Two candidates for governor had teacher certificates suspended — for misconduct with female students

According to state records, two candidates for governor — one Republican and one Democrat, both trained as high school educators — have had their teaching certificates suspended for misconduct involving female students.

Summaries of both cases, handled by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, are available for public inspection, courtesy of the state’s Open Records Act.

Ray McBerry, a Republican champion of states’ rights and a former history teacher, had his certificate suspended for one week in 2004 following allegations from the Henry County school system that he had “maintained an inappropriate relationship with a student and that he deliberately misrepresented the facts of the case in his first response to the school system’s investigation,” a case summary states.

Republican Ray McBerry

Republican Ray McBerry

McBerry had met the girl at church, where he was a youth minister, and said he was counseling her.

A complaint against McBerry was filed by the girl’s mother in December 2002. Connie Rutherford, a spokeswoman for the Henry County school system, said McBerry resigned his position at Patrick Henry High in Stockbridge less than a month later.

The student told investigators that she and the teacher had kissed, and that he fondled her breasts. McBerry told investigators she hugged him. In their separate interviews, McBerry and the female student agreed on one point: McBerry gave her a cell phone to keep in touch.

The age of the girl is not mentioned in documents. She did not attend Patrick Henry High — a fact that doesn’t matter in the eyes of the Professional Standards Commission.

Witnesses followed the teacher — who at the time was married — and student to a rendezvous on a dirt road, after the girl’s mother and stepfather warned him to stay away from her. McBerry denied, in writing, that the meeting had occurred. Then he admitted, also in writing, that it had.

From the case file: “Looking back at this, [McBerry] wished he had not responded as quickly. The allegations made against him were “traumatic” to him and he responded out of “panic.”

McBerry also told investigators that “he was brought before a local magistrate on allegations made by the mother [of the female student].” The judge refused to issue a warrant.

Multiple calls to the McBerry campaign on Wednesday went unreturned. But in an e-mail to supporters over the weekend, McBerry acknowledged that questions had been raised about his conduct as a teacher — “despite the fact that I retain my teaching certificate to this very day.”

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

Gary Walker, deputy executive secretary for the Professional Standards Commission, said McBerry’s certificate — needed to teach in Georgia public schools — expired in June 2005, though it can be renewed.

McBerry says he now produces radio and TV ads for a living.

Carl Camon is a Democrat and five-term mayor of Ray City. Until October, Camon was a teacher at Valdosta High School.

He quit rather than submit to a five-day suspension issued by the Professional Standards Commission. “I was not going to serve a single day, a single hour, for something I didn’t do,” Camon said in phone interview on Wednesday.

Democrat Carl Camon

Democrat Carl Camon

The complaints were first filed against him on Sept. 18, 2007, Camon said. The candidate for governor said he was sent home for five weeks while the city school system investigated.

Camon, who is married, denies all allegations of wrongdoing, and fought the charges through a full hearing before an administrative law judge, and a second hearing before the Professional Standards Commission. Bill Cason, superintendent of the 8,000-student Valdosta city school system, declined comment, citing the possibility of further litigation.

Camon says he was set up by a group of unruly students he had disciplined. “A group of little girls in the back said, ‘Mr. Camon, we’re going to get you.’ And, buddy, they put it on me,” he said.

Camon accused the Public Standards Commission of a “witch hunt,” and said it would have no effect on his candidacy. “I’ve been kind of waiting for this to come. This is an opportunity for me to stand up as tall as I can for teachers who are innocent,” he said.

At least 22 students were interviewed, the case file indicates. The findings of fact, according to the GPSC:

“Multiple student witnesses indicated that the educator made inappropriate comments to and deliberately stared at the breasts and buttocks of multiple female students on multiple occasions. Some witnesses indicated that inappropriate comments had been whispered to students. Witnesses also observed the educator look up students’ skirts.”

In the political world, both McBerry and Camon are minor but potentially important players in their parties’ races for governor.

McBerry challenged Gov. Sonny Perdue in the 2006 primary, collecting nearly 50,000 votes — just over 11 percent of all Republican ballots cast.

Camon’s profile in the Democratic primary for governor is far lower. He has never run for statewide office before, and reported a mere $12.84 in his campaign treasury at the end of 2009.

