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Attorney for pair accused of campaign scheme question validity of case

LAWRENCEVILLE - An attorney for a political operative accused of an anonymous smear campaign have appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court.

The application for interlocutory appeal was filed late Thursday, said J. Tom Morgan, an attorney for Nancy Walter, who, along with Bill McKinney, faces 29 misdemeanor counts of violating election laws.

McKinney also faces a felony count of influencing a witness in the case, which stems from anonymous mailers and DVDs sent to voters this summer encouraging them to vote against District 4 Commissioner Kevin Kenerly. Kenerly won the primary runoff days after the indictment was unsealed and is challenged by Democrat John Kenney in Tuesday's election.

The appeal document includes the same arguments that defense attorneys posed to Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Melodie Snell Conner two weeks ago.

"This is a very interesting case because it's a case of first impression," Morgan said, meaning the Supreme Court has never ruled on many of the questions.

Issues include:

•whether or not Gwinnett County is the appropriate venue for the case, since campaign documents are filed with the State Ethics Commission in Fulton County.

•the validity of the indictment, since it does not list McKinney or Water as the chairperson or treasurer of an independent committee.

•the constitutionality of the Georgia election law.

Conner ruled in favor of District Attorney Danny Porter.

"We are certain Mr. Porter didn't have any jurisdiction to bring this case in Gwinnett County, not to mention our clients are innocent," Morgan said. "These issues that have never been decided before need to be decided now."

A message left at the district attorney's office was not returned Friday.

The Supreme Court can decide whether or not to consider the appeal.