Citizen files complaint about local GOP

·3 min read

Aug. 11—A local woman filed a claim with the District Attorney's Office over a Facebook post by the Wilson County GOP chair, with the chair calling the allegations baseless.

In her formal complaint, Sarah Moore alleged that the GOP chairman for Wilson County, Brad Lytle, inappropriately used voter records in response to a comment she made on a popular Facebook group page called Parents of Students of Wilson County, TN.

The case concerning Moore began with a comic posted on the public group page. The comic concerned moderate voters attempting to find common ground between polarized groups.

Moore typed in the comments section, "Both parties are moving more to polar extremes, making it more important than ever for those not at the edges to speak up. I'm 47 and have never missed a chance to vote since I turned 18 for any office. Almost always voted R for president and most other offices. I'm a former officer with (Young Republicans). But I don't recognize the madness of what the party has become in the past few years, to a hyper degree here in Wilson County. The Republican Party absolutely left me."

Lytle indicated that he was challenging Moore's claim of Republican affiliation when he responded, "The only Sarah Moore in District 4, has a straight record of voting D, except for a crossover vote in the May primary this year. Would that be you?"

The GOP chairman said that he feels like that is a political purpose. In a follow-up post defending his comments, Lytle said, "I do like to do so (to look up voting records) when I am attacked by someone who claims they are Republican, and I suspect they are less than truthful. Other than that, using voter rolls is helpful in campaigns. All parties use them."

Voter records are public. Anyone can get them from the Wilson County Election Commission.

"Everything in this office is public record except for social security numbers," said Tammy Smith, the Wilson County Administrator of Elections.

However, when someone requests voter-list information, they must sign paperwork stating that the information will be used purely for political purposes.

Lytle indicated on Wednesday that he did not believe that he had breached that threshold, using the records on a public page in which politics were being discussed.

"The lady claimed to be a Republican who was voting for an Independent," Lytle said. "Part of what you use voter lists for is to vet individuals who claim they are Republican."

Tennessee state law does little to clear this up. T.C.A. 2-2-138 states, "Such list, and any other voter registration information such as voter history, if compiled, shall be available for purchase for a price not to exceed the cost of production. This list shall be available to any person who certifies on a form provided by the state election commission that such list will be used for political purposes."

The problem arises because of ambiguous language in the law that does not clarify what constitutes a political purpose.

Moore believes that Lytle spotlighting her voting record on a public page fell short of qualifying as a political purpose. Her complaint read, "Mr. Lytle, presumably in his role as chair of the Wilson County Republican Party, has voter registration lists. On multiple occasions, Mr. Lytle has used this information to post the voting history of individuals with whom he disagrees on social media."

On Wednesday, Assistant District Attorney Justin Harris said, "We are researching that to see if any type of law has been violated."

He added that his office will "look at the facts we can look at and see what comes of it, but we have no opinions on the case yet."