GOP Gov Candidate Admits Refusing To Salute Flag — Denies Hitting On Campaign Manager, Sex With Underage Girls

March 15, 2010 8:22 a.m.

A far-right Republican candidate for governor of Georgia has issued what must be one of the most counter-productive — and flat-out hilarious — denials in the history of modern political campaigning.

On Saturday, Ray McBerry sent out a lengthy statement denying that he “attempted to have an affair” with his former campaign manager; had sexual relations with under-aged girls; stole custody of his son from the son’s mother (who, he noted, had tested positive for meth anyway); is no longer allowed to teach in the state; and is unpatriotic, just because he refuses to salute “the current federal flag which represents the present unconstitutional leviathan in Washington,” and instead salutes the flag of Georgia and the “original Betsy Ross American flag.”McBerry — who now works as a producer of radio and TV commercials, and is polling around 2 percent in the race — is the chair of the Georgia chapter of the League of the South, which describes itself as “a Southern Nationalist organization whose ultimate goal is a free and independent Southern republic.” (You can watch McBerry explaining his view that the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery here.) The group’s website is currently promoting McBerry’s candidacy. And McBerry’s own website declares: “NOT Atlanta, NOT Washington… but GEORGIA FIRST!”

Some of the rumors to which McBerry was responding appear to come from an email entitled “Ray McBerry The Monster,” which was sent out recently by a woman claiming to be McBerry’s ex-wife, and was obtained by TPMmuckraker.

In the email the woman writes:

I have read what Ray has said about me, and how I left one day, out of the blue when our son was one year old, because I simply wished to no longer have the obligation of wife and mother. Let me first say, this is not true. I loved Ray McBerry with every bone in my body, and believed he felt the same way. I could have wished for no greater day than when I gave birth to his son. But not long after my son was born everything fell apart. A woman from our church came to me and expressed concern about Ray’s actions while in the presence of a young girl in our church. I had already seen this, and begged daily for him to reassure me that this was nothing. He told me I was being foolish and should not speak this way to him. Shortly after, the girls parents took Ray to court for disorderly conduct around a minor. At this time he was teaching at an alternative high school. Because his father was the Assistant DA, all charges were dropped. But, not before he was ordered to resign from his teaching position, and never to pursue the career again.

Ray promised that if I ever got my life back together that he would let me be a part of my sons life and this was a lie. Above anything else I am a Georgian, and I do not wish that a man such as this lead my state.

Neither McBerry nor the woman responded immediately to a request for comment.

In December, McBerry fired his campaign manager, anti-abortion activist Jenny Hodges, saying that she was “preoccupied with efforts that promote life and liberty but are not, in my judgment, the best use of her time and energy in running our campaign as campaign manager.” (Hodges herself explained it at the time by saying, “the product which I had signed on to sell no longer existed.”) Hodges, a conservative Christian, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

An aide to a rival gubernatorial campaign told TPMmuckraker he had seen McBerry decline to salute the American flag at candidate debates and forums. “He literally steps back … a foot or so,” the aide explained.

The front-runners for the GOP nomination are State Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, former Secretary of State Karen Handel, and Rep. Nathan Deal.

Late Update: It sounds like the beef between McBerry and Hodges, whatever its cause, hasn’t abated. Hodges tells TPMmuckraker in an email, referring to herself in the third person:

Jenny Hodges had intended to resign from the campaign in December due to the clear and growing evidence that Ray McBerry is not the man that was originally thought, and is incapable of governing the great state of Georgia. She was fired prior to submission of her resignation.

Here’s McBerry’s full statement:

Dear Friends,

Our Campaign in the governor’s race has now moved to the place for which we have been striving together this past twelve months… some of our opponents in this race and the enemies of liberty which abound are threatened by the phenomenal growth we are experiencing. Those who purport themselves to be the frontrunners of this race know very well that we threaten to swamp the Republican primary on July 20th with our supporters from across the state who want a constitutionalist as the Republican nominee and who will not settle for another moderate in the November general election against Roy Barnes and the Democrats.

