Former KKK leader running for election in North Georgia
LUMPKIN COUNTY, Ga. (CBS46) – A former Ku Klux Klan leader – who also served time in prison – is running for public office in North Georgia. Chester Doles says he is a changed man.
In most cases, convicted felons cannot perform their duties in Georgia. So how did Doles end up on the ballot?
According to the Georgian code, felons can hold elective office in Georgia if they have their civil rights restored and at least 10 years have passed from the time they served their sentence.
Doles was released from federal prison for firearms in 2007, meaning he passed that 10-year threshold. Before that, he had been sent to prison for beating a black man in Maryland.
When it comes to restoring his civil rights, that’s the question CBS46 Investigates has been asking officials all day. The Georgia State Board of Pardons and Parole has no record of Doles having his rights reinstated. The Lumpkin County Board of Commissioners also has no records related to Doles’ reinstatement of his rights.
An hour before our story aired, Doles told CBS46 investigative reporter Rachel Polansky that he now had to contact the secretary of state’s office to get a status on his campaign.
“This sick, insane woke culture is destroying America. These people want us to leave. We American patriots are the most endangered new species,” Chester Doles, 61, told a small crowd during election campaign.
Doles is running as a Republican for a seat on the Lumpkin County Board of Commissioners. He carries signs reading “Stop socialism. Save America. It’s a slogan borrowed from controversial Georgia MP Marjorie Taylor Greene, who Doles also supports.
“My primary policy would be the guardian of the education system in Lumpkin County, to prevent critical race theory,” Doles said. “It’s Marxist. He tries to put a sense of white guilt in young white children. It must be abolished. »
When we asked Doles about his criminal record, he compared himself to civil rights activists.
“If you look at Hosea Williams, he was a member of the city council, he was arrested 168 times. Congressman John Lewis, he’s been arrested 68 times, so that’s no reason to disqualify anyone,” Doles said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re here for the civil rights movement, then I’m a white civil rights activist.”
This isn’t the first time Doles has come to the fore. The former Ku Klux Klan leader is quoted and depicted in several press clippings from the early 1990s. Today, he tells Polansky that he is a changed man.
“Do you publicly denounce racism? asked Polanski. “I publicly denounce racism, yes ma’am,” Doles replied.
“Do you publicly denounce anti-Semitism? asked Polanski. “Absolutely,” Doles said.
“Why do you think you can win? asked Polanski. “I think I can win because there’s enough grassroots movement here in Georgia,” Doles said.
In this aspect, he might be right. On the final day of the election, at least seven people who were at the January 6 rally for President Donald Trump – won public office in races across the country.
“The atmosphere is helping these candidates reach a level they wouldn’t have reached before,” said Dr. Tammy Greer, professor of political science at Clark University in Atlanta.
Greer went on to say that the divisive political climate has created the perfect environment for candidates with chaotic backgrounds to see an opportunity in politics.
“There are minimum qualifications to become a candidate in this country. Yet, if you want to be a teacher, you must have a certification. To be a lawyer, you have to go through a process. But when it comes to running for office, saying “I have no experience, please elect me,” because I’m the best person to manage millions of dollars in a budget, to oversee a policy that cares for hundreds of thousands of people, I find it odd that we don’t charge more for those seeking political office,” Greer added.
As the CBS46 survey has already discovered, most applicants in Georgia do not undergo background checks. According to the Georgian code, criminals can hold elective office in Georgia if they get their civil rights restored or if at least ten years have passed from the time they served their sentence, without further conviction for another crime. .
Doles will most likely run against incumbent commissioner Rhett Stringer – who we spoke to on Wednesday. He said he plans to qualify to run for re-election later this week.