Posted: 9:00 am Saturday, July 12th, 2014

The case of a black Republican at Georgia GOP headquarters 

By Jim Galloway

As hard as it is to be a black Republican in Georgia, Qiana Keith was no late-comer.

In 2010, with the general election only a week away, the Gainesville volunteer posted a photo of herself with former congressman Nathan Deal, then seeking his first term as governor.

“While Nathan may not need the black vote to win, he sure needs it to govern,” she wrote. Her Facebook friends were not kind. One questioned how she could vote for a man who had uttered the phrase “ghetto grandmothers” in front of a north Georgia crowd.

A picture of 2010 Republican candidate for governor Nathan Deal and Qiana Keith, posted on her Facebook page.

A picture of 2010 Republican candidate for governor Nathan Deal and Qiana Keith, posted on her Facebook page.

Even then, Keith had been a Republican volunteer for several years, drawn into the orbit of radio talk show host Martha Zoller. Keith volunteered, and served as an occasional driver, in Zoller’s unsuccessful GOP bid for Congress in 2012.

So several months later, when newly elected state GOP chairman John Padgett of Athens was looking for someone to work the front office and serve as his personal aide, Zoller recommended Keith.

“I did suggest her,” the WGAU (1340AM) radio personality said this week. With her endorsement, Zoller also passed on some information that Keith had been upfront about: In 2002, Keith had pleaded guilty to car theft, a felony, in Montana.

But she had remade herself, graduating from the University of Georgia, and so fit well with a new Republican effort to reach out to Hispanics and African-Americans.

Except the fit wasn’t so great.

Less than a year later, Keith was fired. The Georgia GOP’s attorney said she was sacked for “poor job performance.” In a federal lawsuit filed last week, Keith said she was canned after she had complained of a racially hostile work environment.

Following a spat over parking spaces, a supervisor had ordered her to use one at the back of the lot. A white aide was chosen to accompany Padgett to events. Her Montana conviction became the stuff of office gossip.

Worse, Keith said she overheard the party’s accounting director refer to her with plantation-era language: “Don’t worry about her. She is just the house (racial epithet).”

The stories told by each side are far enough apart to say that someone isn’t being truthful. But we are many years and many, many depositions away from determining who that might be.

Suspicious Republicans are already noting that Keith’s attorney, Kim Worth, also represented Stacey Kalberman, the top staffer of the state ethics commission, who said she had been sacked for opening an investigation into Deal’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign for governor. A Fulton County jury recently awarded Kalberman $1.15 million in compensation and attorney fees.

Nonetheless, the Keith lawsuit poses immediate, short-term dangers for the Georgia GOP.

Fundraising for the party could take a hit if donors think their cash might be destined to become part of a jury award.

More importantly, the lawsuit undermines significant steps Republicans have taken to prove that they aren’t just a political rest home for aging whites.

That earth-moving equipment across from the state Capitol, for instance – creating a park likely to bear the name of Martin Luther King Jr.

“Nobody wants to be talking about this now. We’re trying to get Republicans elected,” said Ashley Bell, an African-American Republican and former Hall County commissioner. He has known Keith for years.

But over the long term, regardless of what might someday happen in a federal courtroom, the lawsuit makes one thing exceedingly clear: In the 50 years since they were the multi-racial party in Georgia, Republicans have become rusty when dealing with the nitty-gritty issues of building a racial alliance.

You saw it last month in Mississippi, in tea-party protests over U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran’s decision to recruit African-American Democrats into his Republican runoff.

The Keith lawsuit shares a certain cluelessness with a 2011 settlement that was finally disclosed last week. That settlement went to a 61-year-old, African-American secretary for a pair of state GOP senators. She says she was abruptly dismissed after being told she wasn’t the face they wanted to greet their voters. The hushed-up payout was $80,500.

One of the senators was Barry Loudermilk of Cassville, now in a congressional runoff against Bob Barr.

If even half accurate, the Keith lawsuit shows that the Georgia GOP has none of the standard protocols in place that you would see in most businesses – specifically designed to defuse racial dust-ups before they become lawsuits.

You can argue over whether an organization that is color-blind by philosophy should concede that point in its own workplace.

But here’s something that’s more difficult to ignore: If you hire an African-American woman to be the face of your front office, to walk by your white chairman’s side at public gatherings, then you are making a statement. A worthy statement.

That very act also puts you under an obligation to make sure that your statement succeeds – and doesn’t blow up in your face

333 comments
LegolasMirkwood
LegolasMirkwood

It's not a murder case?  Color me pleasantly surprised.

