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Brian Kemp

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Brian Kemp
David Perdue and Brian Kemp (cropped).jpg
Governor-elect of Georgia
Assuming office
January 14, 2019
LieutenantGeoff Duncan (elect)
SucceedingNathan Deal
27th Secretary of State of Georgia
In office
January 8, 2010 – November 8, 2018
GovernorSonny Perdue
Nathan Deal
Preceded byKaren Handel
Succeeded byRobyn Crittenden (acting)
Member of the Georgia Senate
from the 46th district
In office
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2007
Preceded byDoug Haines
Succeeded byBill Cowsert
Personal details
BornBrian Porter Kemp
(1963-11-02) November 2, 1963 (age 55)
Athens, Georgia, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Marty Argo
Children3
EducationUniversity of Georgia (BS)

Brian Porter Kemp (born November 2, 1963) is an American politician and businessman. He is currently the Governor-elect of Georgia, who served as the 27th Secretary of State of Georgia from 2010 to 2018. Kemp was appointed by then-Governor Sonny Perdue to succeed Karen Handel when she stepped down to run in the 2010 Georgia gubernatorial election. He was later elected to the position in 2010 and reelected in 2014.

Kemp's oversight of elections and election data as Secretary of State has stirred controversy and accusations of abusing power leading up to the current election. In 2015, Kemp's office erroneously distributed the Social Security numbers and dates of birth of registered Georgia voters.[1] During the 2016 election, Kemp was the only state official to reject help from the Department of Homeland Security to guard against Russian interference.[2] Kemp also encountered criticism from voting rights advocates; from 2012 to 2018, Kemp's office canceled more than 1.4 million voter registrations, and during the 2018 election, Kemp held up more than 53,000 voter registration applications, with nearly 70% of the voter registrations belonging to African Americans.[3] He is currently the Republican nominee for Governor of Georgia in the 2018 gubernatorial election, while simultaneously continuing to serve as the Secretary of State for which he is responsible for overseeing the voter registration rolls and vetting the 2018 election results.

While running for governor, Kemp has been widely accused of voter suppression.[4] He removed more than half a million voter registrations (8 percent of registered Georgia voters) from voter rolls under the pretense that they had moved out of state. An independent analysis of the voters found that of the 534,000 voters who were purged, 334,134 still lived at the same address. Only around 41,000 of those purged had actually moved out of state. The remaining removed voters received notices that their voter registration would be removed due to not voting in the past two federal elections. These voters failed to respond to these messages, and were removed. They were qualified to re-register assuming they still lived in Georgia, and they have not died.[5][6][7][8]

Critics have described Kemp's actions as causing severe democratic backsliding in the state of Georgia, with legal scholar Richard L. Hasen describing his administration of the 2018 governor's election as "perhaps the most outrageous example of election administration partisanship in the modern era."[9]

Early life and education

Kemp was born in Athens, Georgia, the son of William L. Kemp II. Kemp's grandfather, Julian H. Cox Sr., was a member of the Georgia Legislature.[10] Kemp graduated from Athens Academy in 1983.[11][12] He later graduated from the University of Georgia, where he majored in agriculture.[10]

Career

Kemp was a home builder and developer before entering politics.[10]

Political career

He served as a Georgia State Senator from 2003 to 2007 after defeating the Democratic incumbent, Doug Haines.[13] In 2006, Kemp ran for Agriculture Commissioner of Georgia. He came second in the primary,[14] but he lost the runoff to Gary Black.[15] Kemp initially declared intent to run for State Senate District 47 when incumbent Ralph Hudgens planned to run for Congress in Georgia's 10th congressional district. Hudgens withdrew and ran for reelection, changing Kemp's plans.[16]

Georgia Secretary of State

In early 2010 Kemp was appointed to Georgia Secretary of State by then-Governor Sonny Perdue.[17] Kemp won the 2010 election for a full term as Georgia Secretary of State with 56.4% of the vote, to 39.4% for his Democratic opponent, Georganna Sinkfield.[18] Four years later, Kemp was reelected.