Even so, the two primaries are so laden with candidates — seven in the GOP contest, five in the Democratic one — that better-funded competitors will be struggling to make it to a runoff. One or two percentage points could make all the difference in the world.

So the records of McBerry and Camon matter.

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67 comments Add your comment

Sarah

March 17th, 2010
6:48 pm

While Camon fought the charges and has now served 5 terms as mayor, the McBerry charges are a bit more damaging. The lies from McBerry are very dangerous.

[...] Galloway has the report: A complaint against McBerry was filed by the girl’s mother in December 2002. Connie Rutherford, [...]

MB

March 18th, 2010
8:26 am

Heck, GA voters recently elected a GOP candidate who had slept with his mother in law. This shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Lee

March 18th, 2010
8:32 am

Sharecropper you do know that one of them is a democrat. Get your facts straight. And I hope that you are also aware that cracker is a derogatory word.

Ostrich Racer

March 18th, 2010
8:32 am

Well, Ray, so much for the Governor’s Mansion, but cheer up — there’s bound to be a Paulding County house seat out there, just waiting for a guy like you!

Cutty

March 18th, 2010
8:46 am

What happened to ‘personal responsibility’ McBerry? Why resign if you did nothing wrong?

MB

March 18th, 2010
9:02 am

“Better the male teachers hitting on the female students than the female pe teachers demanding sex from their students and players.”

Exactly how is it better may I ask?

The Cynical White Boy

March 18th, 2010
9:02 am

Never heard of these guys and didn’t know they were running.

Must be a slow ‘news’ day at the AJC.

No pre-prepared articles from Obama campaign HQ or the Dem Nat’l Committee HQ I guess.

Road Scholar

March 18th, 2010
9:05 am

If elected they’ll fit right in! Ethics legislation like Tennessee and Maryland is needed now. Nothing less!

Dagnabbit

March 18th, 2010
9:06 am

@Lee

It depends on who is spewing out the word. Sounds like Sharecropper meant it as derorogatory.

Huh?

March 18th, 2010
9:23 am

I think sharecropper is himself a saltine if you ask me, or at very least a self-loathing whole grain variety. As a proud member of that long square sided sleeve, and a life-long proud Geogian, I am remiss to think that I share my streets with people like McBerry, Camon and Sharecropper.

T.Steward

March 18th, 2010
9:26 am

I worked with Mr. Camon and I can say beyond a shadow of doubt that he is INNOCENT! Mr. Camon and I took students on field trips. If I even thought for a second that he was doing anything inappropriate I would not have gone anyplace with him. During the time of those allocations, I overheard a parent whose child was a witness state that he was disappointed that his child was a part of such foolishness. Those students who made those horrific allocations were mad because Mr. Camon disciplined them. Teachers overheard the students plotting and scheming against Mr. Camon. Think about it, if he was guilty why in the world would he be running for governor? Some of those who are not educators seem to think that all students are “angels”, can do no wrong, and are honest. However, I bet if they could have an opportunity to go into a classroom or hang out in a school for a day their opinions would change. I know there are some students who are angels, and as an educator I am excited to have those students in my class. However, for every one angel I get, I get two “others”. Mr. Camon’s only guilty of trying to turn those “others” into “angels”.

lmno

March 18th, 2010
9:27 am

I would never teach highschool because of the Camon story.

SPC

March 18th, 2010
9:28 am

Sharecropper, you are truly an idiot. And cracker is as offensive to me as the n word is to african americans.

Atlanta Baseball Man

March 18th, 2010
9:29 am

Lee 8:32 am

Did you know that the Atlanta Crackers were Atlanta’s minor baseball team before the Braves moved to town.. You stupid Yankees think everything is a derogatory word move back to where you came from if you don’t like Atlanta.

[...] in being fair to all candidates. Two candidates, one Democrat and one Republican, were caught engaging in Misconduct with Female students: According to state records, two candidates for governor — one Republican [...]

Casey D

March 18th, 2010
9:37 am

Dear T.Steward: The word is “allegations” not “allocations.” Please tell me you are not a teacher.

I say this

March 18th, 2010
9:41 am

Don’t elect either one of them.

Surely there are candidates of high moral character (I hope) to avoid electing just anyone to office.

