Trump-backed attorney general candidate's campaign raises more questions than answers
Donald Trump and his preferred Georgia attorney general candidate John Gordon have a lot in common: Both continue to push false claims about the 2020 election, both are facing active lawsuits, and their professional credentials have raised questions.
Gordon is seeking to unseat Attorney General Chris Carr, who is facing Trump's wrath for not overturning the election that Trump narrowly lost by about 12,000 votes.
"Chris Carr was a disaster every step of the way,” Trump said in a statement endorsing Gordon. “He wasn’t looking for election integrity, but rather an easy way out.”
Gordon, like many of Trump's challengers, is considered a longshot to unseat the incumbent in the May 24 race.
He launched his campaign with a broken website and a typo that claimed the 2022 elections — which had not yet happened — were "fraught with fraud." He reactivated his law license last year to join a failed lawsuit that claimed there were counterfeit ballots stuffed into Georgia's election totals and might not have enough years with the State Bar of Georgia to meet the Constitutional eligibility to be on the ballot. And while crisscrossing the state asking voters to elect him as Georgia's top law enforcement official, court documents show Gordon has evaded service in a lawsuit alleging he won't return money to a tenant who rented his luxe Atlanta mansion.
Gordon's candidacy is the latest example of Trump's singular focus with upending Republican Party politics in Georgia and across the country, seeking to punish those who he perceived as wronging him regardless of the greater political cost. With Georgia a closely divided battleground state, Carr is one of the more vulnerable attorney generals in the country and faces a tight race against likely Democratic nominee state Sen. Jen Jordan in November.
Gordon's main campaign platform is promising an investigation into the 2020 election in Georgia, which was counted three separate times and saw no successful legal challenge to its outcome or processes.
In a speech at the Bibb GOP meeting Thursday night, Gordon pledged to "open an official investigation into the 2020 election."
"Now I don't know about you ladies and gentlemen, but I am sick and tired of reading in the mainstream media that there is no widespread finding of fraud," he said. "Well, I can tell you you're never going to find fraud if you don't look for it."
However, there's no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. Similarly, Gordon admitted he could not provide evidence he was an active member of the State Bar of Georgia for the seven years required by the state constitution.
"I've been an active member for 12 or more, I think more," he told GPB News on Thursday night. "But they don't have the records and I don't have accurate records. But I know when I was actually practicing law. I'm a law-abiding citizen. You're not allowed to practice law without being an active member of the bar."
The requirements to run for statewide offices such as governor, secretary of state and agriculture commissioner are straightforward: be a U.S. citizen and legal resident of Georgia for a certain number of years and meet minimum age requirements. But for attorney general, an additional threshold must be met: According to the Georgia State Constitution, a candidate must have been an active-status member of the State Bar of Georgia for seven years.
Gordon graduated from Mercer Law school in 1979 and began working at law firm Smith, Gambrell, Russell until 1983, according to a flyer for his unsuccessful 2018 run for state Senate, obtained by GPB News. From there, he spent four years at Georgia-based document management company Lanier Worldwide from 1983 to 1987 as "Director, Product Marketing" before founding Gordon Document Products in 1987, according to the same flyer and Gordon's LinkedIn page.
Based on Gordon's resume, working four years as a lawyer for Smith, Gambrell and Russell and reactivating his membership less than a year ago would put him short of the seven years needed to meet the constitutional requirements to hold office. Gordon told GPB News he was "in-house counsel" for four years while at Lanier and retained active status for a few years after that but did not provide documentation or evidence to support the claims.
He first became a member of the State Bar on July 11, 1979, and reactivated his State Bar membership July 6, 2021, to assist with some of the myriad of failed election lawsuits seeking to overturn Georgia's results. The State Bar of Georgia only has records dating back until 2000 and could not confirm how many years Gordon has been an active member.
Gordon's public comments about his professional history paints a somewhat conflicting narrative about his service. In a March 12 interview on the Beth Beskin show, Gordon said he practiced law "at the beginning of my career," while he said on an interview with conservative radio show host Martha Zoller he practiced law for "10 or 12 years."
The Trump-backed candidate is also being sued over his home north of Atlanta — currently listed for sale at $4.95 million — that has been rented out previously on AirBnB. Fulton County property tax records show Gordon and his wife have a homestead exemption on the property.
The lawsuit claims Gordon trespassed onto the property, terminated the rental and is wrongfully holding on to deposits and advance rent paid. A filing in the case also said Gordon "refused to make himself available" for service of the lawsuit by marshals and the case is still open.
Gordon is one of seven Trump-backed candidates running in the Republican primary next month and, like many, has failed to gain traction financially or in the polls. Former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, challenging Gov. Brian Kemp, has struggled to find a foothold and is polling about 20 points behind the governor, while Secretary of State candidate Rep. Jody Hice may be headed to a runoff against incumbent Brad Raffensperger.
The lone bright spot for Trump's slate is Herschel Walker, the former Heisman Trophy-winning athlete who has dominated fundraising and polling in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate despite a steady avalanche of negative stories highlighting things like overstated business practices and allegations of domestic violence, a refusal to debate primary opponents and constant gaffes on friendly media interviews.