Robert Trim, whose clients include Sen. Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock), wrote the email to Board of Education Chairman Mike Chapman, who is also chair for Neighbors for A Better Cherokee, a PAC working for pro-public education candidates in Cherokee County.
In Thursday’s email, Trim writes: “I’m pretty busy these days as a professional in my field, and although I thoroughly enjoy crushing amateurs as a hobby… right now I’m busy enough that paying attention to you will be more annoying that you are worth (sic). For that reason, and that reason alone, I’m giving you a warning shot across the bow instead of grinding you into concrete like a bug.”
Chapman said Trim sent the email to the Neighbors for A Better Cherokee Gmail account Thursday morning.
He said the webmaster for the group then responded with an apology explaining that it had been removed. Trim responded with the final email, making threats directed toward Chapman.
“The bottom line is, we immediately did what he asked and we apologized,” Chapman said. “My beef is not with Robert Trim, it’s about getting the facts out. We changed the verbiage he requested we change immediately.”
Trim goes on in the email to say that if Chapman plans to accuse him of law breaking, Chapman “better be sure” he has committed a crime.
“In my case, I haven’t…and your site is defamation per se,” Trim wrote. “Check with your lawyers…you aren’t protected by NYT v. Sullivan and can no more accuse me of crimes than I can set up a website and start identifying you as anything other than a failed candidate.”
Trim’s reference to the New York Times v. Sullivan case is referencing the 1964 lawsuit that established actual malice must be proven to be considered defamation and libel in regard to press reports about public officials and public figures.
Trim said that if any “negative reference” was not removed from the website by 5 p.m. on Friday, he will “take the screenshots (he has) and deal with (Chapman) after election day.”
Trim made sure to distance himself from his clients prior to ending the email.
“By the way, this isn’t on behalf of any of my dozens of clients…just me. And just a friendly head’s up. If you are going to get into this business…learn the rules,” Trim wrote.
According to Rogers’ campaign disclosures, he uses Spitball Consulting, LLC, a Woodstock consulting firm, for printing, consulting, postage and signage to the tune of $13,575 during the reporting period ending June 30.
According to a certificate of organization from the Secretary of State’s office, Trim is the registered organizer of the company. The company was officially registered with the state on April 23.
Even though it’s only a few months old, Spitball Consulting, LLC, is popular among some local candidates. Cherokee County Tax Commissioner Sonya Little reported using the company in May and June, paying $750 each time for consulting. Cherokee County Commission District 3 candidate Brian Poole paid $600 in June for consulting and State House Rep. Sean Jerguson (R-Holly Springs) paid $1,350 in consulting and $1,428 in T-shirt expenditures in the month of May.
When contacted on Friday, Trim was unaware his email had been published on Neighbors for A Better Cherokee.
“Mr. Chapman and I will deal with that in court when this is done,” Trim said. “He can do what he wants to do, he can publish that on a website if he wants. I’m not going to engage him in the newspaper,” Trim said, adding he did not care to further comment.
When asked whether he thought the email was threatening, Chapman said it was possible but he was not concerned.
“I kind of found the email enlightening and kind of funny,” Chapman said. “I don’t make a living doing this. I’m just trying to do the right thing.”