GOP senator abandons leadership duties after his computer linked to anti-Cagle e-mails

One day after his computer was linked to a barrage of incendiary e-mails allegedly from a 55-year-old female Republican volunteer, Cecil Staton of Macon excused himself from his duties as Senate majority whip, a spokesman confirmed Tuesday.

Staton announced his decision during a Republican caucus meeting, declaring that the issue had become a distraction at a critical time. He maintained that he did not pose as the mysterious “Beth Merkleson,” who wrote a series of e-mails attacking Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, the spokesman said.

State Sen. Cecil Staton, R-Macon, in a 2009 photo while he was chairman of the Science and Technology Committee/AJC file.

State Sen. Cecil Staton, R-Macon, in a 2009 photo while he was chairman of the Science and Technology Committe/AJC file.

Through the spokesman, who insisted on remaining unnamed, Staton said he was having an Internet technician investigate the incident.

Sen. Greg Goggans, R-Douglas, will assume Staton’s duties during the final two days of the legislative session.

The incident is an apparent outgrowth of a six-month struggle for control of the Senate between Cagle and Republican senators who want a chamber controlled by its membership – as is the U.S. Senate.

Staton was one of the organizers of the November meeting in Macon, where Cagle was stripped of most of his authority – three days after his statewide re-election.

Over the last week, Capitol insiders and Republican activists have received near daily e-mails from a woman who called herself Beth Merkleson, and pronounced her self outraged by Cagle’s attempt to reassert his authority as president of the Senate.

“I am trying, though I feel like a lone voice at times, to get Republicans to wake up and demand that their Senators behave like Republicans and reject Cagle’s power grab. If we don’t, we’ll have one mad power hungry and immoral man in charge of one half of the legislative branch of Georgia,” she wrote.

Merkleson, who proclaimed herself as a computer novice, railed against senators who allied with Cagle, and even asked the chairman of the Habersham County GOP to drum up a primary opponent for state Sen. Jim Butterworth, R-Cornelia. Merkleson passed on resolutions of support for the anti-Cagle position, to be adopted by district GOP conventions over the weekend.

On Monday, members of the Senate Republican Caucus today were handed a 10-page report compiled by Arch Adams of Hartwell, an Internet junkie and campaign contributor to Butterworth, who says Merkleson and Staton shared the same computer IP address on Saturday, 19 minutes apart.

Read the report here, and the original post here.

According to data from the secretary of state’s office, there is no Beth or Elizabeth Merkleson registered to vote in Georgia. Searches on Nexus turn up no evidence that such a person exists.

From the Macon Telegraph:

A spokesman for Cagle’s office called the allegations against Staton “troubling,” adding that Cagle trusts the GOP caucus to make any investigation or take any action necessary.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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58 comments Add your comment

ProgressivePeach

April 12th, 2011
2:59 pm

Oh, you wacky Republicans! That’s why we Georgians put you in charge. Because we knew if we sent the village idiots to the Gold Dome, they wouldn’t be in our village.

Tiberius

April 12th, 2011
3:11 pm

A black eye for former college professors everywhere.

Thank God he lost that U.S. House race years ago. Imagine what embarrassment he could have brought on if he did something like this on a national scale.

eduprin

April 12th, 2011
3:24 pm

The in-fighting continues. Democrats take note.

south of the gnatline

April 12th, 2011
3:25 pm

To atone for his deception, I think ol’ Cecil ought to be required to appear dressed up as Beth Merkleson, complete with wig, miniskirt, and high heels.

GaBlue

April 12th, 2011
3:27 pm

jconservative

April 12th, 2011
3:29 pm

Cross dresser? Is that the correct term?

Wade

April 12th, 2011
3:32 pm

I wonder if Staton dressed in women’s clothing to send the e-mails.

Never mind that!!! awful picture, awful picture!!!

Aquagirl

April 12th, 2011
3:38 pm

Thanks for that mental image, Wade. Can somebody pass me the brain bleach?

Einsteindawg

April 12th, 2011
3:42 pm

Anyone know the occupation of Sen Cecil Staton?

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

April 12th, 2011
3:44 pm

Fortunately Cecil isn’t from Georgia.

False Identity « The Grit Tree

April 12th, 2011
3:45 pm

[...] It just gets better. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Why I Post Under a PseudonymOrigins of My Pseudonym and My Blog’s NamePseudonym LikeBe the first to like this post. [...]

Question Man

April 12th, 2011
3:59 pm

Shouldn’t Staton also resign from the Legislature? In Staton’s own words, isn’t he a “mad power hungry and immoral man?”

Internet Technician

April 12th, 2011
4:02 pm

After thoroughly investigating Mr. Staton’s PC and the server to which it is linked, I have come to the conclusion that this is absolutely hysterical. Now where is that photo of him holding a misspelled sign at a Tea Party rally last year?

Clinton "Skink" Tyree

April 12th, 2011
4:03 pm

I don’t know what he does, but what he did was really stupid. So, whatever it is he does you don’t have to be very smart to do it.

