Election board rebukes Gresham

Don Gresham

Don Gresham

COVINGTON -- The State Election Board has issued a letter of reprimand to Horace Don Gresham for making false statements on a Declaration of Candidacy and Affidavit filed with the Newton County Republican Party in 2008.

The letter followed a promise by Gresham to never run for public office again.

The action by the State Election Board was based on a complaint by a resident filed in October 2008, alleging Gresham was not eligible to run for public office because of a prior felony conviction, and that he had made false statements on his notice of candidacy by swearing that he had not been convicted of a felony involving moral turpitude.

In fact, Gresham had been convicted of sodomy with a child under the age of 14 in DeKalb County in 1988.

Gresham ran for the District 2 Board of Education seat in 2008, but his bid for office was cut short after the Citizen publicized his criminal conviction and three residents of District 2 challenged his eligibility to run for office. Georgia Election Law states that at least 10 years must have elapsed from the date of completion of a sentence for conviction of a felony involving moral turpitude and qualification to run for elective office.

Gresham withdrew from the school board race just prior to a hearing before the Newton County Board of Elections to determine his eligibility.

In July 2009, Gresham pleaded guilty to false swearing. He was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay a fine of $1,000.

District Attorney Ken Wynne said he would not be able to see public office at the expiration of his sentence.

Gresham was scheduled to appear at a hearing before the State Election Board in October 2009, but instead wrote a letter informing the board of the recent court proceedings.

Gresham said he was diagnosed with cancer two years ago and is currently in remission. Also, he said, he doesn't drive at night, "so that in itself would stop me from running for office."

"So I ask you to please drop this case and let me spend the last few years of my life doing things with my children with a promise that I will not run for any public office ever," his letter stated.

The State Election Board responded with a letter in December serving as a reprimand and signed by Secretary of State Karen C. Handel, who acts as chair of the board.

"The Board accepts your promise that you will never run for office again and recognizes that you have pled guilty to a felony criminal charge arising from the facts in this case," the letter states.