William

March 18th, 2010
9:42 am

The origins of the team’s name are unknown, according to Tim Darnell, who wrote The Crackers: Early Days of Atlanta Baseball [5].

There are several theories as to the origin of the word cracker:

The name comes from the sound of whips used to drive cattle and oxen. Florida and Georgia cattlemen cracked whips to flush their stock out of the scrub while settlers used whips to spur on oxen that pulled their carts and wagons. Cracker has been used in this sense since the early 1800s. This is the most popular theory today. See Cracker Country
The word also comes from the practice of “corncracking” or grinding dried corn for use as grits and meal, as in the lyrics of the folk song Blue Tailed Fly, “Jimmy crack corn.” When used in this sense, a Cracker is somebody who can’t afford any other food. And, by the 1800s, the name “Cracker” wasn’t used to describe only impoverished settlers.
The name CRACKER is derived from the crack from a whip on a bull

It could be a reference to a then-colloquial term for someone who is quick and smart, a variant on “Cracker Jack ballplayer”, for example.
While the “Georgia cracker” is the most obvious association, it raises a question as to why a Negro League ball club would have called itself “Black Crackers”. Georgia history books once explained that stagecoach and wagon drivers, using whips to speed up their teams, would often respond “I’m a cracker from Georgia” when asked of their origin. This usage, extending to post-Civil War years, would have crossed racial lines and would not have had any derogatory connotation.

copdawg

March 18th, 2010
9:44 am

thank you, CaseyD

Bigdawg88

March 18th, 2010
9:45 am

Casey, maybe he/she’s an art or band teacher. Hopefully not a grammar teacher! lol

Carl Camon

March 18th, 2010
9:47 am

I am Carl Camon, and when I made a decision to run for governor, I prepared myself for this day. I knew that the story would be onesided, as it always seems to be when a teacher is involved. I was accused of making inappropriate comments to students, but not one ounce of evidence in my case has been proven. Twenty-five or more fellow teachers, in which I have worked with at the same school, in the same classrooms, in the past, wrote statements supporting my innocency, including all teachers in which I shared a collaborative classroom (at no time was I ever alone with any of the students who made these false accusations; another teacher was always in the classroom with me). The Valdosta School System issued a letter that stated that no evidence was found of any type of sexual harassment. The Professional Standards Commission has a history of not telling the “whole story”. Even the worst prepared attorney in our state could take my case and win, if they had all the evidence. I wrote letters to the Governor about my case and to the Attorney General, regarding laws that were broken, and I was ignored. I was not accused of touching any student in any way. The false accusations arose because students were upset with me because I would not tolerate their behavior in my classroom and that I called their parents every Friday to give them a report about their behavior in my class. The students in question told me in my face that they were going to “get me” and others stated that they were going to “fix me”, because I was causing them to miss out on going to football games and weekend parties, and boy, they did a super job of getting me. The problem is that they had to lie to do it. These accusations happened over two years ago and I have been fighting this since I was first accused. I refused to accept punishment for something that I didn’t do, and I will never serve one minute of any sanction, because it is just not right. For those who have made derrogatory comments aimed at me; I’ll keep you in my prayers and hope that no one ever falsely accuses you. I am determined to stay in this race until the end, and I’ll let the people of Georgia decide who they want as their next Governor, and not those who thrive on destroying people’s lives with responses made via a blog.

I am reminded what Apostle Paul said in II Corinthians 12:10 – That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Bobby

March 18th, 2010
9:56 am

Clearly the McBerry case shows that he crossed the line as an educator and minister. The Camon case is simply an example of how our society undervalues teachers and takes a 13 year old’s word who doesn’t want to get in trouble over an adult educator. Clearly a questionable accusation. How can multiple students overhear a wisper? We are so quick to dismiss teachers as unqualified because of what little Sallie or little Jimmy said. I don’t know why anyone accepts a job that pays just above poverty wages for 70 hours of work per week only to have one kid who doesn’t want detention to destroy a career.

T.Steward

March 18th, 2010
10:19 am

Casey D I apologize for the error. I am just supporting a friend.
It must be wonderful to live in a perfect world where you or nobody else makes mistakes.

