When voters head to the polls for the May 22 election, they’ll see two familiar names running for Richmond County’s state court judge: local attorneys Robert “Bo” Hunter III and Monique Walker.
Just two years ago, Hunter and Walker faced one another in a three-person race for the State Court seat that was vacated by Judge John Flythe.
During that race, both Hunter and Walker ended up losing to Kellie Kenner McIntyre, who was then the Richmond County State Court solicitor general.
It was a gut-wrenching defeat for Hunter who faced McIntyre in a runoff.
Despite Hunter’s best efforts to get the word out about his more than 30 years of service to the local legal community, McIntyre ended up receiving 56.7 percent of the votes cast compared to Hunter’s 43 percent.
But Hunter, who served as the former solicitor general of Richmond County State Court for about eight years starting back in 1988, soon became a state court judge anyway.
Just last year, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal announced that he had selected Hunter to be Richmond County’s newest state court judge to fill the seat of retiring Richmond County State Court Chief Judge Richard Slaby.
It was a surprise to some people in the legal community who thought local attorney Freddie Sanders would be a shoo-in because of his long career with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.
But Hunter was chosen by the governor, not only over just Sanders, but he was also selected over a dozen other lawyers vying for the seat including attorneys Brandon Dial, Ben Allen, Monique Walker and Michael Arrington.
But this time around, Walker is back to challenge Hunter for the seat and she’s once again getting support from another former Georgia governor: Roy Barnes.
Augustans will be watching closely to see the results in this race.
Walker, who is the current chief operating officer and general counsel for Global Personnel Solutions and also happens to be the daughter of former state Sen. Charles Walker, struggled during the 2016 election and came in dead last.
During that campaign, Walker had a hard time avoiding questions about her past troubles involving her father’s political career and her lack of experience in the courtroom.
While Walker graduated from the University of Georgia in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and she received her law degree from the University of Georgia School of Law in 1996, her campaign website states that she has been engaged in the practice of law, handling both criminal and civil matters, for nearly two decades.
“Monique has vast experience in the practice of law and the management of people, processes and litigation, as well as a meaningful and relevant history of leadership and service to the community,” her website states.
Well, the truth is, Walker hasn’t spent a great deal of time in the courtroom.
Instead, she has been focused on running her father’s business, Global Personnel Solutions, for more than a decade.
And most know the reason why she took over leadership in the company.
Back in 2005, state Sen. Charles Walker was found guilty of 127 felony counts of conspiracy, mail fraud and filing false tax returns. Walker was eventually sentenced to a decade in federal prison and ordered to pay a $150,000 fine and $698,000 in restitution.
And when the federal government went after the former Sen. Walker, it didn’t spare his daughter.
Initially, Monique Walker also was indicted with him on several criminal counts in 2005.
Fortunately for Monique Walker, all of the charges against her were dismissed after she pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor count of filing a false tax return and was forced to serve probation.
But Monique Walker was still disciplined by the State Bar of Georgia in 2007 because of the fact that she pleaded guilty in court to the misdemeanor charge.
When she pleaded guilty, Monique Walker told the court that she accepted a check which bore the notation “consulting fees” for $700 from her father’s company and did not report the money as income.
She contended that she believed the money was a gift and was “remorseful” for her negligence in not reporting the check as income.
Monique Walker insisted that she did not intend to deceive the IRS and she paid the taxes owed and the penalties stemming from her actions.
But in 2007, the State Bar of Georgia ruled that Walker be given a 120-day suspension and a public reprimand.
So her law license was suspended for 120 days in 2007, all over $700.
Some say it was totally fair, others say it wasn’t, but either way, that’s still on her record.
But, ironically, Monique Walker isn’t hiding from her past.
A reception honoring Monique Walker will be held on Thursday, April 19, at The Richmond on Greene to support her campaign. Tickets cost $100 each for individuals and $150 for couples.
And guess who is hosting this reception?
Once again, former Gov. Roy Barnes has stepped up to the plate and agreed to support the Walkers.
Let’s just say, Barnes owes Charles Walker for taking a lot of heat for him over the years.
After all, when Democrats reigned in Atlanta’s Gold Dome more than a decade ago, Walker was the party’s prince, considered to be Barnes’ right-hand man.
As the state’s first African-American majority leader, Charles Walker was known as a powerhouse in the Georgia Legislature.
In fact, Charles Walker even wrote about his relationship with Barnes in his autobiography, called “From Peanuts to Power: The Road to Wealth, Success and Happiness.”
“The governor called me the Hammer,” Walker wrote. “I took care of the tough stuff. When the hard decisions had to be made, it was always let Senator Walker handle it. Let the leader handle it. Give the job to Charles.”
Well, Charles Walker is once again calling in favors to try and get his daughter elected to the state court judge’s seat.
But some voters believe that well has long run dry.