Embittered progressive Natalyn Archibong tried to smack down her two gay opponents in court in the closing days of her Atlanta City Council campaign. She failed. The court of public opinion smacked them down, too. It won.
It's been a wild ride to Tuesday's finish line in the District 5 race, a diverse area that includes gay popular East Atlanta, which is home to My Sister's Room and Mary's. Archibong (photo center), a three-term incumbent, sued LGBT candidates Matt Rinker (photo left) and Christian Enterkin (photo right) for libel and slander on Friday and asked a judge to issue a restraining order. The judge refused. Meanwhile, two gay political groups are standing on the sidelines, refusing to take sides and endorse a candidate.
Archibong was upset that both candidates criticized Archibong's attendance at City Council meetings, including campaign mailers and statements that she "skipped City Council meetings or was late 90% of the time." Enterkin and Rinker have also criticized Archibong for her sloppy ethics problems.
After the lawsuit flap, both LGBT candidates fired back.
UPDATE 4:18 p.m. from Matt Rinker on the lawsuit: "I stand by our claim that Natalyn Archibong has the worst attendance record on the Atlanta City Council, as supported by the City Council's own meeting minutes. The lawsuit is a desperate move by a desperate politician and her attorney’s to hide the truth about her record from voters.
"As someone who is asking voters to give her a $60,000 a year salary, and who has been in public office since 2001 - she should know that actually showing up to city council meetings and committee meetings is step one in fixing the problems in our community. She has largely failed to do that. Our families and our businesses deserve better than part-time representation by someone who doesn't care enough to show up."
UPDATE 4:56 p.m. from Christian Enterkin on the lawsuit: "It is appalling that Natalyn Archibong would attempt to block my rights to campaign just days before the election. Instead of defending her public record, she has decided to waste MORE taxpayer dollars, and occupy the precious time of a Superior Court Judge. If Ms. Archibong was fighting as hard for District 5 as she is to maintain her seat, we would not be here today.
While a judge refused to step into the race, the AJC's PolitiFact did. A few days before Archibong slapped her opponents with a lawsuit, the paper determined that Rinker's claims about Archibong's attendance were "mostly false."
As for her attendance record, Rinker’s number comes close to our count concerning how often Archibong is either absent or was not present when the council convened. Council records show Archibong is usually present when the council makes its first vote of the day.
Rinker’s claim contains some elements of truth, but there is a lot of context that needs to be considered before fully understanding what he put in the flier. On our rating scale, this one gets a Mostly False.
All of this followed a gay bitch slap fest between Enterkin and Matthew Cardinale, the gay editor of Atlanta Progressive News, which backs Archibong. The two swapped some nasty back-and-forth over Enterkin's employment and the media outlet's backing of Archibong.
And as voters head to the polls on Tuesday, they received no guidance on the District 5 race from two gay political groups. Georgia Equality and Georgia Stonewall Democrats issued endorsements in several city races, but both skipped weighing in on the increasingly bitter Archibong-Rinker-Enterkin threeway.
Archibong has picked up the backing of state Rep. Keisha Waites, one of three openly gay members of the Georgia General Assembly. And gay popular Joe's on Juniper scrapped together a few bucks for Enterkin.