Cobb County GOP censures Gov. Kemp as former party chair resigns

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Oct. 1—Former Cobb County GOP Chairman Jason Shepherd has resigned from the county committee of the Cobb Republican Party after it passed several resolutions this week, one of which censured Gov. Brian Kemp.

Cobb GOP Chair Salleigh Grubbs said the party approved three resolutions at its committee meeting Thursday night at Marietta City Hall.

One resolution censured Kemp for failing to carry out campaign promises concerning illegal immigration. Grubbs said the resolution outlines Kemp's campaign promises of addressing sanctuary cities, creating a registry of criminal aliens and a track and deport plan.

"And (Kemp) has consistently said, 'I've got a big truck in case I need to round up criminal illegals and take them home myself,'" Grubbs said. "So the resolution portion of it says that Gov. Brian Kemp be censured for his failure to keep his campaign promises and meet his obligations to end illegal immigration in the state of Georgia."

A second resolution calls on Kemp to prohibit vaccine passports, while asking the Georgia Legislature to prevent businesses from requiring documentation about an individual's vaccination status. The idea, Grubbs said, is to prevent organizations such as Wellstar Health System from firing staff who refuse to adhere to its vaccine mandate.

A third resolution calls for a statewide forensic audit and criminal investigation into the 2020 and January 2021 elections.

Shepherd, who was not present at the meeting due to a teaching engagement, said he was represented by proxy, and his proxy voted against the resolution condemning Kemp.

Shepherd said the Kemp resolution came up during the GOP's county convention earlier this year when it was brought by the chair of the party's resolution committee, Michael Opitz. Shepherd said he shot it down at that time because party rules prohibit censuring someone who is not a member of the county committee. Kemp is not a member.

Yet Grubbs believes the resolution is legitimate.

"There is nothing in the county rules that prohibit censuring. What he's talking about is a parliamentary issue and I think it's more to do with interpretation. There is nothing in the county rules that prohibit that resolution that was passed," she said.

As county chair, Grubbs said she doesn't get to vote on resolutions.

"My thoughts are, the will of the committee spoke," she said. "It was very clear that the majority of the committee is in favor of the resolutions. And it's not my job as the chairman to silence people's voices."

Grubbs believes the resolutions will get Kemp's attention.

"You know, we're in a difficult spot in Georgia where there are people that are clearly upset with the governor," she said. "And there is a primary going on, so I am impartial, and I want to support Republican candidates, plural, so that's my job, and that's what I'm doing, so I don't take a position on that."

At the same time, Grubbs expressed dismay with the fallout from the resolutions.

"When I see the faces of the people that have been working so hard for the party and have been so supportive, it makes me sad when there's controversies like this, because they're good, hardworking people that want their voices heard, and it's not my job to shut down their voices. It was done in a procedurally correct way, and it is what it is," she said.

Grubbs referenced the Trump rally in Perry last weekend where the Republican base turned out. At that rally, Trump attracted headlines for speaking favorably about Democrat Stacey Abrams as Georgia's next governor.

"Having her, I think, might be better than having your existing governor, if you want to know what I think," Trump said. "Stacey, would you like to take his place? It's OK with me."

Grubbs said the base wants officials to carry out their campaign promises.

"There is a base in Georgia that wants accountability from elected officials and Cobb County is not alone in that," she said.

Shepherd told the Journal part of the reason he resigned was based on the procedural violation of censuring a nonmember. And part of his reason is the direction of the party. The job of the party is to elect Republicans after voters have chosen them in the primary. The party itself, he argued, must be neutral in primaries. With Kemp facing several Republicans in the gubernatorial primary next year, "That means right now we have a contested primary and by censuring Gov. Kemp at this point I believe it violates the rules of the party not being neutral."

As Cobb County trends blue, Shepherd said the Cobb GOP seems more interested in blasting Republicans than electing them.

"The party has lost its focus. The focus needs to be not going after fellow Republicans. The focus at this point now that we're hitting primary season with the candidates running is to prepare for the get out the vote in 2022. Instead, the party seems to want to settle scores and make points."

Most of the complaints Shepherd said he's hearing from people, such as prosecuting election fraud, are things that Kemp has no power under the state constitution and laws of Georgia to do.

"Part of it is just a complete lack of understanding of our system of government, which as Republicans we're the ones who constantly say that we understand how government works, but now we're censuring our elected officials for things they cannot do. And I'm not going to be part of an organization that does that," Shepherd said. "Kemp's not perfect and neither is Donald Trump. I'm not a 'Never Trumper,' because Donald Trump has done good things. And the fact that it seems like you're either completely one way or completely the other — this is not the party that I have spent the last 25 years of my life, most of it on my own time as a volunteer, a lot of times spending my own money, and I don't recognize it any more."