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

April 12th, 2011
4:09 pm

He’s got degrees from Furman, in his home state of South Carolina, and from Oxford in England, har-de-har-har.

Einsteindawg

April 12th, 2011
4:10 pm

Thanks “Skink”…you’re correct. I’m guessing he got elected because he was a pretty good speaker, promising his constituents a lot of things. Maybe he’s a lawyer or motivational speaker. Anyway, wouldn’t it be great if we had a moritorium on new laws for the next three years, and just addressed reducing spending? We don’t have a revenue problem, we have an expense problem.

Wade

April 12th, 2011
4:18 pm

Staton’s occupation accordingto the offical GA General Assembly site is “Publishing and Broadcasting”. It didn’t mention whether it was fiction or nonfiction.

Proof Read?

April 12th, 2011
4:20 pm

Does anybody proof-read/edit these articles before they post them? Geeze, is his name Cecil Station, or Cecil Staton?

So easy a caveman could do it!

Aquagirl

April 12th, 2011
4:24 pm

Wiki says Mr Staton/Station/Merkleson owns TV and radio stations, and a couple of publishing businesses.

sideshow bill

April 12th, 2011
4:24 pm

From Wikipedia:
“Born in Greenville, South Carolina, Staton graduated from Carolina High School in 1976, where he served as President of the student body. He graduated from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina in 1980. He earned Master of Divinity with Languages (1982) and Master of Theology (1985) degrees from Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina focusing on Hebrew, the Old Testament, and ancient near eastern studies. He earned a DPhil from University of Oxford (Regent’s Park College, Oxford) in 1988.[citation needed]

Staton served as professor at Brewton-Parker College in Georgia from 1989 through 1991. He served Mercer University for more than eleven years, as Associate Provost, Associate Professor, and Publisher of the Mercer University Press.”

Ah, the M.Div. didn’t seem to teach him much about Thou Shall Not Lie, unless he got a family or staff member to do it.

Aquagirl

April 12th, 2011
4:25 pm

Oh, and since his business published Zell Miller’s books, I’m betting “fiction.”

Wondering

April 12th, 2011
4:29 pm

If two people using Blackberrys (sic) are behind the same firewall or network using Port Address Translation (PAT), a common technology, they would show the same IP (that of the PAT), same OS (Blackberry OS), and most likely the same browser type (the Blackberry browser). If this is a free access point, it only means the two sessions originated from that location. It does not mean they originated on the same Blackberry.

The PAT logs would need to be checked to see which TCP ports were associated with which Blackberrys (sic) at the proper point in time. Most sites don’t keep these logs very long, if at all.

Barry

April 12th, 2011
4:32 pm

Arch Adams deserves to be commended for smoking out Staton’s deception. Staton/Merkelson’s tactics have no place in politics, and he has no place in the Senate. He shouldn’t stop with resigning his leadership post, but should resign from the Senate, period.

Freedom lover

April 12th, 2011
4:33 pm

Anarcho-Capitalism sounds like the right alternative to this failed experiment with government.

NotReally

April 12th, 2011
4:36 pm

Nice theory, but, the IP address in the report was not from a Blackberry. It was issued by Cox Communications. More importantly it was a static IP (the kind of thing businesses pay extra for when they want to host their own content). If you’re really crafty you can figure out what business owns this Cox static IP. (here’s a hint: Port: 8000)

Serious Robuck

April 12th, 2011
4:42 pm

I hope Mr. Staton doesn’t now try to pose as a statesman. What a clown car the legislature is!

Relieved

April 12th, 2011
4:54 pm

I’m just relieved that the GOP never tries these immoral tactics when taking on other parties. I’m just glad that they only conduct themselves in this dishonorable fashion amongst each other but treat their political opponents with the highest level of civility and southernly charm.

DaveDawg96

April 12th, 2011
4:59 pm

I find it sad that these politicians invest so much time and energy into their plotting and schemes. What empty, shallow lives they must have.

WAW

April 12th, 2011
5:03 pm

Baptist just bow their heads and close their eyes on cue. Nothing will come of this. Just more Republicans being Republicans. Did I mention Donald Trump?

Big John

April 12th, 2011
5:09 pm

Staton has to go. Asking people to pray for a mother who is sick who does not exist. There has to be a psychological study that can be done of Cecil Staton.

Great Job Arch Adams. A UGA graduate undoes an Oxford PHD.

Aquagirl

April 12th, 2011
5:11 pm

Aside from geek gratification, what’s with all the tech discussion of IP’s and ports? If she was real, don’t you think Beth Merkleson would have shown up by now?

R U Kidding Me?

