A former Ku Klux Klan leader who qualified for office is no longer eligible to run, according to reports.
Chester Doles said his affidavit to run for a commissioner of a north Georgia county was approved in early March. CBS 46 reports that the Georgia Republican Party flagged his application because of his criminal record.
Doles said he is looking for a civil rights attorney to fight the decision.
“If this has to be interpreted for them by the courts, then so be it,” Doles said. “They’ve caused me major damages. I have thousands of dollars in campaign signs billboards that have been pledged for [and] radio commercials.”
Doles, a felon, was sentenced to four years in prison for federal weapons charges in 2003 and convicted for beating a Black man in 1993. He campaigned for a seat on the Lumpkin County Board of Commissioners in this year’s election.
Georgia law allows people who have been convicted of a felony to run for office if at least 10 years have passed since they completed their sentence and their rights have been restored. They must also pay all fines and fees and avoid committing any more felonies.
Doles told reporters that he had gotten his rights restored last year. Georgians must submit an application to the State Board of Pardons and Paroles for rights restoration. Doles has a copy of his stamped and signed application, dated March 8.
On the same day, Doles said in a tweet he was “fully qualified as a candidate,” and “all filing fees have been filed and paid.”
However, CBS 46 reports that the Georgia Republican Party found that Doles did not get his rights restored in time to qualify for the race.
It is unclear if Doles filed an application or completed the process for rights restoration. His name is not among the list of Lumpkin County candidates on Georgia’s secretary of state’s website.
The candidacy affidavit requires applicants to swear that they are not “knowingly” making “any false statements” or be “subject” “to criminal penalties.”
Doles was once the Grand Klaliff of the Invisible Empire, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. He was also a member of the Nazi political organization, National Alliance and Hammerskins, a racist skinhead gang. However, Doles said he has changed paths and “renounced racism.”
In an earlier interview with CBS 46, he compared himself to Black civil rights leaders Hosea Williams and the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis.
“If you look at Hosea Williams, he was on the City Council. He was arrested 168 times. Congressman John Lewis, he was arrested 68 times, so that’s not a reason to disqualify someone,” Doles said. “Don’t matter if you’re out there for the civil rights movement, then I’m a white civil rights activist then.”
Doles ran his campaign on American patriotism and “anti-wokeness.”