"no collusion with Coffee County goons and unaware what they were doing"—Cathy Latham, who held the door and brought boxed lunches @MarilynRMarks1 @jennycohn1 @100FrogLegs @carrybeyond @CheryleJ0806 pic.twitter.com/NaAI3klHhd
— Will's Media Reform School #DoBetter ⚖️ 🌻 (@bywillpollock) September 6, 2022
When domestic terrorists swarmed the nation’s Capitol on 6 Jan 2021, armed-and-furious goons sauntered inside like they made reservations in advance.
The same can be said for bad actors who casually entered Coffee County, Georgia, elections office to calmly, diligently steal Dominion voting information and other data.
These two seminal events in American history should be written in successive chapters. The day after a violent attempt to overthrow a duly elected government—literally the day after that operation failed—operatives within the same mob turned to exploiting Coffee Co. voting system as a means to create, out of whole cloth, doubt in Georgia elections that were by call accounts safe and secure.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the 2020 contest in Georgia by 11,779 votes, but the conspiracy to overturn Peach State results had just begun.
Trump indictments & Coffee County
BREAKING: Trump’s lawyers just spotted by @CBSNews entering the Justice Department, per @RobLegare who is on site… comes as sources tell me the special counsel is moving toward a charging decision in the classified documents case
— Robert Costa (@costareports) June 5, 2023
On the eve (apparently) of Jack Smith indicting The Former Guy (TFG) on myriad charges connected to Capitol attacks, stolen documents, and his fake-elector scheme (more on that in a moment), it’s important to see the Coffee County incursion through the same lens.
Thumb-nailing the literally bonkers events in Coffee County is damn-near impossible, but here goes: on 7 Jan 2021, TFG operatives paid by disgraced lawyer Sidney Powell descended on rural Coffee County, Ga., to copy and distribute, with no legal authority, Dominion Voting software. That action kicked off a series of events that, as of this writing, has been almost entirely glossed over by local and national reporting that, consistently, have rehabbed Georgia’s republican officials as our story’s heroes.
By stealing that data in sleepy Coffee County, TFG’s miscreants could exploit software used in much larger counties in Fulton, for example.
Back to the timeline:
“These operatives distributed Georgia’s software on the internet to many unauthorized individuals with no restrictions on its use,” states Coalition of Good Governance’s (CGG) timeline. Recap on DouglasNow continues:
The full scope of the ‘software capture’ mission is not fully known. There were at least three breach events in the Coffee office in January 2021, (January 7, 18-19, & 25-29), by unauthorized actors who had their way with Georgia’s software, voting computers, the central server, and ballots and memory cards from the January U.S. Senate runoffs. They left with copies of software and data.
While in Coffee, outside actors allegedly illegally opened the casing and inspected computer parts, permanently damaging the machines. One allegedly made serious improper changes on the central server, causing it to produce inaccurate operating information. The improper changes were confirmed by our voting system computer experts.
From a journalism perspective, the fawning coverage of Kemp & Raffy “standing up to the MAGAs” became a widely accepted theme that simply could not accommodate a counter-narrative of incompetence, lies—or perhaps worse. “Average Joe” Georgia Resident might think, “wow, Secretary of State Raffensperger will definitely get to the bottom of all these blatantly obvious crimes in Coffee County, right?”
Deafening silence of Raffensperger, Dominion
Thus far, Average Joe is dead wrong. Don’t forget, Georgia republicans have a tendency to have hissy fits in stress-filled situations. Kemp pulled one in 2018 when he claimed, citing no evidence, that Democrats in Georgia tried to hack the election. (The incident was a planned DHS-security scan that Kemp knew about in advance.)
since reporters have problems remembering
..:: taps mic ::..
— Will's Media Reform School #DoBetter ⚖️ 🌻 (@bywillpollock) August 24, 2022
Cut to nearly five years later and, after Georgia officials learned CGG Executive Director Marilyn Marks was leading a legal charge to expose vulnerable Dominion machines, Georgia’s Secretary of State’s office decided to subpoena Marks for correspondence with Coffee County officials (which they later dropped after Marks pushed back). If they were after truth and justice, as Raffy & Kemp claim, why would you target a person with a subpoena working to expose vulnerabilities?
