(Editor’s note: after she saw my earlier reporting on the 2021 breach, Coffee County, Ga., native Stephanie Flagg forwarded me a letter she wrote to the Coffee Elections Board, in advance of today’s meeting, urging them to change course on systemic secrecy in official-public gatherings. She agreed to let me publish the letter in full, which follows here.)

Dear Coffee County Board of Elections,

Since watching the meeting held on June 6, 2023, I have observations that I’d like to share.

My first observation was the room size. It was concerning that the room was not large enough to accommodate the public.

Why was the small room chosen knowing the public would be there? I know the board has access to larger rooms, including the courthouse. (Editor’s note 2: Andy Thomas told me exclusively in our interview that Coffee BoE is actively looking for a larger meeting space to accommodate the public.)

The next thing I noticed was Chairman Stone announcing a ban on citizen questions and repeated it many times. Stone threatened a member of the public for asking questions. As board members, you represent the citizens and they are allowed the constitutional right of free speech and to seek answers from their government.

What is the legal basis for the Coffee County Election Board to infringe on the citizen rights to political speech in a public forum?

Why is the public not allowed to ask questions of people who represent them?  What is the legal basis for the Coffee County Election Board to infringe on the citizen rights to political speech in a public forum?

EXCLUSIVE: Piercing ‘cone of silence’ in Georgia’s ’21 Coffee County breach [Blog Series]—UPDATED

In anticipation of the June 20 meeting, I hope the corrected minutes of February 25, 2021 meeting will be available to the public. And that the June 20 meeting along with all meetings going forward will be accurate.

Below are questions and thoughts that correlate with your June 20 agenda items.

  1. Honest recorded roll call of attendees and true start and end times.
  2. Pray that the board members will be strong enough to truthful, have integrity and will treat the community and presenters with respect.
  3. Please take ALL of these words to heart. Lack of transparency and truth is an act of oppression to the citizens.
  4. Will you be brave enough to speak up if you do not approve of something on this agenda that best serves the interest of the citizens?
  5. Mr. Ben Perkins is an attorney. Is he a new attorney? Who engaged him and why? If he is the board’s new attorney, did the board members get a say in the decision? Did the previous attorneys from Hall Booth Smith resign? If so, why did they resign? Has the board and the public been informed of the HBS resignation?

‘It’s been humiliating’: Coffee County official slams lack of transparency in ’21 breach [UPDATED]

Did the Board of Elections make a decision to engage Mr. Perkins? If so, was this a public meeting? What are the written terms of Mr. Perkins engagement? What are his firm’s billing rates? Has he offered his views to any board member or county official regarding the appointment of independent counsel and Mr. Hudson’s proposal? Has Mr. Hudson’s proposal been shared with him? Was Mr. Hudson’s proposal a consideration of Mr. Perkins hiring?

Will you consider what is in the best interests of the public… and the nation?

  1. Do the meeting norms provide transparency, honesty and allow the public to ask questions as is their constitutional right?
  2. Will Mr. Hudson be allowed sufficient time to present? Have you asked him how much time he will need and allowed this time on the schedule? Have you allowed time for the board’s questions and Mr. Hudson’s answers?
  3. Have you all truly read what Mr. Hudson provided at the June 6 meeting? Will you consider what is in the best interests of the public… and the nation?
  4. Will the public be allowed to ask questions? Will you treat them with respect?
  5. Honesty, transparency and integrity are expected.
  6. I hope that this meeting adjourns with the public feeling confident in officials representing them. The public wants a transparent process and disclosure to discover what failed internally and to learn what improvements will be made going forward.
  7. Pray that the citizens can feel confident to expect and receive decency, honesty, transparency and integrity AND compliance with the law.


Stephanie Cation Flagg

Stephanie Flagg is a Coffee County native currently residing in Pasadena, California. You can follow her on Twitter here.


Please follow and like us:
Pin Share


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.