HANK55
HANK55

THE MOST RACIST PEOPLE ARE BLACK. THE COMMENTS HERE PROVE IT.

JaySly
JaySly

this uncle tom need to come back to her people--republicans just care about rich white people.  i'm tired of this.

Hot-Ice
Hot-Ice

You know, if we banned name-calling on this blog, we'd barely see any posts at all.

palepadre
palepadre

I really get tired of people who make generalized comments. No one is perfect everyone has an issue they believe in. I am in my 60s I visit a nursing home once a week because  the majority  can't get out and many are forgotten. I was born and grew up poor until I was 11 and my mother married, because my real father ran off. I don't get it about hating gays? One president actually said about the possibility of gay soldiers. "I don't care if they're gay or straight, as long as they can shoot straight." I have a feeling it's too late to change your mind and it must've been something really terrible in your life to make you so bitter.

taters
taters

Georgia republicans are just like all the rest of the southern repugnicats...homophobic bigots who hate the poor, gay, and elderly.

Bayonet
Bayonet

I live in a black neighborhood, but I'm not black...yet, most of my associates are.  If you want to REALLY talk about racism, you ought to listen to the dialogues of bigotry that flow freely...and I mean without shame or discretion...amongst the African-American community.  Man, talk about race obsession (by the way, notice how most hip-hop songs have to include lines about "blackness"?  you'd never hear country songs today talking about being white!)!!!  Talk about pure bitter unadulterated hate!!! BTW, a week after I moved in about ten years back, the neighborhood kids were pelting my house with rocks.  When I caught one, he literally said...in front of his parents mind you....that he did it because I'm white.  A couple of good neighbors stepped in and it was stopped; although the parents of one of the kids said they'd never apologize---I still don't talk to them, they're plain up racists. 

    So, if America wants to have an honest talk about going forward the subject of racism...you gotta know that there is pure vile hate in the heart of minorities----who've convinced themselves (with the help of Demo-tards) that it's not racism to hate people just because they're white.  In fact, hating someone who is white, is merely "social justice".  And condoned.  But the hate is very, very, very real folks.   Until that is factored in the equation, forget the premise of a 'color blind society'; for some folks, color is ALL THEY CARE ABOUT. 

Bernie31
Bernie31

There is no such thing as a Black Republican...Those who call themselves and identify by that Name are really "IMITATORS".

atlfalconno1fan
atlfalconno1fan

as a white male in my 60,s its amazing we cant let go of this racial division grip we have here in Atlanta and Georgia..thats the reason as a whole the metro area looks like it was planned by a 6 yr old..the metro area could be wonderful with a downtown like portland or Seattle or SAN FRAN..but race here plays still a huge factor mostly among older folks.. my kids 20,and 30,sliving in Seattle could care less about race as well as thier friends..my oldest son even married a beautiful black woman(my daughter in law is stunningly beautiful cardiologist in Seattle) the older folks however here in the deep south keep that racial fire alive here its almost like the 1950.s here in the 9th largest metro area.......... at my country club the racist talk is stunning and appalling and yes i have turned red at some of the comments..i told my wife if blacks knew how some whites feel here and do business it wouldnt be such a popular place for blacks to flock to...metro atlanta and its way of thinking amazes me that the 1996 olympics were held here as well as various other events...its also a reason Atlanta has so many traffic and other issues unsolved........ race still a factor...deep.deep racial hatred here is still alive here in the deep south...

GwinnettDad
GwinnettDad

Of course the author of this piece doesn't have his own political bias, and wouldn't write a piece to just satisfy his own prejudices.


That could never happen on such a reasonable and centrist source of journalism as the AJC, could it?



Acworthdon
Acworthdon

Just read all of these comments not really understanding all of the things going on here but wow, good thing

tomorrow is Sunday and I sincerely hope all of you take your hate and lay it down on the alter and ask God to

forgive your evil side. Yes, you also have a good side I'm sure but none of it is shown here at this site today. 

Everyone of us have the right to sound off but only evil comes from hate.  

styymy
styymy

Come on did she REALLY think the party was going to accept her??? They want to be inclusive but then you have all the smaller factions that interact directly with constituents going rogue disrupting their efforts. The right hand doesn't know what the left is doing in that party.

almmanduane75
almmanduane75

You can find the segregated Democratic groups in all of the housing projects.


Have a nice day everyone.

HarveyPooka
HarveyPooka

Could Deal not have picked an uglier shirt?  Pretty obvious that his wardrobe consultant should be fired.

