Legal Library


Case No. 97-CV-2340

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT NORTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA

FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

Georgia State Conference of NAACP Branches; Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Georgia Citizens Coalition on Hunger; Hispanic Political Action Committee; Georgia Rural Urban Summit; John White; Charles Sherrod; John L. Spann; Lewis Leary; James Gibson; Julian Holder; William Clark; Clinton M. Marsh; Jerrie Lynn Peevy; John Elliott; Suzanne Britt,

Plaintiffs,

v.

Lewis A. Massey; in his representative capacity as Secretary of State of Georgia; Georgia State Senate; Pierre Howard, in his representative capacity as presiding officer of the Georgia State Senate; Georgia House of Representatives; Thomas Murphy, in his representative capacity as Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives,

Defendants.
 
 

Plaintiffs allege as follows:

PRELIMINARY STATEMENT

1. This action is brought pursuant to the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution; the First Amendment of the United States Constitution; the equal protection guarantees of the Georgia Constitution, art. I, s. 1, Para. 2, and the freedom of expression and association guarantees of the Georgia Constitution, art. I, s. 1, for deprivation of Plaintiffs' rights to an equal and meaningful vote, including meaningful participation in the entire electoral process in Georgia State Senate elections. The campaign finance system for Georgia's State Senate elections discriminates against Plaintiffs' exercise of their political rights on the basis of their economic status. It effectively excludes Plaintiffs from participating in a critical part of the electoral process. Further, it eliminates many qualified candidates on the basis of wealth and, thus, restricts voters' choices to candidates who have personal wealth or wealthy supporters. This exclusionary process operates as a "wealth primary," in which wealthy candidates or wealthy supporters of candidates or both control who participates in and who consistently wins elections.

2. Defendants Georgia State Senate and House of Representatives, through their legislative practices, and Defendant Secretary of State of Georgia, through his administration and oversight of Georgia state elections, have effectively established, endorsed, and maintained a "wealth primary" in Georgia State Senate elections. Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief enjoining the Defendant's operation of the wealth primary without remedial measures that reduce the dominance of wealth in Georgia State Senate elections and which provide alternative public financing to enable non- wealthy voters and candidates to participate meaningfully in state senate elections.

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

3. Jurisdiction is proper under 28 U.S.C. s.s.1331, 1343(a)(3) and (a)(4). Jurisdiction is proper over the state constitutional claims under 28 U.S.C. s.1367(a).

4. Venue is proper under Local Rule 3.1(B)(1)(b) because one of the defendants resides in this district. Venue is also proper under Local Rule 3.1(B)(2) because one of the plaintiffs resides in this district.

PARTIES

Plaintiffs

5. Plaintiff Georgia State Conference of NAACP Branches ("Georgia NAACPÓ) is a non-profit organization of over 10,000 members. Almost all of its adult members are registered voters in Georgia.

6. Plaintiff Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) is a national civil rights organization with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. Almost all of its Georgia members are registered voters.

7. Plaintiff Georgia Citizens Coalition on Hunger is a statewide advocacy group with state offices in Atlanta. The Coalition includes 40 affiliated organizations and over 400 individual members. Almost all of its adult members are registered voters.

8. Plaintiff Hispanic Political Action Committee (HISPAC) advocates statewide and has offices in Avondale Estates in Dekalb County. HISPAC has 23,000 members. A large majority of its adult members are registered voters.

9. Plaintiff Georgia Rural Urban Summit is a non-profit organization with offices in Athens and Decatur, Georgia.

10. Plaintiff John White is a former candidate for Georgia State Senate District 12 in the 1996 Democratic primary election. He is a registered voter in Dougherty County and resides in Albany, Georgia.

11. Plaintiff Charles Sherrod is a former candidate for Georgia State Senate District 12 in the 1992 Democratic primary election. He is a registered voter in Dougherty County and resides in Albany, Georgia.

12. Plaintiffs John L. Spann, Lewis Leary, James Gibson, Julian Holder, William Clark, Clinton Marsh, John Elliott and Suzanne Britt are citizens of Georgia who are registered, have previously voted in and are currently qualified to vote in elections for Georgia State Senators.

13. Plaintiff Jerrie Lynn Peevy is a former candidate for Georgia State Senate District 48 in the 1994 general election. She is a registered voter in Gwinnett County and resides in Lawrenceville, Georgia.

Defendants

14. Defendants Georgia State Senate and Georgia House of Representatives are the two branches of the Georgia legislature and have, through their legislative practices and choices, effectively established, endorsed, and maintained a "wealth primary" in Georgia State Senate elections.

15. Defendant Lewis A. Massey is the Secretary of State of Georgia. As the chief elections officer of the state, he administers the election provisions of the Code of Georgia, s. 21-2-50 et. seq. In that capacity, he oversees compliance with the statutes and constitutional requirements governing elections, including the election of state senators. Mr. Massey is sued solely in his official capacity.

16. Defendant Pierre Howard is sued in his representative capacity as the presiding officer of the Georgia State Senate, a branch of the Georgia legislature which, together with the Georgia House of Representatives, has effectively established, endorsed, and maintained a "wealth primary" in Georgia State Senate elections.

17. Defendant Thomas B. Murphy is sued in his representative capacity as the Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, a branch of the Georgia legislature which, together with the Georgia State Senate, has effectively established, endorsed, and maintained a "wealth primary" in Georgia State Senate elections.

FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

Demographics

18. According to the 1990 Census, the state of Georgia has a total population of 6,478,216.

19. According to the 1990 Census, the voting age population of Georgia is 4,747,566 (73.3 percent).

20. According to the 1990 Census, the per capita income in Georgia is $18,430.

21. According to the 1990 Census, Georgia has 2,366,575 households.

22. According to the 1990 Census, 1,926,247 or 81.4 percent of Georgia households have household incomes less than $55,000.

23. According to the 1990 Census, the median household income for Georgia is $29,021.

24. According to the 1990 Census, 580,017 voting age persons, or 12.2 percent of Georgia's voting age population, live below the poverty level.

The Financing of Georgia State Senate Elections

25. Georgia law does not provide for any public financing for state senate campaigns. The Constitution of Georgia does not permit adoption of legislation through ballot initiative elections. The current campaign finance system does not ensure the constitutional rights of non-wealthy candidates and voters to equal and meaningful participation in the electoral process.

26. Under Georgia law, persons, partnerships, corporations and political action committees (PACs) may contribute up to $1,000 in the aggregate to a state senate candidate in a non- election year and $2,000 in the aggregate to a state senate candidate in an election year. See GA. Code Ann. s.s. 21-5-41, 21-5-42, 21-5-43 (1996).

27. The contribution limits stated in paragraph 22 do not apply to a loan or other contribution to a state senate candidate or such candidate's campaign committee made by such candidate or a member of such candidate's immediate family. See GA. Code Ann. s.21-5-42 (1996).

28. The contribution limits stated in paragraph 22 do not apply to a bona fide loan or other contribution to a state senate candidate or such candidate's campaign committee made by a state or federally chartered financial institution or depository institution whose deposits are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation if:

29. Such loan is made in the normal course of business with the expectation on the part of all parties that such loan shall be repaid; and

30. Such loan is based on the credit worthiness of the candidate and the candidate is personally liable for the repayment of the loan. See GA. Code Ann. s. 21-5-42 (1996).

31. The campaign contribution limit exemptions provided for by Georgia law favor wealthy state senate candidates and wealthy contributors to state senate campaigns because they are far more likely than non-wealthy candidates and contributors to be able to use such exemptions.

32. Georgia's contribution limits and exemptions thereto are a part of the political process in state senate elections and operate as a factor in the wealth primary.

33. Georgia's contribution limits and exemptions thereto fail to prevent wealth from acting as a determinant factor in state senate elections.

34. Georgia's contribution limits fail to prevent the perception of corruption that arises when private individuals and entities with interests in legislative outcomes make substantial contributions to state senate candidates.

35. Georgia's contribution limits fail to protect non-wealthy candidates' and voters' right to vote, including their right to equal and meaningful participation in the electoral process.

36. During the three election cycles for Georgia State Senate from 1992 through 1996, the average total money raised by winners and their challengers in general elections ("nominees") for Georgia State Senate were as follows:
 

YEAR WINNERS NOMINEES
1992  $51,922  $31,591
1994  $49,237  $26,488
1996  $68,432  $16,150
 
37. Based on the information in paragraph 30, the average cost of a winning campaign during the three election cycles for Georgia State Senate from 1992 through 1996 is $56,530.

38. Based on the information in paragraph 30, winning candidates increased their average campaign fund by 32 percent during the three election cycles for Georgia State Senate from 1992 through 1996.

39. Based on the information in paragraph 30, the average campaign fund of unsuccessful nominees in general state senate general elections from 1992 through 1996 decreased 48 percent.

40. Based on the information in paragraph 30, the funding advantage for winners compared to unsuccessful nominees in Georgia State Senate general elections from 1992 - 1996 increased from a 55 percent lead in 1992 to a 324 percent advantage, on average, in 1996.

41. Almost invariably, the winner of the wealth primary for the Georgia State Senate wins the seat. In over 83 percent of the races from 1992 through 1996, the candidates who won the wealth primary ? who outraised and outspent their opponents - won the election.

42. During the three election cycles for Georgia State Senate from 1992 through 1996, at least 64 primary elections for the Georgia State Senate were contested, as the following tables illustrate:

DEMOCRATIC
 

YEAR NUMBER OF CONTESTS NUMBER OF CONTESTS WHERE BETTER FUNDED CANDIDATE WON THE PRIMARY
1992 18 15
1994 12 8
1996 9 6
TOTALS 39 29 (74.3%) 
 
REPUBLICAN
 
YEAR NUMBER OF CONTESTS NUMBER OF CONTESTS WHERE BETTER FUNDED CANDIDATE WON THE PRIMARY
1992 8 4
1994 7 6
1996 10 7
TOTALS 27 17 (68%) 

43. Based on the information in paragraph 36, in primary elections held during the three election cycles for Georgia State Senate from 1992 through 1996, the better funded candidate won nearly three quarters (74.3%) of the Democratic races and over two thirds (68%) of the Republican races.

44. Georgia law permits candidates for state senate to carry forward unused funds from prior elections toward subsequent campaigns.

45. During the three election cycles for Georgia State Senate from 1992 through 1996, the largest single source of funds for senate candidates was the balance forward from campaign contributions of previous years.

46. During the three election cycles for Georgia State Senate from 1992 through 1996, the use of funds from balances carried forward increased 54 percent.

47. Of the 56 candidates who won state senate seats in 1996, 42 had balances from previous campaigns that averaged $31,626 each.