Thankfully, local reporter Doug Richards (one of the few journalists to stay on this story) was able to expose Georgia Secretary of State’s shifting stories about what he learned about Coffee County, and when. Doug’s report is crucial to myth-busting the generally accepted idea Raffy, Kemp and Gabriel Sterling are/were “adults in the room.”
Video Clip #3@richardsdoug asks the right question of Raffensperger.
"When did SOS first learn of Coffee County [breach]? "
Watch Raffensperger's answer that destroys any credibility his office had with on Coffee issue– and see 🧵below for what they told the Court.
— Marilyn Marks (@MarilynRMarks1) September 24, 2022
Raffensperger’s shifting explanations for when he learned of Coffee County breach should be viewed together with Dominion Voting’s silence, which to present day continues years after the breach itself. Marilyn Marks believes communications exist between Dominion and Raffensperger that they refuse to divulge. “It’s only their largest customer and their biggest revenue-producing product,” Marks says of Dominion machines. “And they’ve not had one iota of written communication about this since it happened? there’s not even a text message that says, ‘WTF?'”
Marks told me that Dominion declined to furnish communications when she requested them, and Raffensperger said no communications exist.
Even louder silence on-the-ground in Coffee County
Sometimes you can measure potential malfeasance in a story by the amount of “no comments” or <crickets chirping> a reporter receives. My last record for most “no comments” was the 2020 investigative series on Lou DeJoy, and how the Postmaster General in Atlanta was quietly replaced without explanation. (You can read that series here.)
Here, my first in a series of investigations into Coffee County, has produced a similar amount of *crickets* from folks I called and emailed. The folks I DID reach didn’t want to be named for fear of reprisals. (Character attacks like the ones perpetrated on Shaye Moss and Ruby Freeman are repugnant and I’ll not be party to that.)
YouTuber Packy McKibben posted a powerful clip of longtime-Coffee resident and attorney Jim Hudson, attending a Coffee Board of Elections meeting and confronting Coffee County official Wendell Stone with calm facts of Coffee crime, which were then met with… stone-faced silence (pun intended). Watch:
There are so many different characters involved in the Coffee County mishegas that you’ll need a scorecard. For our purposes though—and for future reporting on this story—here are some names, including Raffensperger, you’ll want to remember.
exactly right. that Misty is a piece of work… no reason to think Raffy knew beforehand but remember: coverup always worse than the felony 🤷♂️ pic.twitter.com/qYwK9N9GJK
— Will's Media Reform School #DoBetter ⚖️ 🌻 (@bywillpollock) May 23, 2023
– Cathy Latham, a TFG fake elector, let in the folks on that fateful day—and lied about it
– Misty Hampton, a Coffee County administrator who resigned based on “time-sheet discrepancies” and then mysteriously plane-hopped to other Stop the Steal operations and reportedly met with Mike Pillow
– Wendell Stone, who appears in the above clip and sits stone-faced while the details of Coffee County breach were read back to him
– Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which has (according to available evidence) slow-walked and danced around the breach
– other operatives to be named later, including data firm Sullivan Strickler, law firm Hall Booth Smith, and others
A well-placed source in Coffee County, who asked not to be identified for fear of repercussions, told me the Coffee County administrators must come clean about what happened. “The board needs to take action and be transparent with our people,” the source said, adding, “to tell them what they plan to do about the breaches, and what they’ll do in the future to minimize something like this ever happening again.”
On January 7th 2021, our election office was turned over to individuals who were allowed to do whatever they wanted to our election system. This was a workday and we were paying folks to do their job, and all of it is on video tape. They were downloading stuff right and left. — Anonymous
Coffee County Board of Elections meets once a month, and the first meeting after the ’21 breach (on 25 Feb 2021) is being questioned—as are the minutes taken. Both CGG’s Marilyn Marks and my source agree the minutes are incomplete at best. “They don’t accurately reflect what took place. The minutes of that meeting don’t accurately reflect who was there and what was discussed,” the source said.
