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15 January 2013

Georgia Democrat Activist Says Party Would Rather Build Bureaucracy Than Win Elections, Then Resigns

In the past twelve months, the Democratic Party of Georgia has seen members of its executive committee resign for several reasons; some reasons named, some not.

The email I bring before you today is the resignation letter of former Fourth Congressional District Chairman Linda Edmonds.

Linda Edmonds is a longtime Democratic Party activist who donated money to the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and John Edwards; contributed funds to the U.S. Senate campaign of Jim Martin; and gave freely to other Democratic Party organizations, including the Democratic Party of Georgia itself.

Edmonds, in her resignation letter, cited bureaucratic red-tape and obfuscation from paid Party staff as reasons why she no longer wished to hold a seat on the state Democratic executive committee.

"In the last few months, four Congressional District Chairs have resigned (2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 11th); I now become the fifth," Edmonds wrote. "I have diligently urged the DPG to simply stick to the bylaws, thereby earn the trust of potential donors as well as grassroots workers, and lead to electing more Democrats to public office. It is clear my efforts have been wasted, and it’s time for me to apply my energy elsewhere."

Below is Linda Edmonds' resignation letter to Party chairman Mike Berlon:

January 27, 2012

Dear Mike:

As a now-former major DPG contributor said in January 2007, “The main thing Georgia Democrats have to fear is Georgia Democrats.” He further stated, “In much of Georgia, many voters today will simply not even contemplate voting for someone with “Democrat” beside their name. THAT is the main issue.” He cautioned against wishing to make the Party and elected officials separate, with liberal Dems who disdained moderate and conservative Dems. He concluded that we must overcome resistance to a “D” on the ballot by working with elected Democratic officials and channeling our money to re-elect, elect and increase their numbers statewide. I sincerely agreed and rededicated my personal efforts.

With that in mind, I got busy raising more money and ultimately received a special award for being the individual Georgian who raised the most money for the DPG in 2007. People who have written many checks to our Party at my request over many years came back to me asking what was happening to their money, as Democrats lost more offices in Georgia’s 2008 and 2010 elections. I backed off on arm-twisting for money, and made efforts toward organizational accountability. As a member of the Executive Committee, I repeatedly asked for financial info adequate to give cogent answers, but have at best received obfuscation and at worst been stiffed by paid staff. Broad generalities after the fact have been striking in the small portion of our overall income that went to candidates and their elections. In obviously counter-productive actions, the DPG has focused on building a bureaucracy.

Five years have now passed since that January 2007 admonition, and we are indeed mired in bureaucratic red-tape of our own making, while voting Democratic is still socially unacceptable in most of Georgia. We are now down to 61 out of 180 Representatives, 20 out of 56 Senators, and zero Constitutional offices. The far-left has played into the hands of the far-right, while our Party whistles past the graveyard.

A prime example of the red-tape strangling us is ignoring the template that the DNC themselves created for selecting delegates to the national convention. It clearly states that the District-Level Selecting Body is the “Congressional District Caucus.” DPG Bylaws 5.1.6 specify “A quorum for purpose of a Congressional District Caucus shall be a majority of the seated State Committee Members residing in that particular Congressional District.” We amended the Bylaws in July 2006 to make this clear. When the DPG didn’t go by this in 2008, I figured there must have been some lag time that would surely catch up by this year. I’ve discussed this problem with staff and you, and have now been told the 2012 selection for this high Party honor will again be made by tons of total strangers who show up that one day -- whether Green, Independent, Republican, or no party at all (as long as they sign the “Dem for a day” paper). Pre, during and post work creates personal costs, logistics and paperwork nightmares for those of us who produce and preside. Most importantly, it distracts us and other volunteers from where our focus should be: helping Democratic candidates for public office during election year.

In the last few months, four Congressional District Chairs have resigned (2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 11th); I now become the fifth. As you know, I made a vow to folks in my CD Caucus that I would never hold another DNC delegate selection meeting like that of 2008. I am a life-long Georgia Democrat and a person of my word. In this and other emblematic problems of recent years, I have diligently urged the DPG to simply stick to the bylaws, thereby earn the trust of potential donors as well as grassroots workers, and lead to electing more Democrats to public office. It is clear my efforts have been wasted, and it’s time for me to apply my energy elsewhere. This is my letter of resignation as 4th CD Chair, effective immediately.

Best wishes,

Linda Edmonds