Kemp rejects the conclusion by the United States Intelligence Community that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.[19] Amid Russian interference in the 2016 election, Kemp denounced efforts by the Obama administration to strengthen the security of election systems, including improving access to federal cybersecurity assistance.[19] He denounced the Obama administration's efforts, saying they were an assault on states' rights.[19]

Kemp resigned as Secretary of State in preparation of transitioning to Governor, prior to the race being called in his favor.[20]

Federal efforts to secure state voting systems

As evidence mounted that Russian hackers were attempting to disrupt the 2016 elections, President Obama directed Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to work with states to secure their voting systems as "critical infrastructure." Kemp was the only state election official who declined the help.[2] In a 2017 interview, Kemp denounced the effort as an assault on states' rights, stating, "I think it was a politically calculated move by the previous administration," adding "I don’t necessarily believe" Russia had attempted to disrupt the elections.[21][22] In August 2016, amid Russian attempts to disrupt the 2016 elections, Kemp said that an intrusion by Russian hackers into voting systems was "not probable at all, the way our systems are set up" and accused federal officials of exaggerating the threat of Russian interference.[23]

Georgia is only one of fourteen states which uses electronic voting machines which do not produce a paper record, which election integrity experts say leaves the elections vulnerable to tampering and technical problems.[24] The 2018 indictment against Russian hackers (as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into 2016 interference) said that the Russian hackers targeted county websites in Georgia.[2]

In December 2016, Kemp accused DHS of attempting to hack his office's computer network, including the voter registration database, implying that it was retribution for his previous refusal to work with DHS. A DHS inspector general investigation found there was no hacking, but rather it was "the result of normal and automatic computer message exchanges generated by the Microsoft applications involved."[25][24]

Exposure of personal voter data

In October 2015, the Georgia Secretary of State's office, under Kemp's leadership, erroneously distributed personal data (including Social Security numbers and dates of birth) of 6.2 million registered Georgia voters. This data breach occurred when the office sent out a CD with this information to 12 organizations that purchase monthly voter lists from the office. The office was not aware of the breach until the following month and did not publicly acknowledge the mishap until the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported the class action lawsuit against the office as a result of the data breach.[1] Within a month of the breach becoming publicly known, it had cost taxpayers $1.2 million in credit monitoring services for those whose data had been compromised, and $395,000 for an audit into Kemp's handling of the unauthorized data disclosure.[26]

Voting rights controversies

Between 2012 and 2018, Kemp's office cancelled over 1.4 million voter registrations, with nearly 700,000 cancellations in 2017 alone.[6] By early October 2018, more than 53,000 voter registration applications were on hold by Kemp's office, with nearly 70% of the voter registrations belonging to blacks.[6] No state has been more aggressive in removing registered voters from vote rolls for not voting in consecutive elections; on a single day in July 2017, Kemp's office removed more than 500,000 registered Georgia voters from voter rolls (approximately 8 percent of Georgia's registered voters).[7] Kemp oversaw the removals himself, and did so eight months after he declared that he was going to run for governor.[7] An investigative journalism group run by Greg Palast found that of the approximately 534,000 Georgians whose voter registrations were purged between 2016 and 2017 more than 334,000 still lived where they were registered.[8]

Kemp has frequently been accused of voter suppression.[27][28] In August 2018, Emory University professor Carol Anderson criticized Kemp as an "enemy of democracy" and "an expert in voter suppression" for his actions as Secretary of State, writing that Kemp had kept 35,000 people off voter rolls, many of them from minority groups.[29] His accused tactics included kicking people off voter rolls for an errant hyphen or if "a stray letter or a typographical error on someone’s voter registration card didn’t match the records of the state’s driver’s license bureau or the Social Security office."[29] African-Americans counted for 66% of the rejected voters.[30] On a recording made by a progressive group he can be heard saying "Democrats are working hard, registering all these minority voters that are out there and others that are sitting on the sidelines."[29] Kemp denies that he engages in voter suppression.[6]

2018 gubernatorial campaign

Primary campaign

In March 2017, Kemp announced his candidacy in the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election.[31] In a field of six candidates, Kemp and Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle came in the two top places in a six-way Republican primary in May 2018, advancing to a runoff election.[32]