Sincerely,
T. Steward

You Asked

March 18th, 2010
10:20 am

I had a good friend in Illinois who was a fantastic teacher and a superior human being. Two girls who wanted to “get back at him” for disciplining them (he made them go out and stand in the hall because they were talking during choir rehearsal) made ugly allegations. The district refused to fund his legal defense or reimburse him even after the girls admitted in court that they had lied to get back at him for disciplining them. He lost his job, then his house then in despair his life.

On the other hand if someone is guilty of molesting a minor who they are in authority over the full force of the law should come down on them.

Casey D

March 18th, 2010
10:25 am

Dear Bobby: Teachers become teachers because it is the only job they can get, the only one they are qualified for on paper, but perhaps not in reality. They are not qualified to be physicians, nurses, engineers, lawyers, executives, MBA’s, or anything else other than teacher. There is now a glut of teachers, and it grows larger every year, especially with the massive National layoffs of teachers that is looming. In my opinion, only the math, science, and English teachers should be retained in the middle and high schools, and the reading and math teachers in elementary schools. All else is fluff. If children can read, they can learn history, geography, civics, and all the other material stuffed into schools today on their own. Music and art can be purchased by the parents in the private education market. Now lets eliminate property taxes.

You Asked

March 18th, 2010
10:31 am

Casey D- there is a proven high correlation between music instruction at a young age and the ability to process higher mathematics and language in later years. Don’t be so quick to throw parts of the curricula under the bus. There are better ways to cut costs- make due without having to have the latest technological gadgets, share services and cut administrative costs, etc. Go without cost of living or merit raises during tough times… the same things the other state employees have been doing the last few years.

Casey D

March 18th, 2010
10:38 am

Dear You Asked: A correlation is not proof, it is just a statistical test that indicates more research is need to either prove or disprove the correlation. I myself have no music skills, yet I am very good at math, with a BS and a MS in engineering. The world is full of music today, children listen to it constantly on ipods and other electronic devices, frequently to the detriment of more productive activities. The private sector offers music lessons at reasonable prices, and if we eliminate music education in schools, there will be many music teachers setting up shop to give lessons.

L. Black

March 18th, 2010
10:42 am

I worked with Mr. Camon for a year at Valdosta High School. Mr. Camon cared about his entire student body and their ability to succeed. Even when those students made false allegation bout Mr. Camon he still taught and loved all his student. (NO WEAPON FORMED AGAINST HIM SHALL PROSPER!) Mr. Camon you have my support. I know you will be GOVERNOR OF GEORGIA.

Isaiah 55:4
4Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people

CU Teacher

March 18th, 2010
10:55 am

Casey D – Did you really just make a comment like that? Maybe teachers are people who during high school decided they wanted to give BACK to others and help to educate the future of AMERICA!!!! As a person who graduated with a 4.0 in high school, got accepted to every school I applied to in Accounting, and now working on a Masters to help less fortunate children, I think you are the one who has it wrong. If we all decide to be doctors, lawyers, MBA, this country would end with this generation. No more kids would be taught and become the furture Ph.D, MBA, or any other degrees you want them to become. If children can read they can do everything else??? I’m surely glad you aren’t making educational decisions for our country. If that’s true then why the hell do doctors go to school and have a teacher teach them science and anatomy. Just give them a pile of books and say when you get done with this I’ll give you a degree. Reading does not equate to understanding knowledge. Knowledge has to be taught to be mastered and if noone teaches EVERYBODY doesn’t achieve. Sorry everybody wasn’t born rich and a genius to get their own. Maybe you should let the school your kids attend know that you want them to get all their assignments on their own and don’t want them taught in any subjects but english and math.

IGNORANCE WILL KILL THIS COUNTRY!!!!

MB

March 18th, 2010
11:06 am

Casey D is a prime example of a “I got mine” Republican.