48. In 1996, four candidates who carried forward balances from previous campaigns lost general election races. The average amount of the balance forward funds for these candidates was $2,166.

49. Substantial balances from previous campaigns in amounts of $30,000 or higher has deterred qualified candidates from running for Georgia State Senate.

50. In the three election cycles for Georgia State Senate from 1992 through 1996, candidates in uncontested primary or general election races increased their average campaign funds by 93 percent (from $31,068 in 1992 to $60,106 in 1996).

51. In the three election cycles for Georgia State Senate from 1992 through 1996, candidates raised a total of $9,792,408 excluding funds from balances forwarded from previous campaigns.

52. Under Georgia law, contributions of $100 or less can be reported as an aggregate amount without naming individual contributors. In the three election cycles for Georgia State Senate from 1992 through 1996, candidates raised only 17.7 percent of the total money raised (excluding funds from balances forwarded from previous campaigns) in small contributions of $100 or less.

53. In the three election cycles for Georgia State Senate from 1992 through 1996, 9,060 contributors including individuals, businesses and PACs but excluding PACs formed by political parties contributed $7,686,376 to Georgia State Senate campaigns.

54. Of the 9,060 contributors stated in paragraph 52, 2,572 gave over $500 to Georgia State Senate campaigns, for a total of $6,604,499 or 67 percent of the total funds raised from 1992 through 1996.

55. Of the 2,572 contributors who gave over $500 to Georgia State Senate campaigns from 1992 through 1996, at least 1,708 are persons.

56. The 1,708 persons referenced in paragraph 53 contributed an aggregate total of $2,87,338 or 37.4 percent of the funds stated in paragraph 51.

57. The 1,708 persons referenced in paragraph 54 represent 0.026 percent of the 1990 Georgia population.

58. The average donor in Georgia elections has a median annual income of $100,000, over three times the median household income in Georgia.

59. Based on the facts alleged in paragraphs 18-52, nearly one-third of the money in Georgia Senate races in the three election cycles for Georgia State Senate from 1992 through 1996 came from a group of contributors that is less than three one-hundredths of one percent (.03%) of the 1990 Georgia population.

60. Since 1992, numerous PACs contributed $20,000 or more to state senate campaigns, as illustrated by the following chart: 
 

NAME OF PAC CONTRIBUTION
GA Medical Association $133,785
GA Association of Realtors $112,050
GA Dental Association $ 62,850
GA Nursing Home Association $ 60,000
Law PAC of Georgia  $ 59,800
GA Hospital Association  $ 55,649
Nationsbank of GA  $ 51,316
Builder's PAC  $ 49,200
Independent Ins. Agents of GA  $ 47,400
 GA Amoco  $ 38,600
GA Textile Industry  $ 38,100
GA Association of Educators  $ 34,350
GA Optometric  $ 34,175
Vote Choice A GA  $ 32,700
GA Oilmen's Association  $ 32,250
Chiropractic PAC  $ 30,375
GA Psychologists  $ 29,200
PHARM PAC  $ 27,800
GA Medical Eye  $ 27,800
GA Bankers Association  $ 24,950
Wholesale Distributors For Good Government  $ 24,647
GA Assoc. of Life Underwriters  $ 24,350
Construction Suppliers Assoc.  $ 22,653
Coca Cola Co. GA PAC  $ 21,750
GA Branch Association of General Contractors  $ 21,250
GA Manufactured Housing Assoc.  $ 20,550
GA Dental PAC $ 20,400

61. The members of these PACs often lobby Georgia state senators on legislation.

62. Individuals also contribute substantial sums of money in state senate races. Since 1992, the following individuals have contributed over $20,000 to Georgia State Senate candidates: 
 

CONTRIBUTOR AMOUNT 
Mark F. Taylor  $92,050
Frances and James Roberson  $73,606
Kay Agnew  $70,412
Rene D. Kemp  $60,930
Donald Balfour II  $50,000
Robert Nash  $45,983
Ben Stewart  $42,600
Thomas Price  $40,000
Greg Morris  $38,681
Charles C. Mann  $37,500
Wilbur E. Baugh  $36,808
Donald K. Balfour  $34,230
Paul Hartman  $31,500
Robert Lamut  $28,600
Eddie Madden  $27,300
B. Seth Harp, Jr. $27,200
Floyd M. Buford, Jr. $24,591
Edward E Boshears $23,285
John Parrish $22,000
Connie Stokes $21,090
Bill Landsen $20,150

63. In order to be competitive in Georgia State Senate contests, a candidate must raise substantial sums of money from persons, PACs or corporations with private wealth or must contribute substantial amounts from his or her own private resources, or both.

64. Substantial contributions to state senators by persons or entities with interests in legislative outcomes result in an increased public perception of corruption, which undermines the integrity of the political process.

65. Plaintiff Georgia NAACP has for decades advocated for the voting rights of African Americans. The Georgia NAACP has worked to strike down barriers to the rights of African Americans and other Georgia citizens to participate fully in the electoral process.

66. Plaintiff Georgia NAACP engages in voter registration activity throughout the state of Georgia. Through volunteers, the organization conducts voter registration drives at public places such as grocery stores, movie theaters and other retail sales locations.

67. The members of Plaintiff Georgia NAACP regularly vote in elections featuring candidates for Georgia State Senate on the ballot.

68. Most of the Georgia NAACP's membership is of low or modest income and without resources to make substantial campaign contributions. The Georgia NAACP advocates against election practices where wealth is a requirement for meaningful participation.