MI550
MI550

This story is so troubling in so many ways.  What wasn't reported is that Martha Zoller, her so-called friend who got her the job has been spreading trash about her since the lawsuit was filed.  Even worst the bloggers on Peach Pundit, the Georgia GOP leaning blog are offering money for embarrassing pictures or information about Qiana Keith and her family.  Her lawsuit must be scaring people

Bernie31
Bernie31

Felony Auto Theft! She is with the right Political Party....uh...huh.


anothercomment
anothercomment

I am sorry, but White, black or purple I would not hire anyone who has a felony auto theft conviction to be the face of my office.  Minor drug convictions when people are under 21 are another thing. This person not only convicted a crime, she has no moral compass. She stole another persons property, and broke one of the ten commandments.  She has much more if she did not have first offender standing from something in 2002 and a clear record by 2014. Especially from a Midwestern or Northern State. If it was not removed with first offender status, it was a car jacking with a loaded gun or part of some other Felony and this is the lowest felony. I hired all the way from Blue collar construction workers to Professionals. You learn to read between the lines to avoid hiring mistakes.


The person who buried the woman alive, in the 1970's, and the book was written about this case actually applied for a job at my employer.  That application went out to any hiring manager with a sticky note, to any manager that said read " the convicted felon box", google the name".  This was after the Person from  HR called the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles and said you really let him out on Parole.  There also happened to be a lot of folks having lunch with HR or drinks off the clock. 


I have also on the other hand stood up with the Security office and told them that misdemeanor terroristic threats with a year or less of probation, is the new plea bargain on a domestic abuse battery or assault charge. It allows a guy to keep his hunting rifle, go to anger management, come with a stay away from the wife or ex-girlfriend. But it does not in any words mean he is threatening the Government, or is a domestic terrorist.


I will also do work release on a good construction work on a drug charge from jail, for a commercial construction project. You pick them up and drop them off at the jail M-F and they are clean. You pay them significantly less than their normal wages, so your project looks great. You have a worker that comes back to you grateful.


Bernie31
Bernie31

@HANK55 - Hank you need to spend a few minutes in a Dictionary....Your Choice! for what you will find that the definition of a Racist LQQKS more like you! Check it out if you dare...you are bout to learn sumpin!


Chuck_UGA
Chuck_UGA

What a simple-minded, pinheaded idiot taters must be. Stereotyping is always welcomed and accepted when directed at the right (or even center), but God forbid you direct that at the left! What jerks.....

td1234
td1234

@taters Sure we do. 


I guess wanting people to do the right thing, get educated, work hard, not have children out of wedlock and not become hooked on drugs is hate in your world but in my world to force a person to become dependent on the government and take away all their hope to make a better life for themselves is the true hate. 

Stuffy
Stuffy

@Bayonet Yeah right. I wonder who is gullible enough to believe this story? Let me tell you where you went wrong.....with your first sentence. A white guy who moved INTO a Black neighborhood? Please.......


And this alleged dialogue of bigotry, they are having it with you? That doesn't even make sense. 



As for "most"  hip-hop songs including lines about blackness, name 3 of them. I'll wait while you google.

Chuck_UGA
Chuck_UGA

Bayonet is correct and speaks about his neighborhood, but this is not always the case. There are plenty of neighborhoods in the Atlanta suburbs that co-exist without hostility.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@Bayonet 

I live in a black neighborhood...

Of course you do, and I live at the Playboy Mansion.

If you want to REALLY talk about racism, you ought to listen to the dialogues of bigotry that flow freely...

Got proof?

You ought to listen to what Victoria"s Secret supermodels whisper in my ear.

td1234
td1234

@Bayonet Yep, hate and bigotry runs both ways but the progressives will not admit it to save their lives. 

td1234
td1234

@atlfalconno1fan Racial hated runs both ways. It is not just whites that have the hatred and discriminate. Look at the proven reverse discrimination cases in Fulton county and the city of Atlanta over the past 10 years or so. 

honested
honested

@Acworthdon 

Probably not.

But I will think of you while I have some coffee and watch CBS Sunday morning.

NavalAviator
NavalAviator

@styymy Yeah we haven't taken a liking to Herman Cain, Dr. Ben Carson or Condy Rice.  Despite what you think, very few of us are racists.  Most of us share a live-and-let-live philosophy that despises the constant meddling of liberals in the lives of others.  Come to think of it, you know it was liberals that gave you such stellar social justice accomplishments as housing projects, vocational schools and labor unions that have driven jobs from inner cities in droves.


Perhaps you should listen to black conservatives with an independent mindset.  They see their people being a commodity, being offered a pittance in exchange for their votes - their lives never get better - the crime, unemployment, addiction and reliance on the system only get worse.


