Cosby said she has until the week’s end to respond to a consent order from the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission.
But the outspoken conservative leader said she’s not backing down.
“To admit I’m guilty, I’m not going to do that,” Cosby said after the Cherokee County Commission work session Tuesday.
District 3 County Commissioner Karen Bosch filed two complaints with the state commission in May and June claiming Cosby’s group collected money in an effort to sway voters in local primary elections as well as the statewide T-SPLOST referendum.
Cosby said she received notice of additional complaints filed by an unidentified complainant as well as a request to sign a consent agreement she received on Nov. 7 to pay fines of $12,000 within 30 days.
Cosby said no evidence was included in the consent order.
“It hasn’t been made clear to me that I’m in violation,” Cosby said.
She said she also found it “obnoxious” the state commission found her guilty without allowing a hearing to confront her accusers.
“There was no opportunity for a hearing or evidence,” Cosby said. “That’s kangaroo court, as far as I know.”
Holly LaBerge, executive secretary for the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, said she was unable to comment Tuesday as the case is ongoing.
However, she said respondents who do not respond to the consent order are given notice of the state commission’s next meeting where the commission will hear the case.
“If they choose to respond, then we will continue to work with them,” LaBerge said. “If they do not respond, then it goes to commission.”
Bosch said Tuesday she is unable to get further information from the state Ethics Commission until after Cosby responds to the consent order, as it is not public record until the matter is heard before the commission.
Bosch said according to correspondence with the commission’s attorney, she will be notified when the hearing is set.
In response to Cosby’s press release, Bosch said she maintains the complaint is not about freedom of speech as Cosby infers, but about appropriately reporting campaign funds and activities.
“I have maintained that since the beginning,” Bosch said.
Cosby also accused Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens and Commissioner Jason Nelms for making favorable HOST presentations in public meetings prior to the Nov. 6 election.
“This is an effort to silence the public call for a criminal investigation of the commissioners and their role in the Bobo Boondoggle,” Cosby said in the release.
Cosby went on to say the commissioners are looking for a “story diversion” from the Bobo Recycling Center situation.
In her complaint filed in May, Bosch noted Canton Tea Party was in violation of Georgia ethics laws as it was not a registered political action committee or independent committee with the state commission.
Bosch provided the state commission with a flier claiming Channing Ruskell, a candidate for County Commission District 2, as a “Tea Party favorite” and listed Cosby’s phone number.
Additionally, Bosch included evidence from incumbent District 2 Commissioner Jim Hubbard claiming Cosby only allowed those select “favorites” to speak at tea party meetings and asked those in attendance to donate money toward helping those candidates win their respective Republican primary races.
Other information in the complaint included a flier passed out at the meetings encouraging attendees to vote down the TSPLOST.
Cosby said the complaints additionally accuse her of opposing the Homestead Option Sales Tax, a 1 percent sales tax on the Nov. 6 ballot.
She said in the release she personally opposed both measures but touted her First Amendment rights.
“Since when in America has an individual lost the right to speak out — pro or con — against an issue or a candidate?” Cosby said.
According to the state commission’s website, a consent order is used to settle a case wherein both the commission and the respondent agree and consent to settlement terms which include admissions of violations by the respondent, findings of fact, conclusions of law and potential sanctions.
Consent orders must be signed by the respondent and received by the commission staff no later than seven days prior to the date the case is scheduled to be heard before the commission, according to the website.