69. The Georgia NAACP's advocacy emphasizes equal voting rights regardless of race or economic status. Officers and members monitor the conduct of voter registration, campaigns and elections.

70. The Georgia NAACP regularly communicates with Georgia state senators about issues of political equality and social justice.

71. The current system of financing Georgia State Senate elections prevents Georgia NAACP members from meaningfully exercising their right to vote because it effectively excludes them from the wealth primary process.

72. Plaintiff Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) was founded in 1957 to combat racism, economic exploitation and inequality.

73. The SCLC advocates equal voting rights for all persons regardless of economic status. It encourages full political participation to bring about a democratic society. Voter registration is one of SCLC's primary programs.

74. SCLC members in Georgia regularly vote in elections featuring candidates for state senate on the ballot. Most of the SCLC members in Georgia are of low or modest income and without resources to make substantial campaign contributions. They are often unable to identify a candidate with whose views they agree with on contemporary issues and support a viable campaign for such a candidate.

75. The current system of financing Georgia State Senate elections prevents SCLC members from meaningfully exercising their right to vote because it effectively excludes them from the wealth primary process.

76. Plaintiff Georgia Citizens' Coalition on Hunger ("Coalition") is an organization dedicated to educating the public about the economic struggles of low-income people. The Coalition is both an advocate and catalyst for bringing about economic justice. Coalition members are mostly of low to modest income. Many are welfare recipients or low wage workers.

77. The Coalition educates its members about economic justice issues so those members can talk in an informed way with their state senators. The Coalition also organizes groups of its members to meet with state senators.

78. Coalition members appear at legislative hearings on bills critical to their members. Coalition board members frequently talk with state senators about issues of concern to low income people in Georgia. The Coalition tracks senators' votes on health, welfare, and other issues important to their members.

79. Coalition members and staff have experienced the importance of campaign contributions in getting state senators' consideration on bills, and more particularly, in gaining votes on issues impacting welfare and low income families. On several occasions state senators have told Coalition members that they give serious consideration only to people who have money to contribute.

80. The current system of financing Georgia State Senate elections prevents Coalition members from meaningfully exercising their right to vote because it effectively excludes them from the wealth primary process.

81. Plaintiff Hispanic Political Action Committee (HISPAC) was founded in 1993 to organize and educate the Hispanic Community in Georgia and increase their participation in the political system.

82. HISPAC targets its membership and services to low income Georgians. Approximately one-half of its members are low income.

83. HISPAC regularly conducts voter registration drives.

84. HISPAC monitors legislative bills impacting low income Georgians and trains its members to lobby state and local governments. HISPAC communicates with the media and state legislature on public policy matters.

85. HISPAC regularly endorses state senate candidates, and will continue to interview and endorse state senate candidates in future elections.

86. HISPAC does not make financial contributions to candidates and lacks the money to do so.

87. HISPAC has endorsed state senate candidates who lack personal wealth or access to wealth.

88. HISPAC members lacking wealth or access to wealth are often unable to support a viable campaign for a candidate for state senate whose views they agree with on contemporary issues.

89. The current system of financing Georgia State Senate elections prevents HISPAC members from meaningfully exercising their right to vote because it effectively excludes them from the wealth primary process.

90. The Georgia Rural Urban Summit ("Summit") was founded in 1994. The Summit works with low income people, grassroots organizations and community groups throughout Georgia. The Summit organizes around such issues as the environment, civil rights, health care, welfare reform and education. The Summit places particular emphasis on maximizing the participation of non- wealthy, disenfranchised and otherwise economically or politically marginalized groups and constituencies in various aspects of civic life, including public policy and non-partisan electoral participation.

91. The current system of financing Georgia State Senate elections prevents Summit members from meaningfully exercising their right to vote because it effectively excludes them from the wealth primary process.

92. Plaintiff John White represented District 161 in the Georgia House of Representatives for 22 years before running for Georgia Senate District 12 in the 1996 Democratic Primary.

93. Plaintiff White received 38.5 percent of the vote in the July 9, 1996 Democratic primary election for State Senate District 12.

94. In 1996, White raised $16,060 for his state senate campaign.

95. John White could not afford to hire campaign workers but had to rely on unpaid volunteers to work on his 1996 campaign for the State Senate District 12.

96. In 1996, Mark Taylor, Plaintiff White's opponent, won the wealth primary. Mr. Taylor received contributions of $310,874.

97. Mr. Taylor is a wealthy businessman who in 1996 contributed $90,000 to his own campaign.

98. In 1996, 98.7 percent of Mark Taylor's campaign contributions were over $200.

99. In 1996, Mr. Taylor spent $269,821.58 on his state senate campaign.

100. The majority of voters in the 12th State Senate District were unable to hear Plaintiff White's views on campaign issues due to the need of substantial wealth as a prerequisite for running a viable state senate campaign.

101. In 1996, Mr. Taylor spent $37,653 on television, and $27,653 on radio to run commercials for his state senate campaign.

102. In 1996, John White spent $115 on TV and $4,200 on radio advertisements for his state senate campaign.

103. In 1996, Plaintiff White did not have enough money to purchase a full-page newspaper advertisement. Mr. Taylor bought several full-page advertisements spending a total of $42,923.81 in 10 different newspapers that serve State Senate District 12.

