Whitfield County Republicans censure lawmaker over immigration, taxes

Georgia state Rep. Kasey Carpenter, R-Dalton, is seen Feb. 29 in Atlanta. He has been censured by Whitfield County Republicans. (Matthew Pearson/WABE via AP, File)
Georgia state Rep. Kasey Carpenter, R-Dalton, is seen Feb. 29 in Atlanta. He has been censured by Whitfield County Republicans. (Matthew Pearson/WABE via AP, File)

Whitfield County Republicans censured state Rep. Kasey Carpenter, R-Dalton, after he voted against a measure requiring local governments to cooperate with federal immigration officials and he accepted tax breaks for a hotel development project.

House Bill 1105 would require local jail officials to check the immigration status of inmates and cooperate with federal immigration officials, and it would prohibit local immigration sanctuary policies. The legislation was passed by the Georgia Senate and House and awaits Gov. Brian Kemp's signature. Carpenter was the only Republican to vote against the Georgia Criminal Alien Track and Report Act.

Carpenter, who represents a district with a large Hispanic population, said he was concerned the bill would promote racial profiling and could expose sheriffs and local officials to litigation for immigration lawsuits.

(READ MORE: New Whitfield County Civil War park offers recreation, digital features)

"We have incidences in this community where an individual with a busted tail light has been deported only to leave behind three kids for the state and community to support," he told a reporter in a private message on social media.

Securing the border and removing criminals is something he said he supports, but he added not all issues are black and white. Sheriffs statewide are not equipped to handle more responsibilities, which he said the bill requires, and federal immigration officers aren't staffed to handle calls statewide either.

The legislation was proposed after nursing student Laken Riley was killed while running on the University of Georgia campus in Athens by a man who illegally entered the country in 2022, The Associated Press reported.

"Kasey Carpenter has a long record of pandering to illegal aliens, including advocating for in-state tuition for illegal aliens at state colleges and universities," said a news release from the Whitfield County Republican Party.

The censure — a nonbinding declaration of disapproval — was passed unanimously by all delegates in attendance at the county convention late last month, the release said. Party Chair Eddie Caldwell did not respond to a request for comment by email.

Document

The party passed a resolution saying Carpenter is out of touch with his community, which twice supported Donald Trump for president. According the Secretary of State's Office, Trump won Whitfield County in 2020 with nearly 70% of the vote and nearly 71% in 2016.

The county party also censured Carpenter last year for a list of alleged grievances including siding with Democrats, protecting unauthorized immigrants, rolling back certification requirements for hairdressers and not supporting U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Northwest Georgia, among other issues.

Tax breaks

In a separate censure, the county party condemned Carpenter for participating in a development tool called a tax allocation district for The Carpentry Hotel, a project partly owned by Carpenter.

(READ MORE: Plan to use tax dollars to benefit developers angers some Whitfield County residents)

The development tool uses the increase in property taxes generated by a new development to finance the cost of public infrastructure.

The county GOP's censure said it gives funds to wealthy developers, but Carpenter said in his case, the hotel's construction generated sales taxes and the infrastructure funded by the tool promotes more investment.

"If a TAD is explained with facts and not dramatized, a majority of people would support," Carpenter said.

In its censure, the county party accused Carpenter of ignoring the basic principles of what it means to be a conservative.

No opposition

Carpenter has no opposition in the May 21 Republican primary or the Nov. 4 general election.

The Whitfield County Republican Party unanimously resolved to work to remove Carpenter from office and urged primary voters to withhold their vote from him in the primary.

"I'm a little confused over all the drama when all anyone had to do was take $400 down to the Capitol two weeks ago and sign up to run," Carpenter said.

Carpenter won more than 66% of the vote in the 2022 Republican primary. In the 2022 general election, he did not have a Democrat challenger.

Carpenter was first elected in 2017, winning nearly 54% of a four-candidate special election to replace a retiring representative.

Contact Andrew Wilkins at awilkins@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6659.

Upcoming Events