Look at the 20 poorest cities in the US - not a Republican hand has been laid upon them for decades, yet they continue to decay.  So my contention is that white liberals, who need to be the hero of every story, even if it harms those they intend to help, have caused exponentially more damage to the black community than conservatives have.  The real racists are white liberals that treat minorities like children; incapable of taking care of any facet of their lives.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@almmanduane75 

You can find the segregated Democratic groups in all of the housing projects.

And there's your sign.

lithoniaguy
lithoniaguy

@MI550  Davis done left the gop plantation. She done got too uppity.

lithoniaguy
lithoniaguy

@anothercomment 


none of u conservatives are addressing the claims of racism by Davis. instead you seem mad that she filed the lawsuit, not that she was discriminated against....typical 

sssinff
sssinff

@anothercomment Ah yes, make it about this woman, not the action by the party that confirm our worst opinions about republicans....

Miss_Scorp
Miss_Scorp

@td1234 "RIGHT THINGS" according to WHO????  So all people with the circumstances you named are dependent on the government???

Chuck_UGA
Chuck_UGA

Kamchatka piping in again with more lies ans misrepresentation.

lithoniaguy
lithoniaguy

@NavalAviator 


Carson , Cain are just entertainers for the racist gop'ers.They repeat the same lies as Junkie Limbaugh, Palin, Cruz.  Theyre about as independent as a slave.

Manny38
Manny38

Exactly, a typical GOP response. Interesting that person making the comments wouldn't hire a person with a felony for car theft. Then added that her crime must have included car jacking, or a gun? Really?

Talk about breaking commandments, which one applies to making BS up just to start trouble or add fuel to the fire.

Yet it's OK to hire a young person with a drug conviction? How stupid is this person. Stealing a car is an impulsive act to satisfy an immediate need, a person on drugs has dependency issues. Much like alcohol, it will always a challenge staying drug free.

The GOP hired her, she was honest about her past and didn't hide it, it shouldn't be an issue.

I don't understand the ramblings about a book writer who tried to get a job where they worked? A book writer looking for a normal job? Secondly, being hiring manager, most of what was written and the process, sticky notes, and then calling the Georgia pardons and parole? That's not even legal.

It shouldn't surprise anyone the people make up that kind of crap, when it actually has nothing to do with the topic at hand.

anothercomment
anothercomment

@sssinff @anothercomment  It is called you have to have common sense when you hire people and hire people with good moral compass, no matter what color they are.


I built a very diverse work force by hiring the best candidate. I also, looked at DD214, learned that people falsify college transcripts the hard way ( so you have to personally call the registrars office at the University and ask if they have the Degree they claim and the dates of attendance and GPA).


We all make hiring mistakes. There are some benchmarks for flaws in moral character whether the person is purple, blue, orange, white, yellow, tan or black.  Why do you think many companies even have people take a 400 question personality test. To find out if a person might have personality flaws, if they might be a malinger, if they might think it is okay to pocket a few hundred thousand dollars or fifty.  ( My daughter, was just offered a personal invitation to apply at a bank, her application will be fast tracked. I told her she will be required to move her bank account, and her pay will be direct deposited, and her finances will be monitored. She was like what. I said oh yes, I worked for a bank for 3 years, my office was next to the Executive over Security).

sssinff
sssinff

@anothercomment I can agree with you there. Their mistake was hiring a black woman when the organization does little to cater to that demographic. 


If her claims are true, things will be easily verifiable by the GOP's own email and paper records. Either way, this is terrible press for a party that has a notoriously difficult time appealing to group besides old white people.

Shar1
Shar1

@sssinff @anothercomment This woman came to the GOP office with the recommendation of a party stalwart who had worked with her as a volunteer and staffer for some period of time.  She was also very honest about her felony record with the people who needed to know and did not deserve to have that privileged information bandied about and used to taunt her.  It is improper and misleading to state that Keith "has no moral compass" or to conflate her crime with murderers, malingerers or embezzlers.  According to the complaint Keith filed, she was subject to racist remarks and discriminatory treatment by people she did not report to, and her supervisor repeatedly failed to investigate or step in.  Her work reports were uniformly positive until she was summarily fired for "performance related problems."


If her accusations are true, the Georgia GOP needs to recognize and address racism in its ranks.  The fact that the GOP and its supporters are embarrassed and angry over the public airing of issues it failed to deal with internally is not Keith's fault, and it is tantamount to a smear to suggest that she has "personality flaws" or that she is in any way comparable to a murderer.