104. John White plans to run for state senate in 1998.

105. Plaintiff John L. Spann has been a registered voter in Georgia since 1967. He is registered in Baker County and resides in Newton, Georgia. He is the President of the Baker County NAACP. Plaintiff Spann works as a heavy motor equipment mechanic at the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany, Georgia, where he earns a modest income.

106. Plaintiff Spann worked as a volunteer in John White's state senate campaign in 1996. He coordinated White's appearances in Baker County; arranged speaking opportunities at churches; and promoted a July 4, 1996 fundraising event for 300 people.

107. As a person of modest income, Plaintiff Spann was able to contribute only $100 to White's 1996 campaign.

108. Although Plaintiff Spann worked hard for White's campaign, White lacked the funds necessary to communicate his message to the voters of the 12th State Senate District.

109. Plaintiff Spann regularly votes in state senate elections and supports candidates whose views reflect his on contemporary issues. Plaintiff Spann suffers harm as a voter because he is effectively excluded from the wealth primary process; he is denied his constitutional right to a meaningful vote; he is prevented from hearing campaign speech from all qualified candidates; and his choices of viable candidates are limited to those able to participate in the wealth primary process.

110. Plaintiff Lewis Leary has been a registered voter in Georgia for over twenty years. He is currently registered to vote in Dougherty County and resides in Albany, Georgia. Plaintiff Leary works as a mortician in Albany, Georgia.

111. Plaintiff Leary worked in radio advertising and sales and covered politics prior to becoming a mortician. Plaintiff Leary joined John White's 1996 state senate campaign to help with media relations. Plaintiff Leary planned the campaign's newspaper and radio advertising and wrote some of the radio spots.

112. In coordinating the campaign's media, Plaintiff Leary was unable to place adequate advertising because of a shortage of money. Plaintiff Leary saw the campaign lose strength when it lacked money to purchase any television advertisements and generally lacked funds for adequate media coverage. With $16,000, John White could not purchase enough media coverage in the district to compete with Mark Taylor's media expenditures of over $45,000.

113. Plaintiff Leary is a person of modest means and contributed $50 to White's campaign in 1996. Plaintiff Leary is harmed as a voter because he is effectively excluded from the wealth primary process; he is denied his constitutional right to a meaningful vote; he is prevented from hearing campaign speech from all qualified candidates; and his choices of viable candidates are limited to those able to participate in the wealth primary process.

114. Plaintiff James Gibson is a registered voter in Calhoun County and resides in Edison, Georgia. He is Second Vice President of the Calhoun County NAACP.

115. Plaintiff Gibson is disabled and not employed. He has been a member of the Edison City Council for six years.

116. Plaintiff Gibson helped organize the Calhoun County NAACP in the early 1980s. In that capacity, he works to register voters and to increase voter participation in local and state politics.

117. Plaintiff Gibson worked on John White's 1996 state senate campaign in Calhoun County. He coordinated events for Plaintiff White; passed out literature; and worked on a radio advertisement.

118. Plaintiff Gibson saw that no matter how hard he and the other volunteers worked, White's campaign was at a serious disadvantage because it lacked money to compete with Mark Taylor's well financed campaign. Without money, White could not compete with Mr. Taylor's extensive advertising. He could not purchase television time, print large posters similar to Mr. Taylor's, nor print a multi-page insert for the local weeklies as Mr. Taylor had done.

119. Plaintiff Gibson was unable to contribute money to John White's campaign because he is a person of low income. He is harmed as a voter because he is effectively excluded from the wealth primary process; he is denied his constitutional right to a meaningful vote; he is prevented from hearing campaign speech from all qualified candidates; and his choices of viable candidates are limited to those able to participate in the wealth primary process.

120. Plaintiff Julian Holder has been a registered voter in Georgia since 1973. He is currently registered to vote in Calhoun County and resides in Edison, Georgia. He is President of the Calhoun County NAACP. Plaintiff Holder is employed and makes a modest income as a heavy equipment operator in construction.

121. Plaintiff Holder has worked for decades to register voters and increase African Americans' participation in voting and politics.

122. From 1992 to 1996, Plaintiff Holder served as a member of the Calhoun County School Board.

123. Plaintiff Holder worked as a volunteer to coordinate John White's 1996 state senate campaign in Calhoun County. He helped to organize campaign appearances and distribute campaign literature. He accompanied John White on a campaign bus tour across the multi-county district. He worked to get out the vote on election day and personally took voters to the polls.

124. Plaintiff Holder and other unpaid volunteers could not match the efforts of Mark Taylor's many paid campaign workers and his multi-faceted media campaign.

125. Plaintiff Holder observed that without money for an adequate media campaign, John White's message could not even reach voters who Plaintiff Holder knew had previously supported Plaintiff White.

126. In 1992, Plaintiff Holder worked on Charles Sherrod's state senate campaign. Plaintiff Sherrod challenged Mark Taylor in that race. Despite Plaintiff Holder's hard work, volunteers could not match the paid staff and media purchases used in Mr. Taylor's campaign. Plaintiff Sherrod's campaign also lacked sufficient money to compete with Mr. Taylor's $59,000 campaign.

127. Plaintiff Holder is a person of modest income and has been able to give only small contributions to the senate campaigns of John White and Charles Sherrod. Plaintiff Holder is harmed as a voter because he is effectively excluded from the wealth primary process; he is denied his constitutional right to a meaningful vote; he is prevented from hearing campaign speech from all qualified candidates; and his choices of viable candidates are limited to those able to participate in the wealth primary process.