During the runoff campaign, Cagle sought to portray Kemp as an incompetent Secretary of State, whereas Kemp sought to portray Cagle as scandal-prone and corrupt.[33] During the primary and primary runoff campaigns, Kemp ran sharply to Cagle's right, benefiting from provocative campaign advertising (with a tag line "Yep, I just said that"), as well as by a endorsement from President Donald Trump late in the campaign, which Trump made at the request of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.[34] In the runoff election, Kemp was endorsed by the GeorgiaCarry.org and the Family Research Council as well as by Republican candidates who were eliminated in the primary, Michael Williams, Clay Tippins, and Hunter Hill.[35] Many believe Perdue's support for Kemp was in response to Governor Nathan Deal's endorsement of Cagle.[34]

In the runoff election, Kemp defeated Cagle by a broad margin, receiving 408,595 votes (69.45%) to Cagle's 179,712 (30.55%).[36]

General election campaign

Kemp is running against Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams, the minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives, in the general election. During the gubernatorial campaign, Kemp has embraced Trump-like policies and themes.[35][37][38] Kemp is running on a policy of imposing a state spending cap,[39] opposing Medicaid expansion,[40] and implementing the "strictest" abortion laws in the country.[41] Kemp favors repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), describing it as "an absolute disaster," and supports litigation seeking to eliminate the law's protections for persons with a pre-existing condition.[42] He has said he would sign a bill of "religious freedom and restoration", vetoed twice by governor Nathan Deal, which would allow refusal of contraception to women or services to LGBT couples on the basis of religious beliefs.[43]

Kemp provoked controversy with a television campaign ad in which he held a shotgun in the direction of a young man playing someone interested in dating one of Kemp’s daughters. This attracted criticism from the National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence, which said that the ad "delivers a message perpetuating domestic violence and misogyny while modeling egregiously unsafe behavior," and prompted criticism that the ad depicted irresponsible handling of guns.[44][45] Kemp's supporters, by contrast, viewed the campaign ad as a "lighthearted portrayal of a protective, gun-wielding Southern father vetting a potential suitor" and Kemp dismissed the criticism, telling critics to "Get over it."[44]

During the 2018 campaign, former president Jimmy Carter,[46] as well as a number of Georgia-based organizations, such as the Georgia NAACP and Georgia Common Cause, called upon Kemp to resign as Secretary of State while running for governor, thus ensuring that he would not be overseeing his own election. Kemp has declined to do so.[47]

Almost a week before election day, Kemp cancelled a scheduled debate so that he could instead attend a Trump rally in Georgia. Kemp blamed Abrams for the cancellation, saying that she was unwilling to reschedule it. The date of the debate had been agreed-upon since mid-September.[48]

Two days before the election, Kemp's office announced that it was investigating the Georgia Democratic Party for unspecified "possible cybercrimes"; the Georgia Democratic Party stated that "Kemp's scurrilous claims are 100 percent false" and described them as a "political stunt."[49]

Personal life

Kemp is married to Marty Kemp (née Argo); they have three daughters. The family belongs to the Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Athens.[50] Kemp's father-in-law was Bob Argo (1923–2016), an Athens insurance executive and longtime member of the Georgia House of Representatives.[51]

In October 2018, Atlanta television station WAGA-TV reported that companies owned by Kemp owed more than $800,000 in loans to a community bank where he is a founding board member and stockholder. Such "insider loans" are legal, so long as they are on the same terms as the bank would extend to any other lender. Kemp's campaign declined to make public the terms of the loan.[52]