You Asked

March 18th, 2010
11:08 am

Casey D. – Proof: http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/curr123.shtml

Early this decade, Gordon Shaw (University of California-Irvine) and Frances Rauscher (University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh) incited discussion of the connection between music and learning when they revealed the results of their work with college students. In the follow-up study, 78 preschoolers were given tests designed to measure spatial abilities. Then a fourth of those students then were given a 12-15 minute private piano lesson each week for six months. At the end of that period, the tests were administered again. The results confirmed the impact of music instruction on students’ spatial-reasoning skills. In another study, published by Martin Gardiner (currently at Brown University’s Center for the Study of Human Development) in the May 1996 issue of the journal Nature, groups of first graders were given music instruction that emphasized sequential skill development and musical games involving rhythm and pitch. After six months, the students scored significantly better in math than students in groups that received traditional music instruction.

Music is a team sport not just a series of private lessons. The same goes for physical education and other non-core subjects. Do you really want history taught by a grammar expert?

I am less than impressed with the posturing many candidates are making with recommendations to slash programs they don’t seem to know much about. (Full disclosure I have a degree in Music Education and an MS in business so I’ve see both worlds…)

buckshotannie

March 18th, 2010
11:45 am

I have worked in youth miistry for years and the cardinal rule is that you are never alone with a teen of the opposite sex. Never. It is totally inappropriate, and down right stupid considering our litiginous society. Even when you have a private talk, you make sure that someone can see into the room at all times. Either way, McBerry looks credibility; either he is a pervert or he’s too stupid to hold office.

buckshotannie

March 18th, 2010
11:45 am

sorry loses not looks credibility

Know the truth

March 18th, 2010
11:49 am

Mr. Camon, since you decided to come on here and give your side of the story, could you also tell everyone why you left your home town school system under similar circumstances. This is not your first time leaving a school system under cloudy circumstances.

Mr. Camon, you chose to leave your job, rather than face investigations and consequences. Resigning allows you to tell your side, while limiting what the schools can say about the case. Should you have stayed, all the facts would have come out and everyone would know the truth.

Using the Church as a shield for your decisions is also wrong. You and your wife have tried to solicit money for the purpose of “doing God’s work”, while at the same time begging creditors for forgiveness of your debts. Please explain this as well. I believe this to be important when trying to decide if you should be the leader of our state.

Atlantan

March 18th, 2010
11:50 am

Mr. Camon:

You have been wronged. Whether you are innocent or guilty of the charges against you should have been decided before a judge or jury, not a political entity such as the GPSC. If the only evidence against you is the word of students (who have obvious motive to lie) AND there were adults present at all times who did not confirm the students’ claims, then any lawyer (Heck, anyone who’s watched a Judge Judy rerun!) would have you acquitted in no time. What is more, your alleged actions, looking and whispering, are very much the sort of thing that a self-conscious teenager could misinterpret even if she wasn’t a psychopath. The fact that 22 people were interviewed makes their case even worse. If you’re a teacher who’s serious about discipline, then it shouldn’t be surprising that if they essentially start a rumor that you’re a pervert and then interview a bunch of your students about it, they’re going to find students who come up with stories to support that rumor.

The worst part is that it sounds like you were doing everything you could, short of videotaping all of your interactions with kids, to protect yourself against this sort of thing. You didn’t interact with students (especially problem students) when other adults weren’t present. It gives me chills to think that my relatives who work in Georgia schools could be condemned the way you have been, even if they are smart and conscientious and always try to do the right thing.

So, good luck with your fight. You don’t deserve it, but I hope you’ll see it through to the point of having the GPSC disciplinary system reformed.

wHITEY

March 18th, 2010
11:56 am

the word cracker comes from the white folks cracking corn. therefor i’m proud to be a CRACKER>

