DA candidate turns himself in to Columbus police; faces charges related to campaign music video

Updated: May. 27, 2020 at 7:25 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Georgia’s primary elections are two weeks away and a candidate for local district attorney is headed to jail.

Just over one week ago, attorney Mark Jones released a music campaign video urging people to get out and vote for him to be the next Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit District Attorney. Now, he’s facing charges because of it.

The two men arrested this weekend have bonded out already. Police said Jones is facing multiple charges in relation to a campaign music video published on social media.

“These charges are frivolous," Jones said while walking to the Public Safety Center Wednesday. “These charges are baseless, and all involved need to dismiss it. No bill equipped, whatever we need to do to make that happen.”

During the video, you can see a car cutting donuts in the Columbus Civic Center parking lot. Columbus Mayor Skip Henderson said Jones, nor anyone else, had permission to do that.

“All I can tell you, because I called the police chief, is that there was never a permit for anybody to be down there and apparently, there was some destruction of property," Henderson said. "And anybody, doesn’t matter who they are, if they destroy taxpayer owned property, they need to be held accountable.”

“There was no intentional damage, there was no defacement of property,” Jones said.

The first to be arrested in this controversy were two men, Erik Whittington and Chris Black. Defense Attorney Stacey Jackson said the two young men asked in advance about the legality of performing donuts with vehicles.

“From my understanding, they had been given the impression that they had permission, that all individuals in the video had permission to be there, all legal matters had been cleared to shoot the video. But that turned out not to be the case,” Jackson said.

Jones’ opponent and current district attorney, Julia Slater, said she was surprised by the video.

“I’m shocked that someone who is running for district attorney would ask their supporters to do anything that might have them arrested,” Slater said.

Jones said this is part of a political move by Slater to keep him from winning the June 9 primary.

“Politically, this would not necessarily be the move I would make," Slater said. "This is something the police department did without consulting me, which they shouldn’t have. They should not have consulted me.”

Jones said he is still able to run for district attorney with these charges pending. His Recorder’s Court hearing is scheduled for Friday at 9 a.m.

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