CONYERS, Ga. -- With less than two weeks until election day in Conyers for its next mayor, one of those candidates is embroiled in a state investigation of vote-buying.
It started with a simple Facebook post, but now the Secretary of State's office is investigating whether a post promising free gasoline if voters cast a ballot early was illegal. The message, posted on candidate Ronnie Godwin's Facebook page said in part "after you early vote tomorrow in the City of Conyers election, go get $5 of free gasoline. The post has now been edited.
But the investigation doesn't stop there.
Another complaint alleges a volunteer with Godwin's campaign was telling low-income voters living in a housing authority they would be evicted, but voting for Godwin would keep them sheltered.
Gary Erwin, the housing authority executive told 11Alive's Faith Abubey he was appalled when he heard the allegations. He alleges the campaign volunteer is a disgruntled ex-housing authority employee who was fired years ago and now works with the Godwin campaign.
"We pride our relationship with our residents and they need to be able to feel secure in living here," he said.
11Alive spoke with two residents who said the volunteer knocked on their doors.
"He said a lot of things might be changing for the housing authority," said Mary-Joanne McCulley.
"He didn't say nothing, like, threatening way," said Janice, who didn't give her last name. "He didn't say if I didn't vote for Godwin that I'd be put out. He didn't say that to me, because he knows who to talk to and who not to talk to."
11Alive reached out to Godwin's campaign, who said the volunteer was talking about confirmed plans by the housing authority to renovate the properties. They deny the volunteer ever said the residents would be kicked out if they didn't vote for Godwin, but the campaign is apologizing for any possible confusion.
"I think this is a situation where, once all the dots are connected, then it'd make a whole lot more sense," Godwin said. "I think there might be an attempt to undermine my campaign."
The candidate said because of the ongoing investigations by the state, he couldn't explain further what he meant. Meanwhile, both the Secretary of State's office and the Conyers Housing Authority are currently conducting their own investigations. If the allegations prove to be true, it could end in a felony charge for violating state campaign laws.
This isn't the first time alleged bad behavior by campaign volunteers. Just two weeks ago, Atlanta mayoral candidate Peter Aman fired a staffer and suspended another after a video of them telling a voter another candidate was withdrawing from the race surfaced. That was a lie.
Before that, a campaign worker associated with Ceasar Mitchell's campaign was caught swiping signs criticizing Mitchell from City Hall. He was later arrested for theft.