by Darryl J. Terry, II, Candidate for Georgia House of Representatives District 56
In politics, filing deadlines are very important days. “What is a filing deadline” you might ask? Think about it like this… Every year, with the exception of this year, taxes are due on April 15th. Americans have come to know and anticipate the federal tax filing deadline. Just like you can rely on Uncle Sam, you can expect campaigns to cost money. And the state, as well as the public, want to know how much you have - or the amount you have raised to date. Today, April 30th is the filing deadline for campaigns in Georgia, and here’s why it’s important.
Filing deadlines are in place primarily to promote transparency. In fact, Georgian’s were so concerned with transparency, they renamed the office that collects and publishes the disclosures from the State Ethics Commission to the Georgia Government Transparency & Campaign Finance Commission in 2011. Inherently, when money is involved, people without an ethical compass or any actual morals are lurking nearby. There’s no doubt that money is important to elections. But money should never be more important than people.
Why does it matter? Who cares how much money you have? In elections, money is required to win. The more money you have, the more resources you can afford, and the more voters you can reach. It’s a numbers game. And whoever has the most money is usually in the best position to win. Data analysts will use campaign disclosures filed today to analyze campaign finances. The amount of money raised, specific donors, the amount of cash on hand, and what the campaign has spent its money on are a few of the items on the report. Campaigns are also governed by set guidelines from the finance commission; including how much money candidates may receive from individuals and organizations, how often they have to report those contributions, and how much individuals, organizations, and political parties may contribute to campaigns.
Why am I writing about the deadline? I believe in actual transparency. The layperson would never know it existed if they didn’t read about it in the paper. And even then, folks aren’t necessarily tracking how much their representatives are bringing in. For example, federal candidates report based on the quarter of the year. An article from the AJC written on April 15th reads “Ossoff nets another $1M, ends quarter with $1.8M on hand.” It was written shortly after the first quarter reports were released. Many pundits would consider him to be the frontrunner because he’s raised the most money. And by traditional standards, that would be the case. You can expect similar articles will be written and released after today. But our campaign is different and our campaign isn’t focused on making the newspaper or raising the most money. We’re focused on helping the most people we can.
As of April 1st, I’ve committed to spending at least 15% of all contributions on COVID-19 relief efforts. Realistically, it’ll be more than 15%. Further, I’ve instructed my team to remove the fundraising line from calling scripts and redirected our focus on getting folks the resources they need to survive. After all, that’s why I’m running - to help everyday folks. I’ve also suspended all in-person campaign events as well as canvassing efforts until further notice. They will remain canceled until it is safe to resume. That decision will be based on factual data from medical professional experts and not business interests or others interested in winning campaigns.
So today, you may see ads asking for campaign contributions or receive emails asking you to help them meet a certain goal they’ve set for the deadline. But I wanted to be upfront with you and let you know that we won’t be sending any of those emails or paying for any ads. However, please know that any contribution to our campaign will be used to save lives.
Unlike the Governor, this campaign isn’t about money, it's about taking care of our neighbors - and that’s what we’re going to do.