128. Plaintiff William Clark has been a registered voter in Georgia since 1957. He is registered to vote in Randolph County and resides in Arlington, Georgia. Plaintiff Clark is retired.

129. Plaintiff Clark was elected to the Arlington City Council in 1993 and continues to serve on it. He has worked for years to increase voting and political participation among African Americans in Georgia. Plaintiff Clark is a deputy registrar who personally registered 200 voters in 1996.

130. Plaintiff Clark worked on John White's 1996 state senate campaign. Clark helped to coordinate voter rallies and events in the cities of Morgan and Arlington. On election day, he drove voters to the polls in his truck.

131. Plaintiff Clark's hard work for John White could not overcome the campaign's lack of money. Plaintiff Clark saw how John White lacked visibility on television and how people were not able to hear his platform.

132. Plaintiff Clark is harmed as a voter because he is effectively excluded from the wealth primary process; he is denied his constitutional right to a meaningful vote; he is prevented from hearing campaign speech from all qualified candidates; and his choices of viable candidates are limited to those able to participate in the wealth primary process.

133. Plaintiff Charles Sherrod, who was a candidate for state senate in 1992, is a Chaplain at the Georgia State Prison in Homerville and makes a modest income. Plaintiff Sherrod was one of the first African Americans elected to the Albany City Commission in 1976 where he served until 1990.

134. Although Plaintiff Sherrod differed significantly from his opponent, Mark Taylor, voters were not sufficiently informed about these differences because Plaintiff Sherrod had limited resources.

135. Plaintiff Sherrod received 32 percent of the vote in the July 21, 1996 Democratic primary.

136. In 1992, Plaintiff Sherrod received campaign contributions totaling $12,000. He raised money at mass meetings, house meetings and from individuals.

137. Mark Taylor, Charles Sherrod's opponent, won the wealth primary. He received contributions of $59,805, including $1,800 he personally contributed. Mr. Taylor spent $47,053.83 on the primary race.

138. Mr. Taylor's greater resources enabled him to purchase extensive television, radio, and newspaper advertising throughout the district. Plaintiff Sherrod was able to purchase only one television advertisement and limited radio and newspaper advertisements.

139. The majority of voters in the 12th State Senate District were unable to hear Plaintiff White's views on campaign issues due to the need of substantial wealth as a prerequisite for running a viable state senate campaign.

140. Mr. Taylor paid numerous campaign workers throughout the district. Plaintiff Sherrod did not have the resources to compete with Mr. Taylor's substantial sums of money and had to depend on unpaid volunteers as campaign workers.

141. Mark Taylor ran unopposed for state senate in 1994. Mr. Taylor raised $21,000 during the 1994 election cycle.

142. In 1996, Plaintiff Sherrod supported John White's state senate campaign. Plaintiff Sherrod contacted voters for White and distributed literature. As a person of modest income, he was unable to contribute more than a small amount to John White's campaign.

143. Plaintiff Sherrod observed how White could not compete with Taylor's expensive media campaign because Taylor had the advantage of substantial personal funds and wealthy supporters.

144. Plaintiff Sherrod is harmed as a voter because he is effectively excluded from the wealth primary process; he is denied his constitutional right to a meaningful vote; he is prevented from hearing campaign speech from all qualified candidates; and his choices of viable candidates are limited to those able to participate in the wealth primary process.

145. Plaintiff Jerrie Lynn Peevy has gained considerable experience in politics and political finance through running campaigns of candidates for Superior Court, Solicitor, Georgia State Senate and United States Congress over two decades.

146. Plaintiff Peevy received 31.2 percent of the vote in the November 8, 1994 general election for State Senate District 48.

147. In 1994, Plaintiff Peevy raised $26,016 for her state senate campaign.

148. In 1994, Clint Day, Plaintiff Peevy's opponent, won the wealth primary. Mr. Day received contributions of $101,244.

149. Mr. Day is a wealthy businessman. In 1992, Day raised $110,691 and spent $106,743 to win the wealth primary against his main opponent in the republican primary, Mark D. Merritt. In 1992, Merritt raised $40,912 for his state senate campaign.

150. In 1994, over one dozen supporters who contributed between $200 to $2,000 each to Don Peevy's campaigns during the 1980s declined to contribute to Jerrie Lynn Peevy's campaign because Day's campaign had extensive financial backing.

151. In 1994, Mr. Day contributed $15,500 of his own money to his state senate campaign.

152. Mr. Day carried forward $40,158 from campaign funds not used in his 1992 race for state senate to his 1994 state senate campaign.

153. In 1994, Day received numerous campaign contributions in amounts over $200 from family members.

154. In 1994, Day loaned $30,000 to his campaign, and subsequently paid himself back with surplus campaign funds.

155. In 1994, Mr. Day spent over $100,000 on his state senate campaign.

156. The majority of voters in State Senate District 48 were unable to hear Plaintiff Peevy's views on campaign issues due to the need of substantial wealth substantial wealth as a prerequisite for running a viable state senate campaign.

157. In 1994, Plaintiff Peevy attempted to engage her opponent in public debate on policy issues, but Day chose not participate in public debates and instead relied on multi-media advertising and mass mailings to expand his name recognition. During the 1994 campaign, Day appeared at only one event to debate Peevy, sponsored by the Georgia Medical Association, but it was closed to journalists.