April 12th, 2011
5:12 pm

After 10-15 years of “No Tax Increases” politicians, look at what has happened to Georgia:

Corporate Income Taxes are down 46% per capita

Personal Income Taxes are down 26% per capita

Sales Tax Revenue are down 31% per capita

Overall Revenue to the State down 27% per capita over the past 10 years

Roads and bridges are crumbling; education is a national joke; our water runs out next year; and we can’t even provide the basic services anymore. You want cheap government? Well that’s what we’ve had for the past decade and Georgia has now become the new Mississippi. We’ve lost our competitive edge. If you needed an operation tomorrow, would you shop around for the cheapest doctor? I don’t want the cheapest brain surgeon and I don’t want the cheapest government.

It’s the far-right crazies like Tommie Williams, Chip Rogers, Don Balfour, Jeff Mullis, Barry Loudermilk, and Cecil Staton that have promoted this GOP sham. They have proven they are completely incapable of governing this state. While they play on the internet and write bogus emails attacking each other, worry about micro-chips in the brain, light bulbs and road kill, our great state just went to hell in a handbasket. I’m sick of these clowns!

Big John

April 12th, 2011
5:12 pm

One other thing. Staton said he was going to have his own “IT Expert” look into all of this. That is like a man on death row appointing the judge to hear his appeal.

I understand Senator John Albers is an “IT Expert” I would like to hear what he has to say.

td

April 12th, 2011
5:13 pm

This guy needs to go. If he does not resign then his constituents need to remove him from office.

Big John

April 12th, 2011
5:16 pm

Notreally

Don’t beat around the bush. Tell us what you know.

Stacy Jones

April 12th, 2011
5:22 pm

A friend at the capitol told me John Albers is an IT expert and poured over Arch Adams data and declared it as authentic.

Dudley Dowright

April 12th, 2011
5:27 pm

Staton owns radio stations and I believe print media in the Macon area. He has often joked that if anyone runs against him they would have to pay him for advertising they use in their campaigns.

KILJOY

April 12th, 2011
5:29 pm

Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to……….be a repulican!!!!!

Michael

April 12th, 2011
5:33 pm

Don’t these republidolts know to use a clearwire paddle modem to send cryptic emails!

This is Mrs. Norman Maine

April 12th, 2011
5:45 pm

Another proud day for Georgia.

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

April 12th, 2011
5:51 pm

Another twerp in the vein of Glenn Richardson, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich, John Boehner…. Gee how clear could it be that non-men are picking non-men to “lead” them?

[...] Because our Senate is ran by Children [...]

Alabama Communist

April 12th, 2011
6:12 pm

He maintained that he did not pose as the mysterious “Beth Merkleson,” who wrote a series of e-mails attacking Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, the spokesman said.* Story..

More Breaking News On Mysterious Internet Republican Women….The Spokensman for the LT Gov said today that so far they have not confirmed rumors that the Senator was cross dressing transgender Republican Gay Striper on loan from the Pink Club in Midtown. However! He did confirmed that he was still a Republican and could be reach at his Senate Office in Midtown.

Bill Knowles

April 12th, 2011
6:34 pm

Staton denies that he has stepped down from Majority Whip position. Read this:

http://wearepolitics.com/posts/breaking-news-staton-says-ajc-is-wrong-he-is-still-majority-whip

Callahan

April 12th, 2011
6:54 pm

I’m curious, has Beth Merkleson stepped forward yet to clear Cecil Staton’s name? A pity for her to stay in the shadows when poor Cecil faces prosecution for violating O.C.G.A. § 16-9-93.1 “Misleading transmittal and use of individual name, trade name, registered trademark, logo, legal or official seal, or copyrighted symbol over computer or telephone network; criminal penalty; civil remedies “.
http://law.justia.com/codes/georgia/2010/title-16/chapter-9/article-6/part-1/16-9-93-1/

Only a misdemeanor but still, even a year in jail is a year too long for an innocent man. The venue provision (16-9-94) is crazy… “in any county from which, to which, or through which any use of a computer or computer network was made, whether by wires, electromagnetic waves, microwaves, or any other means of communication”. I just hoped Cecil isn’t alleged to to have sent those emails to too terribly many counties, the fewer solicitors or DAs who can take a whack at this pinata the better. Its bad enough that each email is a separate and independent crime.
p.s. So as not to mislead the reader, let me make clear, my name is NOT really Callahan.

Cecil aka Beth

April 12th, 2011
8:10 pm

Another sad day in politics.

Beth aka Cecil

April 12th, 2011
8:49 pm

my legs are nicer than Cecil’s legs but he should give me back my pantyhose and red lace bra.

Ann Jones

April 12th, 2011
8:58 pm

I believe Arch Adams also works for State Representative Alan Powell. The new “Super Republican” from Northeast Georgia. Could it be that Powell wants to move to the Senate? Great job Arch!

Sam Bennett

April 12th, 2011
9:12 pm

Ann Jones

Arch actually ran against Alan Powell in 2002 for his state house seat.

Not really me

April 12th, 2011
9:15 pm

“They have proven they are completely incapable of governing this state. While they play on the internet and write bogus emails attacking each other, worry about micro-chips in the brain, light bulbs and road kill, our great state just went to hell in a handbasket.”

RU:
Well said. I keep hoping that common sense will shake people out of their trance.