Submitted to the Savannah Morning News for consideration 10/18/20.
Both the local Republican and Democratic committees are made up of volunteers, people who have full time responsibilities elsewhere and, because of their passion for public involvement, become active in the party of their choice. Neither committee “qualifies” a candidate for office.
The committees, if they choose, assist the Board of Elections in collecting qualifying paperwork. But no candidate is allowed on the ballot or deemed “qualified” for office until the Board of Elections says so. The candidate signs an oath that she or he is legally qualified. Both political parties and the Board of Elections accept the candidates’ oath.
Neither the Republican committee, the Democratic committee, nor the Board of Elections has the resources nor the expertise to conduct extensive background checks. (Municipalities do their own qualifying for their city offices. They don’t do background checks.) Even the citizen who filed the challenge to Mr. Riley, a person who for more than a decade has been alternatively involved with both local political committees and is a former employee of the Board of Elections, says she took nearly seven months to “uncover” Mr. Riley’s quarter century old conviction. (Not to mention that the law requires such a challenge to be made within two weeks of qualifying, ie, by March 20, 2020.). So who is to blame?
The SMN pointed its finger, in big bold headlines, at the local Democratic committee. How about looking in the mirror. The SMN covered Mr. Riley’s trial and conviction. Why didn’t the SMN say something. Do you read your own paper. Have you fired or run off every single reporter who has experience, in news other than sports? Let the news organization without blame cast the first stone.