What’s Going On?

An unconstitutional power grab

On May 23rd, 2022 Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger tried to disqualify Patty Durand from the District 2 Public Service Commissioner (PSC) on the eve of the primary election by claiming she does not meet the durational residency requirement for PSC candidates. That was the desired outcome of Durand’s opponent, incumbent Tim Echols, who does not want to face a challenger in his bid for re-election.

Durand’s legal team filed an emergency motion for a stay to Fulton County Superior Court, which was granted.

Durand went on to win the primary. To learn reasons behind the disqualification, including reasons behind the disqualification attempt, as well as next steps, see details below.

Eliminating Challengers

Durand’s opponent Tim Echols colluded with Commission Chair Pridemore to eliminate Durand from the race. First, Echols provided Pridemore with Durand’s home address. Once Chair Pridemore obtained Durand’s address from Echols, she redrew PSC District 2 to remove Gwinnett County from the District, leaving Echols with no challenger as Durand was the only announced candidate. Pridemore also helpfully added Chatham and Effingham Counties to District 2 as Echols requested, because he wants to move to Tybee Island.

The new PSC Districts were introduced as Senate Bill 472 by Senator Kennedy. The bill passed along party-line vote. Governor Kemp signed the bill late in the day on Friday March 4th, zero business days before candidate qualifying began.

The Georgia Legislature approved the PSC map and the bill was signed into law on March 4th. Durand moved that weekend to a new address in District 2 so she could enter the race and have standing to challenge the legality of these actions. Durand is now a resident of Conyers Georgia and enjoys hiking in nearby Arabia Mountain.

Patty and attorney Bryan Sells

“I was targeted for removal because my opponent Tim Echols does not want to be held accountable for the scandalous costs of Georgia’s Plant Vogtle, the most expensive power plant ever built on earth, now at $34B and still not delivered. Each household in Georgia has been forced to pay $1000 for something they have not received. The Ga PSC has provided no cost cap to Ga Power for this project and provided no consumer protections. Georgian’s electric bills will soon be the highest in the U.S., already at 8th highest.  Georgians will be burdened with huge power bills for decades. This never needed to happen.”

Winning the primary

On Wednesday May 25, 2022 at 3 am the Associated Press called the winner of the primary election for PSC District 2 Democratic nominee as Durand. On Tuesday June 7th the Secretary of State certified Durand as the primary winner and is the official Democratic nominee for Public Service Commission, District 2.

What’s next?

Durand will ask a Fulton County Superior Court judge to affirm that the state unconstitutionally burdened her rights under: (1) the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution, (2) the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, (3) the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and (4) the corresponding protections of the Georgia Constitution.

The hearing has been scheduled for 2:30 pm Tuesday, July 26, 2022 in Fulton County Superior Court.

“In Georgia, partisan officials can oversee their own election. America is supposed to be the world’s greatest democracy, yet PSC Chair Pridemore, Commissioner Echols, and Secretary of State Raffensperger can collude to target candidates and harm voters. That’s wrong. I will see them in court.”

“This is not about me. This is about PSC incumbents wanting to avoid accountability for their failures to protect the people of Georgia. This fight is about utility bill affordability, climate change and the need to accelerate renewables, especially rooftop solar. Fundamentally it’s about putting people over profits, not something my opponent and others on the PSC know how to do.”