Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

GBI Requested for Lotson Probe; Sheriff Defers to State Agency over Issue of Councilman's Residence

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

GBI Requested for Lotson Probe; Sheriff Defers to State Agency over Issue of Councilman's Residence

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has been asked to investigate whether Darien City Councilman Griffin Lotson was truthful when signing an oath saying that the property that he calls home for voting purposes is not rented or operated as a business.

Bob Mucha, chairman of the McIntosh County Board of Elections, asked Sheriff Steve Jessup to investigate the matter, which was the subject of a hearing on Lotson's residency last week.

Chief Deputy George Trexler said Jessup decided to go outside for the investigation because his office has friends on both sides of the issue.

"We're going to bring in an impartial inquirer, which is the GBI," Trexler said.

Lotson's lawyer, Sam Oliver, made the point to the Board of Elections last week during the second session of a hearing on Lotson's residency, that Georgia has low standards for establishing residency for voting. When the vote was taken on whether Lotson had proved his case, it stopped with votes in his favor.

The residency came up after Darien City Councilman Jeff Clark challenged Lotson's voter registration based on his residency. Although the time had long passed to challenge Lotson's qualifications to run in the Nov. 3 city elections, voter registration is subject to challenge at any time under Georgia law. Darien's charter requires City Council members to be electors in the districts they represent.

In seeking to prove where he lived, Lotson relied on a number of documents. Although power, phone and gas bills would have helped establish his residency at 1033 Poppell Drive, Lotson went further, asserting he had a homestead exemption on the house. He acknowledged, however, that the house's main use was as a personal care home and that he maintained a room in the house, although his wife still lives in a house in another election district.

In his hand-delivered letter, Mucha asserts that a document showed Lotson had applied for homestead exemption on the property Nov. …

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