Carl Camon

March 18th, 2010
1:09 pm

To “Know the Truth”, I have never been suspended or found guilty of any inappropriate behavior at my home town school. I resigned because I chose to attend college full-time to work on my Master’s Degree (which at that time, the Veteran’s Adminstration required those receiving VA Benefits to do). I have a letter in my possession, from the Superintendent that thanked me for the service that I gave to the school system. As to your comments regarding using the church as a shield for my decisions, the scripture, as you should know, is applicable to any situation, especially those in which the accused is innocent. As to your comment regarding resigning, if you would have read the story, you would have known that I was falsely accused in 2007 and I resigned in 2009. How long do I have to stay to prove that I am innocent? As to your comments regarding my wife and I soliciting money for the purposes of doing God’s work, my response to that is that this is true, because we are trying to build a church, for our congregation, who are all low to moderate income members, without jobs. Any income that we have received, has been used for the purposes in which it was collected. Furthermore, my wife and I may have paid more in tithes and offerings in one year, than you probably make in a year. Furthermore, if you are privy to so much information about my wife and I (which is not true), as a good citizen, you should have come forward before now. The fact of the matter is, I am innnocent of any wrongdoing, and I am willing to stand up for what is right. Whether you are a believer in the Bible or not, God always provides a shield of protection for all of his people, and I would caution you about how you formulate future comments about any of God’s people, even the least of them. I didn’t just get to know God, when this story broke. I am proud to say that I have had and still have a strong relationship with Him, that is why I have the strength necessary to stand. I appreciate your interest and comments on this blog, because as governor, when untrue statements blaming citizens of Georgia for the problems our state is facing are made, I will stand on their behalf, just like I am standing up for myself and what I believe in. I will not respond any further to your comments by way of blog, but if you would like to give me a call to discuss your dislike for me and my wife, and your ill willed misinterpretations of the way we live our lives, I will be honored to accept your call. Just type in my name in your browser and my number should come right up.

God Bless,

Carl Camon, Ed.S
Candidate for Governor of Georgia
http://www.camonforgovernor.com

Perv. Carl Camon

March 18th, 2010
1:13 pm

Carl Camon,

You are a pervert, a child molester and a piece of garbage. Go back to whatever hole you crawled out from and leave our children alone. You betrayed our trust and your actions are unforgivable. Don’t quote the bible to us, you are a heretic! Just go away, far away and disappear

Mark

March 18th, 2010
1:27 pm

Hell, most Georgians are on this earth because their fathers slept with their mother-in-laws, nieces, aunts, and/or the family goat.

Not to fear, though. You ought to see with whom and/or what most Mississippi, Alabama, and South Carolina daddies prayed to Jesus. Hell, why do you think we wound up with Jefferson Beauregard Sessions and Haley Barbour?

[...] The original post said: According to state records, two candidates for governor — one Republican and one Democrat, both trained as high school educators — have had their teaching certificates suspended for misconduct involving female students. [...]

Lblack

March 18th, 2010
1:47 pm

@ Perv. Camon, you should be ashamed of yourself talking about a man you don`t know and especially a man of GOD. We don`t know what you are you maybe a pervert, a child molester and a piece of garbage. You may be racist. You can`t judge him you don`t know him.

Jesus tells us plainly that if we judge others, we too will be judged. We are to leave judgment up to God alone

L.black

March 18th, 2010
1:54 pm

@ know the Truth,

Jesus tells us plainly that if we judge others, we too will be judged. We are to leave judgment up to God alone. you don`t know the Camon`s like that.

L.black

March 18th, 2010
1:59 pm

Mr. Camon, GOD has a shield over you an your family for all these sick people on here. GOD knows you and thats all that matters. we will just have to pray for all these people and their crazy comments. LOVE U AND YOUR FAMILY. YOUR A TRUE MAN OF GOD. just know satin is on this site.

L.black

March 18th, 2010
2:13 pm

excuse the error SATAN is On THIS SITE

T.Gould

March 18th, 2010
2:14 pm

I know Mr. Camon to be a consistant, fair, and loyal person. He understands the role of the teacher today and stuggles that are faced. I am voting for him because I can truly say he is who he says he is and stands by his word. Georgia needs a Governer who will stand for all Georgians and not just those of a certain class.

Just wondering

March 18th, 2010
2:18 pm

What is innocency?

whatever

March 18th, 2010
3:19 pm

So long Ray……..too bad u wasted all those campaign volunteers time……

Carolyn Pflasterer

March 18th, 2010
3:20 pm

Are there any male politicians out there who can keep their pants zipped?

Maxine

March 18th, 2010
3:56 pm

If I were a supporter of either of the candidates, I would give them the benefit of the doubt as there is a huge possibility of details taken out of context, and politicians are too often critiqued by their personal lives rather than their policies.

Now having said that, I am puzzled that most are not concentrating on the facts that would discredit Ray McBerry in the eyes of the Georgia voters. That one being that he refuses to say the pledge of allegiance to the US flag. This is something he will not deny or that he is a board member of the League of the South which is a very controversial organization.