My source was also sharply critical of how Brad Raffensperger’s office has handled this incident.
“I was surprised by his failure to respond more quickly. Secretary of State, in my opinion, has dragged his feet; GBI has dragged their feet. The public needs to know what occurred, and what’s being done to minimize the chance it will ever happen again. Folks in Coffee County are good people… but I’ve never seen public officials involved in such egregious behavior before.”
Coffee County elections officials will hold its next monthly meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, 6 June 2023, which is expected to be heavily scrutinized by press and attendees. I’m told exclusively that an attendee could demand Coffee County hire and independent-legal counsel to investigate the breach. As they say, “Watch this space.”
Coffee County officials Wendell Stone, Oscar Paulk, Andy Thomas & AJ Dovers did not respond to calls and emails for comment. Dominion Voting has not responded to emails for comment. After I peppered GBI with multiple questions a spokesperson told me “The computer trespass investigation in Coffee County involving election equipment is active and ongoing… The GBI has not made an official request for assistance from the FBI on this investigation.”
Two conspiracies to overturn 2020 election happened on successive days, but only one has received Lion’s Share of attention. They should be seen together because they were call-and-response: Jan 6 2021 failed, so they turned to a soft target Coffee County on 7 Jan. And the silence from officials on the latter—Dominion, Raffensperger, Coffee County officials—tells a story all on its own. ⚖️
Writer’s note: great thanks to YouTuber Packy McKibben for his fabulous work cataloging so many video clips to help as evidence. “Piercing cone of silence in Coffee County” is a CrankyYank original series that will continue as events unfold. If you have any tips, you can share them here.
UPDATE (7 June 2023): Ink had barely dried on my first story when news broke out of Treutlen County, Georgia. From incredible Lawfare reporter (and Twitter pal) Anna Bower:
In 2021, Coffee Co. elections director Misty Hampton gave a group of Trump associates unauthorized access to GA voting machines.
After she resigned, another county hired her to run elections.
Now investigators have seized an election server there, too.https://t.co/Xq8SGgtaHf
— Anna Bower (@AnnaBower) June 6, 2023
Misty Hampton—Coffee County’s then-election-supervisor who “resigned in lieu of termination” for what superiors called “time-sheet violations” after the breach was exposed—is going to be the subject of a future post in my series. For now, though, Doug Richards (great reporter with 11 Alive’s local-NBC affiliate) broke the story of the state seizing yet another election server connected to Hampton. If you watch Doug’s segment, you’ll be able to see Treutlen Co. manager TJ Hudson claiming ignorance of Misty’s past when they hired her:
If we pull back to 33K feet: for someone who kindly allowed a multitude of bad actors inside Coffee County elections (apparently in cahoots with Cathy Latham, former Coffee Co. gop chair), who was then fired for a completely different “violations,” sure has a knack for picking up new gigs and contacts. Almost like the breach was a success story, not a failure.
For the full picture, have a look at *unedited* clip posted by Packy McKibben (crucially filmed by local outlet DouglasNow) that shows Treutlen County attorney James Garner having a hissy fit that someone from *New York* <audience gasp> demanded answers and wasted county time. Garner is a big reason why “Wall of Silence” is still standing strong in Georgia sticks:
Will Pollock is a perpetually crabby New York City escapee based in Midtown Atlanta. He’s a freelance multimedia journalist, media analyst and author of three books (award-winning Pizza for Good & Leaving Triscuit), and his first children’s book, Gentle with Gertie.
In 2001, Will earned his Masters from The Medill School of Journalism, graduating with highest honors from the magazine sequence. As permanent member of Journalism’s National Honors Society, he’s been active in monitoring, writing and blogging about media and journalism ever since he graduated.
Obsessed with good storytelling and journalistic excellence, Will uses snark, humor and reason to distill dumb shit and make it fun. He’s a seeker/maker of non-consensus news, and helps you cure crankies by finding the nut in every story.
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