Our opponents began this race by trying to ignore our Campaign… but our numbers swell every day and our detractors stand speechless, unable to ignore how we are growing so quickly all over the state. Next, our opponents attempted to ridicule our Campaign, even snickering and making sarcastic remarks at GOP events and candidate forums, about our strong stand upon such essential Founding Principles as the Tenth Amendment, state sovereignty, and nullification… but still the people of Georgia, and even our elected officials, are flocking to our position. Now, finally, our opponents have entered the phase of combat in which they acknowledge that we are positioned to be one of the two candidates left standing for the runoff after the Republican primary. They have resorted to the only thing remaining to them which is to try to stop the tidal wave of support that we are enjoying all over the state… personal attacks.

In recent weeks, I have been personally accused of, but not limited to, the following list of absurdities: that I attempted to have an affair with my former campaign manager, Jenny Hodges, when she was fired for spending unacceptable amounts of time at the Capitol in lobbying efforts during our campaign; that I somehow “stole” sole custody of my son years ago from his mother, even though she tested positive for meth use in a court-ordered screening after she had been living outside our home for nearly a year; that I have had some sort of sexual or sexually improper relationship with underaged girls; that I am no longer allowed to teach in the state of Georgia, despite the fact that I retain my teaching certificate to this very day; and now that I am somehow unpatriotic because, as a Georgian who cherishes the constitutional Republic given to us by our Founding Fathers and wishes to see it restored, I choose to salute the Georgia flag and the original Betsy Ross American flag instead of the current federal flag which represents the present unconstitutional leviathan in Washington.

To all of these charges, insinuations, ambiguities, and accusations, I state unequivocally that they are at best, false gossip, and at worst, outright lies.

None of the above are true, whatsoever. The campaign staff of at least one of our opponents in this race, already well-known across the state for his unethical behaviour, is working to spread these inuendos and accusations. Both I and my team of volunteers in this race have much more important work to be about than to deal with the likes of these false charges. In fact, what my opponents wish more than anything is that they could deflate our Campaign in the eyes of the people who are now so excited about our strong stand for the Constitution and then exhaust our energies dealing with these issues rather than continuing to fan the flames of freedom across this state. Make no bones about it… this Campaign will not be derailed, it will not be stopped, and it will not be slowed down by the likes of the ridiculous accusations mentioned above — OR ANY OTHERS WHICH ARISE — between now and the day of our victory in November.

And to the thousands of supporters across the state who already support me in this race, please listen to me carefully… we have only begun to see the start of these such attacks between now and November. They will NOT be going away. They will ONLY increase. Do NOT expect anything different. If you do not have the stomach for the attacks that will be waged against me personally or against this Campaign, I bid you a gracious farewell and a sincere “thanks” for all that you have already done; go find something else to do between now and November. But you can tell our enemies that Ray McBerry is not going anywhere; and the Cause of liberty which now is beginning to glow like embers across this state because of the efforts of our Campaign is about to burst forth into a raging forest fire, as men and women of Georgia take a stand like has never been witnessed in our lifetime. Tell them that Ray McBerry is already committed to the battle and will not withdraw.

It is no accident or coincidence that these attacks have come upon the only constitutionalist in the governor’s race; it is the same attack that our enemies always use, because it is the only one that they have. None of their ideas can compete with our message.

If anyone has need of answer to these or any other accusations during the remaining course of this Campaign, feel free to forward them this email in its entirety. There will be no further time nor energy spent on these matters. There is a battle — indeed, a war — to be won to restore our constitutional Republic; and I will not waste our time which is fleeting already. Who will join me for such a time as this?

If you wish to truly make an impact for the Cause of liberty for our beloved state, and for America, get involved in the Campaign of the only constitutionalist and States’ Rights Republican in the Georgia governor’s race today… and then take out your checkbook or your debit card and make a financial contribution that matches your commitment to the Cause.

I now return to the important task before us…

And remain your servant in the Cause,

Ray McBerry

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