The Secretary of State’s Office is investigating whether Clayton County Commission Chairman Jeff Turner may have lied about where he lived when he ran for the county’s top elected office last year.
A spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office, which oversees elections matters, said Monday there appears to be enough evidence to warrant looking into the matter.
“They felt the Clayton case was substantive enough to open an official case,” said Jared Thomas, a spokesman for Secretary of State Brian Kemp.
Turner, who took office Jan. 1, insists he met residency requirements.
The Secretary of State’s Office weighed in on the matter after receiving a complaint about it a couple of weeks ago from the Clayton County NAACP.
“It is our duty as a civil rights organization to follow up on complaints that may be verifiable and substantiated as major violations of elections laws,” NAACP President C. Synamon Baldwin said Monday.
Thomas said it could be weeks, if not months, before the case reaches a conclusion because the Secretary of State’s Office could decide to turn the matter over to the State Elections Board or the Attorney General’s Office or it could ultimately be dismissed. It might be too early to determine what, if any, penalty Turner could face.
Public records obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found conflicting information about Turner’s primary residence during the past three years. Bankruptcy and divorce documents filed 10 months after Turner said he had established residency in Clayton list Turner as a McDonough resident — a town in neighboring Henry County — around the time he made his bid for the $144,212-a-year Clayton chairman’s job.
The McDonough address also is where Turner and his wife have claimed a homestead exemption, an indication that the property is their primary place of residence. By law, a person can claim only one exemption.
State law says a candidate running for county chairman must live in the county at least a year before running for office. Turner said he has been a full-time Clayton resident since December 2010 when he left Henry and moved to a house in Morrow owned by his father in order to run for office. He moved to his current address, a Riverdale apartment complex, about a year later. His wife and sons continue to live in Henry.