The board voted unanimously in a hearing at the Cherokee Elections Office that Singleton’s efforts to make payments to the Internal Revenue Service on $177,000 he owes made his run legal under the Georgia Constitution.
Singleton said he was pleased with the decision and planned to kick his campaign back into gear after halting his efforts when the complaint was filed by voters in March. But Singleton was still offended by the complaint because he has been candid about his tax troubles and that he was making payments.
“It’s just unfortunate that things like this are kind of what keeps people from running for office sometimes,” said Singleton, who is seeking the seat of retiring Commissioner Jason Nelms. “I’ve been open … People know that I was audited. Everybody knew I owed the money. They knew I was on a payment plan, because I’d talk about it.”
The candidate was cleared by a provision in the Georgia Constitution, which allows those who owe back taxes but are making payments to seek office.
Singleton, a 55-year-old Woodstock business owner, is running against Joseph Robert, a 52-year-old Woodstock business owner, and Kenneth Scott Gordon, a 48-year-old Woodstock Planning Commission member and architect. They are vying for the Republican nomination in the primary, with no candidates from other parties signed on to run in November.
Singleton, who was on the county commission more than a decade ago, was represented during the brief hearing by attorney Charles Robertson. Robertson also successfully represented Commissioner Brian Poole when his eligibility for office was challenge for tax issues in 2012.
None of the nine voters who filed the challenge turned out to defend their case before the elections board. The residents, all from Woodstock, were Lloyd and Judy Langston, Timothy Anthuls, Howard and Cinthia Schuster, Michael and Loretta Picklesimer and Roy and Sandra Williams.
Singleton, though, believes local political activist Linda Flory, who doesn’t live in the candidate’s district, is responsible for organizing the charge against him. Flory has said she’d rather not comment on that accusation.
Robertson presented the board with affidavits from Singleton and Atlanta-based certified public accountant Bruce J. Levine swearing Singleton was audited several years in a row and has since made arrangements to make payments.
The documents say Singleton completed negotiations for payments to the IRS in September 2012 and began paying $1,331 a month. An annual statement from the IRS in 2013, which Robertson said was the most recent Singleton had received, shows the candidate had paid off $13,310 as of July 8.
Robertson said that documentation should be sufficient to qualify Singleton.
“There is a plan in place, payments are being made and everybody’s happy,” the attorney told the board.
Singleton has said the taxes accumulated after the Great Recession “hammered” his real estate appraisal business and he made errors on tax filings, resulting in several audits.
Elections board member Donald Sams said the documentation Singleton presented made the decision to allow his run easy.
“Legally, we had no other choice,” Sams said after the hearing.