158. Plaintiff John Elliott is a registered voter in Gwinnett County and resides in Duluth, Georgia. He is a small businessman and makes a modest income.

159. As a parent, Plaintiff Elliott is concerned about education and the environmental health of his community.

160. In 1994, Elliott supported Jerrie Lynn Peevy for state senate. Because he is a person of modest income, Plaintiff Elliott could only contribute $25 to Peevy's campaign.

161. In 1996, Elliott decided to enter the race for State Senate District 48 one week before the qualification deadline. Plaintiff Elliott decided to run for state senate because he could not identify any candidate with whose views he agrees on issues of the environment and education, and he believed that Clint Day, who previously served as state senator, performed poorly during the 1994 - 1996 session of the Georgia General Assembly.

162. Plaintiff Elliott received 30 percent of the vote in District 48 in the general election on November 5, 1996.

163. In 1996, Plaintiff Elliott raised campaign contributions totaling $6,684. He raised money at church meetings and from individuals, local groups and union affiliates.

164. In 1996, William Ray II, John Elliott's opponent, won the wealth primary. He raised contributions of $89,526 and spent $79,669 on the race for the senate seat.

165. Plaintiff Elliott regularly votes in elections that feature candidates for Georgia State Senate on the ballot and supports candidates whose views reflect his on contemporary issues.

166. Plaintiff Elliott suffers harm as a voter because he is effectively excluded from the wealth primary process; he is denied his constitutional right to a meaningful vote; he is prevented from hearing campaign speech from all qualified candidates; and his choices of viable candidates are limited to those able to effectively participate in the wealth primary process.

167. Plaintiff Suzanne Britt has been a registered voter in Georgia since 1980. She is currently registered to vote in Gwinnett County and resides in Duluth, Georgia. Plaintiff Britt is a tax specialist for Dekalb County.

168. Plaintiff Britt was elected to the Duluth City Council in 1992 and re-elected in 1994. In 1996, Britt ran for Gwinnett County Commission and lost to an opponent who raised over $300,000.

169. Plaintiff Britt supported Jerrie Lynn Peevy's 1994 campaign for state senate. As a city council member, Britt publicly endorsed Peevy. As a person of modest income, Plaintiff Britt contributed less than $50 to Peevy's campaign. Plaintiff Britt saw how Peevy lacked visibility in the media and people were not able to hear her platform.

170. In 1996, Britt supported John Elliott's state senate campaign. Britt publicly endorsed Elliott and contributed less than $50 to his campaign.

171. Plaintiff Britt has considered running for Georgia State Senate but will not because of the high costs required to run a viable state senate campaign and the time and effort necessary for someone who is not wealthy or has access to wealth to raise enough contributions to run such a campaign.

172. Plaintiff Britt is harmed as a voter because she is effectively excluded from the wealth primary process; she is denied her constitutional right to a meaningful vote; she is prevented from hearing campaign speech from all qualified candidates; and her choices of viable candidates are limited to those able to participate in the wealth primary process.

173. Plaintiff Clinton M. Marsh is a registered voter and a resident of Atlanta, Georgia. He is a member of the Governing Board of Common Cause/Georgia. In observing and lobbying the Georgia Assembly, he has rarely seen the interests of people of low income represented by state senators. Plaintiff Marsh's experience, as an advocate for low income people and people of color, demonstrates that the dominant role of money in campaigns has led to a legislature unconcerned with the issues facing low income persons.

174. Plaintiff Marsh's choice of candidates is severely limited because of the high costs of running a viable Georgia State Senate campaign.

175. Plaintiff Marsh is the Founder and Chairman of Georgians United Against Gun Violence and regularly lobbies the Georgia Senate on those issues.

176. In the Georgia State Senate elections held over the past decade, Plaintiff Marsh has been unable to identify and support a candidate running for state senate in the district where Marsh resides whose views he agrees with on contemporary issues.

177. The wealth primary in Georgia State Senate elections effectively limits the choice of candidates from which Plaintiff Marsh may choose on an election ballot because in order to be a viable candidate one must have wealth or access to wealth.

178. Plaintiff Marsh is harmed as a voter because he is denied his constitutional right to a meaningful vote; he is prevented from hearing campaign speech from all qualified candidates; and his choices of viable candidates are limited to those able to participate in the wealth primary process.

179. The Georgia State Senate election process is an exclusively public function. Defendants Georgia State Senate and House of Representatives, through their legislative actions and choices, and Defendant Secretary of State, through his administration and oversight of Georgia elections, have effectively established and maintained the exclusionary wealth primary in state senate elections.

180. Plaintiff Sherrod and the individual voter plaintiffs named above in paragraph 12, with the exception of Plaintiff Marsh, lack sufficient disposable income to contribute sums to help mount a viable state senate campaign nor do they have access to wealth that would enable them to do so.

181. Plaintiff Sherrod and the individual voter plaintiffs named above in paragraph 12, with the exception of Plaintiff Marsh, cannot contribute sufficient money to a candidate whom they support to enable him or her to conduct a viable state senate campaign. As voters lacking personal wealth or access to wealth, they are effectively excluded from the critical wealth primary process for the election of Georgia State senators.

182. The facts alleged regarding recent campaigns in State Senate Districts 12 and 48 reflect a pattern and practice of electoral discrimination against voters and candidates based on their economic status. These facts demonstrate how money dominates the electoral process in Georgia State Senate elections and excludes non-wealthy voters and candidates from meaningful participation in that process.

