
Coyne is a centrist from Alpharetta who once ran against U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), driving around with a boot hanging off of his truck, in an effort to “Boot McKinney.”
Barksdale is a wealthy investor, who has bankrolled his own campaign to the tune of over a million dollars.
Coyne’s lawsuit claims that the DPG sought Barksdale out as a candidate. In the lawsuit, Coyne alleges that he spoke with Mr. Barksdale at the Needles in a Haystack candidate forum in regards to his candidacy.
“Mr. Barksdale told M. Coyne that the Democratic Party had come to see him five days before he qualified, stated to him that they did not have a candidate to run against Johnny Isakson, and would he consider doing so,” the lawsuit states.
“Barksdale stated that the next day, a group of the Party leaders met with him at the Democratic Party of Georgia’s office to vet him as a candidate,” the lawsuit states.
“Four days later, Thursday, March 10, 2016 at 4:00 p.m., Mr. Barksdale filed his paperwork and FEC Statement of Candidacy, which was received by FedEx that sarne day,” the lawsuit states.
“I’ve been very cordial to Mr. Barksdale, but this is a rigged deal. He knew there were already three other candidates who were qualified before he showed up with his qualifying fee at the State Capitol with Stacey Abrams and Jason Carter. I asked Mr. Barksdale to drop out before I filed this lawsuit, but he told me that he had already committed to the party,” Coyne told APN.
Coyne also claims that he got news that there was a DPG meeting with delegates in late April 2016. At this meeting, he claims that officials in the Party introduced Barksdale as their candidate of choice.
“On April 30, 2016, the Democratic Party of Georgia held a State Committee meeting and it was attended by the Democratic Party leaders from every Democratic County Party in the State of Georgia,” the lawsuit states.
“At 11:00 a.m., the Party introduced their choice for U.S. Senate, Candidate James (Jim) Barksdale to which he addressed the group for less than 10 minutes. This meeting was held at the Macon Marriott City Center Hotel. This meeting was to elect five National Committee members. Mr. Barksdale had several staff members assisting him on introduction to these individuals from every county in the State, Georgia’s Democratic Party Leaders,” the lawsuit states.
Coyne also cites in his lawsuit several articles appearing in the AJC, where reporters Greg Bluestein, Jim Galloway, and others refer to Barksdale as the Democrats’ chosen candidate. In one, the AJC referred to Barksdale as the Party’s “hand-picked favorite.”
To be sure, just because the AJC reports this does not in and of itself create evidence that would hold up in court. However, it is interesting to note that the DPG does not appear to have objected to the AJC about their characterization of Barksdale, nor to have made any correction request.
For Mr. Coyne, the party simply is not following its own rules.
Section Seven of the DPG by-laws states that if there is more than one Democratic candidate running in a primary (in a partisan election), affiliates of the party are not allowed to support any of the individuals bidding for office.
Coyne was under the impression that he would have an equal chance of fundraising, without interference by the DPG.
“With the way the Georgia Democratic Party has been presenting Jim Barksdale as the Party’s choice for the nominee this November, this is making it very difficult for myself or my other opponent to raise any money to win the primary,” Coyne said.
Coyne claims that by submitting his candidate fee he entered into a contract of good faith with the DPG, but that the DPG has violated the duty of good faith in contract dealings, in violation of O.C.G.A. 11-1-203.
Coyne claims that the DPG has also engaged in racketeering, in violation of O.C.G.A. 16-14-4; as well as fraud and conspiracy.
THE SILENCE OF THE BARKSDALE
As previously reported by Atlanta Progressive News, Mr. Coyne was the only Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate to respond to the APN Candidate Questionnaire.
The Barksdale campaign had already failed on numerous occasions to respond to the APN Questionnaire, and even admitted to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) that he refused to discuss any issues.
Still, this reporter made another effort to reach out to the Barksdale campaign on May 11, 2016 via a Facebook comment.
The Barksdale campaign responded on May 12, 2016, within the Facebook thread: “Austin Stewart Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our best to get back to you. Very sorry if earlier messages got lost in the shuffle.”
APN then immediately sent the Barksdale campaign another copy of APN’s candidate questionnaire, and an invitation to talk over the phone..
The result of this request was the same as previous efforts; we received no response.