The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has rejected an administrative law judge’s decision disqualifying the candidacy of Atlanta lawyer Clarence R. Johnson Jr., who is running to be a Fulton County judge.
Johnson is challenging Superior Court Judge Todd Markle, who once served as executive counsel to Gov. Nathan Deal. The nonpartisan race will be decided Tuesday.
Two weeks ago, Administrative Law Judge Michael Malihi said Johnson’s name should be removed from the ballots because he failed to report that he owed more than $15,000 in state and federal taxes when he filed his formal notice of candidacy.
Even though Kemp ruled in Johnson’s favor, the secretary of state’s decision does not bar an investigation or prosecution of Johnson for false swearing. Anyone convicted of such a crime faces a sentence of up to five years in prison and a $1,000 fine.
Johnson, a former attorney for Fulton County and the city of Atlanta, had acknowledged being delinquent on his taxes. But he said he has been making payments on past-due taxes to the Internal Revenue Service and, beginning this past Saturday, would begin making payments to the state.
In a decision issued Saturday, Kemp cited evidence showing that Johnson is making payments on his past-due state and federal taxes. “By doing so, [Johnson] has removed his ineligibility to seek and hold office,” Kemp said.