Electoral history

Georgia State Senate 46th District Election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Brian Kemp 17,504 50.7
Democratic Doug Haines (inc.) 17,015 49.3
Georgia State Senate 46th District Election, 2004
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Brian Kemp (inc.) 29,424 51.6
Democratic Becky Vaughn 27,617 48.4
Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Republican Primary Election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Gary Black 153,568 42
Republican Brian Kemp 97,113 27
Republican Bob Greer 57,813 16
Republican Deana Strickland 54,318 15
Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Republican Primary Runoff Election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Gary Black 101,274 60
Republican Brian Kemp 67,509 40
Georgia Secretary of State Republican Primary Election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Brian Kemp 361,304 59.2
Republican Doug MacGinnitie 248,911 40.8
Georgia Secretary of State Election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Brian Kemp 1,440,188 56.4
Democratic Georganna Sinkfield 1,006,411 39.4
Libertarian David Chastain 106,123 4.2
Georgia Secretary of State Election, 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Brian Kemp (inc.) 1,452,554 57.47
Democratic Doreen Carter 1,075,101 42.53
Georgia Gubernatorial Republican Primary Election, 2018
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Casey Cagle 236,498 39.0
Republican Brian Kemp 154,913 25.5
Republican Hunter Hill 111,207 18.3
Republican Clay Tippins 74,053 12.2
Republican Michael Williams 29,544 4.9
Republican Eddie Hayes 739 0.1
Georgia Gubernatorial Republican Primary Runoff Election, 2018
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Brian Kemp 406,638 69.45
Republican Casey Cagle 178,877 30.55
Georgia Gubernatorial Election, 2018
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Brian Kemp 1,978,408 50.22
Democratic Stacey Abrams 1,923,685 48.83
Libertarian Ted Metz 37,235 0.95

