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GOP strips voter data access from combat vet congressional candidate Danny Merritt

Danny Merritt during a deployment. (Courtesy of Danny Merritt)
April 24, 2020

U.S. Army officer, combat veteran and Bronze Star recipient Danny Merritt is running for Congress and according to documents shown to American Military News, the Republican National Committee and Georgia Republican Party are holding him back by prohibiting his access to key voter data.

Merritt’s campaign manager, Jeanne Seaver, says she has never seen data revoked from a candidate throughout her 20-plus year political career.

The Merritt campaign says that the Republican National Committee (RNC) and the Georgia Republican Party have terminated the campaign’s access to voter data that is typically afforded to all congressional campaigns, and refuses to reinstate that access.

“Not providing the data has been one of many things we’ve had to deal with in the campaign,” Merritt told American Military News.

“Running a grassroots campaign is hard enough as it is, especially against an incumbent,” Merrit said. “To have the basic tools that we would need in order to fight a fair fight denied to us just shows a lot about the establishment and the way the RNC treats candidates.”

The action has never happened before, Georgia GOP Chairman David Shafer said in text messages to the Merritt campaign seen by American Military News.

Shafer didn’t reply to multiple email, phone and text requests for comment.

Political Director of the Georgia GOP, Joe Proenza, told Merritt campaign manager Jeanne Seaver on a phone call that the data was being withheld to protect the incumbent candidate, Buddy Carter.

Proenza didn’t reply to multiple email, phone and text requests for comment.

Longtime politician and fellow Republican Rep. Buddy Carter has been in Congress since 2015 representing Georgia’s 1st congressional district. Carter had previously served as a representative in the Georgia House from 2004 to 2009 before then being elected as a state senator from 2009 to 2014.

Mike Doehring, the RNC Data Director for GA, also told the Merritt campaign via email their data access was revoked due to President Donald Trump’s endorsement of Carter.

“@Buddy_Carter is a BUSINESSMAN first. He takes care of our Vets and Troops and is leading the fight to SLASH drug prices! Buddy’s 100% pro-Wall & 100% pro-jobs. He will KEEP AMERICA GREAT and has my total, Strong Endorsement!” Trump had tweeted on Dec. 17.

The endorsement came despite Carter voting against Trump’s border wall funding efforts, and against Trump’s move to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.

Doehring and Stewart Bragg, Georgia GOP Executive Director, both refused comment for this story.

Dan Coats, State Director of Georgia for Trump Victory — the joint entity between Trump’s reelection campaign and the RNC — did not respond to requests for comment. Trump Victory’s Press Secretary of Georgia, Savannah Viars, also did not respond to requests for comment.

Merritt, a co-founder of the national apparel company, Nine Line Apparel, and owner of Georgia Land & Cattle, says he’s running a “true grassroots campaign” — one that relies on networking with voters through social media, phone calls, and knocking on doors. He doesn’t have the backing and funds of big companies and leverages exposure through social media.

Merritt was previously banned by Twitter shortly after he began his campaign last year, but after an uproar, his account was reinstated with no explanation.

“We’re running a great race on a shoestring,” Merrit said. “The most important thing is — when we do win — is to show other people than you can get outspent 20-1 and still win a campaign. Everyone should be challenging an incumbent every single year.”

The Merritt campaign admits they were forced to change strategy due to losing access to voter data, but says they are still pushing ahead and optimistic for a win. Merritt has the support of his local community, as more than 400 volunteers have joined his campaign efforts. He was also endorsed by the national Vets for Trump organization.

Merritt and Carter will go head to head in a primary vote on June 9.

Merritt joined the Army when he was 18 years old, and has served for the past 18 years. A few years into his service, he commissioned as an officer in 2005 and was assigned to the 10th Mountain Division. He served as a Platoon Leader in 2008 during a deployment to Iraq for which he was awarded a Bronze Star. Merritt was later assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division out of Fort Hood, Texas, and deployed to Afghanistan in 2011. He left active duty eight years ago and is currently a Major in the U.S. Army Reserves.

He and his wife, Sarah, have four children.