Robert Horgan recall, Fayette County, Georgia, 2009
At the time the recall effort was announced, Horgan had most recently been re-elected to a four-year position on the Fayette County Commission in November 2008 with his term scheduled to end in 2012.
Supporters of the recall asserted that Horgan had violated his oath of office and committed an act of misconduct. These charges were made after Horgan was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana.
In August 2009, the recall effort was placed on hold after Horgan took the case to court. Horgan argued that the recall petition draws no connection between the marijuana arrest and his work as a commissioner.
On August 28, 2009 Superior Court Judge A. Quillian Baldwin ruled that the recall petition was insufficient on the basis that Horgan's marijuana arrest was not related to his position in office.
The recall effort was chaired by Robert J. Ross, a Peachtree resident. Former county commissioner Harold Bost supported the recall effort.
Commissioner Horgan was arrested on Saturday, May 23, 2009, after being pulled over for an expired license plate tag. During the routine traffic stop a small amount of marijuana was found in the vehicle. Horgan was charged with a misdemeanor of possession of marijuana and driving with an expired tag. At the time of the arrest Horgan admitted that he had smoked marijuana while driving, according to the incident report.
On September 28, 2009, Horgan was found guilty of three charges filed against him in light of the May 23 marijuana arrest. Horgan was found in violation of: not upholding the U.S. Constitution and state laws and unbecoming conduct. Horgan was found not in violation of attempting to solicit a bribe after he was placed in the back of the patrol car and asked "if there was anything that we could do to resolve this right here, right now!" Horgan faced about $1,000 in fines by the Ethics Commission. Additionally, Horgan faced misdemeanor charges for marijuana possession.
Response to recall
In reaction to the recall and the related arrest Horgan said, "Since I decided not to resign, I will do everything I can to fight this."
Path to the ballot
Recall supporters would have had to collect a minimum of 21,454 signatures, 30 percent of registered voters, if the judge who ruled on their petition had allowed it to go forward.
On July 29, 2009 recall supporters submitted an official recall application as a first step that listed 540 recall sponsors. As per the laws governing recall in Georgia, supporters were required to collect signatures from a minimum of 100 registered voters.
Lawsuit to stop recall
According to the brief filed with the court by Horgan's attorney, as Horgan sought to stop the recall:
- The petition lacks pertinent details surrounding the marijuana charge, including whether or not it occurred while Horgan was conducting business as a county commissioner.
- The petition/recall application doesn't say whether the marijuana arrest was “in any way related to his office”.
- The petition doesn’t include a copy of the citations Horgan was given in connection with the case.
- The recall application doesn't include a copy of the oath of office Horgan is alleged to have violated.
On August 28, 2009 Superior Court Judge A. Quillian Baldwin ruled that the recall petition was insufficient on the basis that Horgan's marijuana arrest was not related to his position in office. However, Judge Baldwin warned Horgan that as the criminal case moves forward he might be forced to resign as a condition of his probation.
- Recall campaigns in Georgia
- Political recall efforts, 2009
- Ethics panel rules against Fayette County commissioner
- County commission recalls
- Commissioner Robert Horgan county website
- The Committee to Recall Robert Horgan
- Recall Robert Horgan
- Recall Robert Horgan Facebook page
- The Citizen, "Horgan recall hearing set for Friday," August 26, 2009
- List of Fayette County Commissioners, retrieved on April 25, 2010
- The Citizen,"Commissioner Horgan’s suit challenges recall effort as ‘misleading’," August 4, 2009
- Committee to Recall Robert Horgan,"Commissioner Robert Horgan Files Motion Questioning Legality of Recall," August 4, 2009
- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution,"County official in pot bust fights recall effort," August 5, 2009
- The Citizen,"Horgan recall effort dies in court," August 28, 2009
- The Citizen,"Ethics panel decides against Horgan, takes no action," September 28, 2009
- Fayette Daily News,"Horgan challenges recall in court," August 4, 2009
- Fayette Daily News,"Group takes first step to recall Horgan," July 30, 2009