Brad Thomas Takes Ownership of Georgia Freedom Caucus

Editor’s Note: For the sake of clarity, the word, “ownership,” is used in this article in its slang meaning. Or as Google puts it: In slang, “own” can mean to totally defeat, embarrass, or ridicule someone. For example, “you’ve been owned” means you’ve been beaten, humiliated, or thoroughly defeated. Brad Thomas is not a member of the Georgia Freedom Caucus, and we do not wish to defame him as such. Further, Rep. Thomas didn’t ask for this note, we just thought it would be wise to add it so no one is confused.

It is no secret my professional work is in election policy. As a legitimate policy nerd, I find myself from time to time gathering with people from across the ideological spectrum who are concerned with election integrity, confidence, and the health of democracy in our Republic. Last year I found myself at such a gathering that left me, as the kids say, shook.

Between presenters a voice came over the loud speakers, “And now, a special message from the President of the United States,” and a video greeting from Joe Biden began to play on the large screens. President Biden began by welcoming everyone to the conference and praising them for their work in defending democracy in America. Pretty vanilla stuff. And then he said, “now that I have the pleasantries out of way, allow me to take this opportunity to address the topic I know you all really want to know more about: the existence of aliens. A few days ago, Jill and I went up on the roof of the White House and popped a bag of magic mushrooms and after 8 hours up there I can definitely tell you that aliens do in fact exist.”

Without the absurdity at the end there would have been no indication that the video was a deep fake. It was truly realistic and convincing and the implications of what could be possible were bone chilling. Imagine the panic that would be created for a moment if someone created a video of the President telling America that the bombs have been launched and we are now engaged in global thermonuclear war.

It didn’t take long for someone to use this type of technology in an attempt to influence the outcome of an election. In fact, during the New Hampshire Presidential Primary, someone created a deep fake of a Joe Biden robocall that told voters that if they took part in the primary they would not be allowed to vote in November.

A few weeks ago, we spoke with State Rep. Todd Jones about a bill he and State Rep Brad Thomas have been working on to make sure people do not use generative AI to commit fraud on Georgia voters. The bill had come under attack from the Georgia Freedom Caucus, which only has two members these days. Mallory Staples, the non-elected Director of the Georgia Freedom Caucus, has been very busy falsely telling people that Thomas and Jones’s efforts would imprison people for making memes. The criticisms of the legislation fail to take into consideration the legal definitions in the bill. In fact, Staples vociferous opposition and her stated reasons for her opposition exposed that she lacks a basic level of understanding of how to read and understand legislation. It has been a huge hit to the credibility of the Freedom Caucus network.

Rep. Thomas, having gotten HB 986 out of the House, went to the Senate Judiciary Committee fully armed and it was glorious. My words will not do it justice, so just watch for yourself (Go to 41:45 mark or click the link below to go directly to the key moment):

I am told the video was produced for just a few hundred dollars.

It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to understand the dangers that come with the awesome power of this type of technology.

It is understandable that people who care about the First Amendment would have concerns if they didn’t have an understanding of what the bill did. But for legislators to oppose this on those grounds is dubious at best because a simple reading of the bill proves that Staples’s take that people would be arrested for making a meme could not be further from the truth.

The bill would only impact deep fakes that were created, specifically, by campaign workers close to election day for the purpose of committing fraud and impacting the outcome of an election. The quality of the product must be sufficient to make a reasonable person believe that it is real and something the real person actually did or said. Cat memes wouldn’t qualify.

The First Amendment does not protect fraud. And the legislature has a compelling interest in dealing with this challenge before it becomes a problem. How many times do we hear that our legislators are being too reactive and not proactive? In HB 986 Reps Thomas and Jones have shown a rare trait amongst our lawmakers; the ability to see problems on the horizon and the foresight to attempt to deal with them today.

It is unfortunate that there are those out there like Representative Charlice Byrd and Senator Colton Moore, the only remaining members of the nearly defunct Georgia Freedom Caucus, are using this moment to mislead people on what this bill does. They may as well just go ahead and shut down now because Brad Thomas took ownership of their building yesterday. And he should raise the rent.

3 Replies to “Brad Thomas Takes Ownership of Georgia Freedom Caucus”

  1. Very happy to read that the Georgia Freedom Caucus is getting new leadership as it seems to have turned into a Division Caucus…. From votes against the PAQC bill (SB 92 update with SB 332), to votes against the Resolution that would simple name a building in honor of the longest serving speaker of the House to now the lobbying and voting against perhaps the most obviously needed bill, SB 986. Did they not see the endless fake pictures of Trump supposedly being forcefully arrested and videos of massive celebration in a bar when they showed his mugshot? I have faith it will pass tomorrow!

    1. Sorry if it was understood that Rep Thomas had taken over the Freedom Caucus. The word “own” here is used in its slang meaning, A quick search on Google for the slang meaning of, “own” shows us:

      In slang, “own” can mean to totally defeat, embarrass, or ridicule someone. For example, “you’ve been owned” means you’ve been beaten, humiliated, or thoroughly defeated.

      1. Maybe it would have been clearer to use “pwn’d?” My experience through retail and customer service jobs has been that people don’t read, even if they’re trying to.

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