183. The wealth primary system relies on contributions from lobbyists, corporations, PACs, and wealthy individuals to finance the campaigns and influence elections. This system gives affluent contributors the power to effectively place names on the ballot, whether or not the potential candidate has widespread popular support.

184. The substantial costs of a state senate campaign are well known across the state of Georgia. The wealth primary discourages qualified candidates without wealth or wealthy supporters from running for the Georgia State Senate.

185. Because the wealth primary creates barriers to candidate access to the ballot, it limits the field of candidates from which voters can choose. In Georgia, this barrier to a wide choice of candidates falls more heavily on nonwealthy voters because they cannot make the large contributions to fund a viable campaign, no matter how qualified their candidate may be.

186. Defendants Georgia State Senate and House of Representatives, as a matter of legislative choice and practice, have maintained this system where wealthy individuals, businesses, and PACs alike control who can run and ultimately get elected to the Georgia State Senate. The absence of an alternative method for nonwealthy voters to support and choose their candidates results in a system which uses wealth as a criterion for being on the ballot and for fully participating in the electoral process.

187. The wealth primary in Georgia's state senate elections threatens the integrity and the appearance of integrity of the Georgia State Senate.

COUNT 1, FEDERAL EQUAL PROTECTION

188. Plaintiffs repeat and re-allege paragraphs 1 through 187 as if fully set forth herein.

189. Defendants' effective establishment, endorsement, administration and maintenance of the wealth primary to elect state senators violates the plaintiff voters' right to vote, including their right to equal and meaningful participation in the electoral process, as guaranteed by the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and 42 U.S.C. s.1983.

190. Defendants' administration and endorsement of the wealth primary to elect state senators violates Plaintiffs White, Sherrod and Peevy's right to meaningful and equal participation in the electoral process as candidates, as guaranteed by the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and 42 U.S.C. s.1983.

COUNT 2, FIRST AMENDMENT

191. Plaintiffs repeat and re-allege paragraphs 1 through 181 as if fully set forth herein.

192. The exclusionary wealth primary unlawfully burdens Plaintiffs' First Amendment rights under the United States Constitution to freedom of expression on views at issue in Georgia State Senate campaigns; to freedom of association as nonwealthy voters who do not have an opportunity to support a candidate as a rallying point for their views related to legislative issues; and to cast a meaningful vote for the candidate of their choice.

COUNT 3, EQUAL PROTECTION, GEORGIA CONSTITUTION

193. Plaintiffs repeat and re-allege paragraphs 1 through 181 as if fully set forth herein.

194. Defendants' effective establishment, endorsement administration and maintenance of the wealth primary to elect state senators violates Plaintiff voters' right to vote, including their right to equal and meaningful participation in the electoral process under the equal protection guarantees of the Georgia Constitution, art. I, s. 1, Para. 2.

195. Defendants' administration and endorsement of the wealth primary to elect Georgia State senators violates Plaintiffs White, Sherrod and Peevy's right to meaningful and equal participation in the electoral process as candidates, under the equal protection guarantees of the Georgia Constitution, art. I, s. 1, Para. 2.

COUNT 4, FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND ASSOCIATION, GEORGIA CONSTITUTION

196. Plaintiffs repeat and re-allege paragraphs 1 through 181 as if fully set forth herein.

197. The exclusionary wealth primary unlawfully burdens Plaintiffs' rights under the Georgia Constitution, art. I, s. 1, to freedom of expression on views at issue in state senate campaigns; and to freedom of association as nonwealthy voters who do not have an opportunity to support a candidate as a rallying point for their views related to legislative issues.

RELIEF

Plaintiffs pray this Court to enter the following relief:

1. A declaratory judgment that the exclusionary wealth primary in Georgia State Senate elections:
a. violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution;
b. violates the First Amendment of the United States Constitution;
c. violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Georgia Constitution; and
d. violates the freedom of speech and freedom of association guarantees of the Georgia Constitution.

2. An order enjoining Defendants from administering the wealth primary for election of Georgia State senators without providing remedial measures that reduce the dominance of wealth in Georgia State Senate elections and provide an alternative public source of financing as well as meaningful contribution limits to enable non-wealthy voters and candidates to participate on an equal and meaningful basis in the state senate election process and to be heard in that process.

3. An award of attorneys' fees and costs under the Civil Rights Attorneys' Fees Awards Act, 42 U.S.C. s. 1988.

4. Any other relief the Court may find just and proper.

November ____, 1997

Respectfully submitted,
 
/s/LUIS A. TORRES, Esq.
/s/JOHN C. BONIFAZ, Esq.
/s/BRENDA WRIGHT, Esq.
National Voting Rights Institute
401 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts 02215
(617) 867-0740
FAX (617) 867-0741
 
JOHN CLARK, Esq. (GA Bar No.307369)
General Counsel, Georgia NAACP
Vice-President, Georgia Alliance of African-American Attorneys
P.O. Box 752
Elberton, Georgia 30635
(706)283-9732
FAX (706) 283-0659
 
ROXANNE GREGORY, Esq.
General Counsel, SCLC
334 Auburn Avenue, NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30312
(404) 584-6111
FAX (404) 659-7390
 
Attorneys for Plaintiffs
Of Counsel: Dennis C. Hayes, Esq.
Willie Abrams, Esq.
Office of General Counsel
NAACP 4805 Mt. Hope Drive
Baltimore, Maryland 21215-3297
(410) 486-9180