References

  1. ^ a b "Georgia voters to get credit monitoring in massive data breach". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. December 11, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c "Was Georgia's Election System Hacked in 2016?". POLITICO Magazine. Retrieved 2018-08-16.
  3. ^ "Voting Rights Become A Flashpoint In Georgia Governor's Race". Associated Press. Retrieved October 9, 2018.
  4. ^ "Brian Kemp's Lead in Georgia Needs an Asterisk". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2018-11-09.
  5. ^ https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/georgia-election-was-fair-brian-kemp-beat-stacy-abrams/
  6. ^ a b c d "Voting rights become a flashpoint in Georgia governor's race". Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-10-11.
  7. ^ a b c "Georgia purged an estimated 107,000 people largely for not voting, an APM Reports investigation shows". Retrieved 2018-10-19.
  8. ^ a b Durkin, Erin (2018-10-19). "GOP candidate improperly purged 340,000 from Georgia voter rolls, investigation claims". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-10-19.
  9. ^ Leonhardt, David (November 5, 2018). "An Appalling Abuse of Power". The New York Times. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  10. ^ a b c Jennifer Brett (October 13, 2018). "'Solid': Republican Brian Kemp plays up rural roots, business bonafides". Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  11. ^ Ford, Wayne. "Athens Academy observes 50th anniversary". Athens Banner-Herald. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  12. ^ "Alums Kalupe Booze '11 and Joe Tillman '87 Lead Middle School Spartans to Championship". Athens Academy. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  13. ^ "Ourcampaigns.com". Ourcampaigns.com. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  14. ^ "Ourcampaigns.com". Ourcampaigns.com. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  15. ^ "Ourcampaigns.com". Ourcampaigns.com. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  16. ^ "Peachpundit.com". peachpundit.com. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
  17. ^ "georgiatrend.com". Georgiatrend.com. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
  18. ^ "GA – Election Results". Georgia Secretary of State. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  19. ^ a b c "Obama's secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin's election assault". Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-07-25.
  20. ^ http://sos.ga.gov/index.php/general/secretary_kemp_tenders_resignation_to_governor_deal
  21. ^ "Obama's secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin's election assault". Washington Post. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  22. ^ "U.S. Says Russia Directed Hacks to Influence Elections". Retrieved 2018-08-16.
  23. ^ "Is Georgia's voting system safe from hackers?". politics.myajc. Retrieved 2018-08-16.
  24. ^ a b "Election Security Becomes A Political Issue In Georgia Governor's Race". NPR.org. Retrieved 2018-08-16.
  25. ^ Uchill, Joe (27 June 2017). "Investigation shows DHS did not hack Georgia computers". Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  26. ^ "The Georgia taxpayer cost for Brian Kemp's data breach is starting to mount". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. December 15, 2015.
  27. ^ "Ga. election official off base on election interference". @politifact. Retrieved 2018-10-11.
  28. ^ "Georgia secretary of state fighting accusations of disenfranchising minority voters". mcclatchydc. Retrieved 2018-10-11.
  29. ^ a b c Carol Anderson (August 11, 2018). "Brian Kemp, Enemy of Democracy". New York Times.
  30. ^ "More Than 380,000 Georgia Voters Receive 'Purge Notice'". Rewire. Retrieved 2018-08-12.
  31. ^ Georgia 2018: Brian Kemp enters race for governor, Atlanta Journal-Constitution (March 31, 2017).
  32. ^ Sean Sullivan, Cagle and Kemp advance to Republican runoff for Georgia governor, Washington Post (May 22, 2018).
  33. ^ "'My enemy is not a man': Ex-gubernatorial candidate has 'mission' to damage Cagle". McClatchyDC. Retrieved 2018-07-16.
  34. ^ a b Donald Trump on Brian Kemp pick: 'I did that for Sonny Perdue' (September 5, 2018). "Perdue-Kemp-Trump Endorsement". Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  35. ^ a b Bluestein, Greg (July 18, 2018). "Trump endorses Brian Kemp in Georgia GOP gov race". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved July 18, 2018.
  36. ^ Georgia Secretary of State 2018 runoff election results
  37. ^ Curt Devine and Drew Griffin (August 14, 2018). "6 million Georgia voters' records exposed: 'Could have easily been compromised'". CNN. Trump-style Republican candidate for governor Brian Kemp
  38. ^ Greg Bluestein, Kemp was asked what he’d tell voters 'struggling with Trump.' Here’s what he said, Atlanta Journal-Constitution (September 25, 2018).
  39. ^ James Salzer, New Georgia governor will work with a far different economy than Deal, Atlanta Journal-Constitution (July 9, 2018).
  40. ^ Medicaid expansion question fuels Georgia governor’s race, Atlanta Journal-Constitution (September 5, 2018).
  41. ^ Greg Bluestein, Kemp vows to outdo Mississippi and sign nation’s ‘toughest’ abortion law, Atlanta Journal-Constitution (March 20, 2018).
  42. ^ Tony Pugh (July 19, 2018). "Will Southern voters be swayed by Democrats' health care attacks on GOP?". McClatchydc.
  43. ^ "Kemp says he would sign anti-gay legislation". December 5, 2017.
  44. ^ a b Samantha Schmidt (May 2, 2018). "Georgia governor candidate aims gun at teen in campaign ad. 'Get over it,' he tells critics". Washington Post.
  45. ^ "Georgia gubernatorial candidate takes heat for ad where he points shotgun toward teen". USA Today. May 1, 2018.
  46. ^ Eli Watkins, Jimmy Carter calls for Brian Kemp to resign as GA secretary of state, CNN (October 30, 2018).
  47. ^ Vanessa Williams (August 8, 2018). "Georgia groups call on GOP gubernatorial nominee Brian Kemp to step down as the state's elections chief". The Washington Post.
  48. ^ "Final Debate in Georgia Governor's Race Canceled as Republican Breaks Schedule". Retrieved 2018-11-01.
  49. ^ Samuels, Brett (2018-11-04). "Kemp's office opens investigation into Georgia Democrats for 'possible cybercrimes'". TheHill. Retrieved 2018-11-04.
  50. ^ "Brian P. Kemp". Office of the Secretary of State of Georgia.
  51. ^ "Robert 'Bob' Argo, 92: Lawmaker was 'all Georgian, all the time'". Atlanta Journal Constitution. July 13, 2016.
  52. ^ Dale Russell (October 24, 2018). "Brian Kemp owes more than $800,000 in insider loans to bank he helped start". WAGA-TV.

External links

Georgia State Senate
Preceded by
Doug Haines
Member of the Georgia State Senate
from the 46th district

2003–2007
Succeeded by
Bill Cowsert
Political offices
Preceded by
Karen Handel
Secretary of State of Georgia
2010–2018
Succeeded by
Robyn Crittenden
Acting
Preceded by
Nathan Deal
Governor of Georgia
Elect

Taking office 2019
Elect
Party political offices
Preceded by
Karen Handel
Republican nominee for Secretary of State of Georgia
2010, 2014
Succeeded by
Brad Raffensperger
Preceded by
Nathan Deal
Republican nominee for Governor of Georgia
2018
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