The recently appointed District 2 member of the Clarke County Board of Education has yet to make a public appearance in his new role amid investigations into his political past.
Antwon Stephens, 23, was appointed to the position at the Jan. 16 board meeting and released a statement Feb. 7 addressing controversial fundraising practices in previous political campaigns.
“I take full responsibility and apologize to my community for my many mistakes made as a young person that entered politics without mentors,” Stephens wrote in the statement on Facebook.
A few hours after the first statement, Stephens said he was “committing” himself to mental health help. He has not announced his future plans for the board of education.
In the statement, he explained that he falsified the more than $100,000 of campaign contributions he disclosed for his run for Athens-Clarke County mayor in 2018.
Stephens dropped out of the race before the March 2018 qualification deadline. He said in the statement he made up the contributions as “a publicity stunt” to raise awareness to community issues and election fairness in the race. Stephens did not raise any money and covered all expenditures himself, according to the statement.
“I said then and I say now that it was wrong and accept the fines that come along with that,” the statement reads.
Violations to the Georgia Campaign Finance Act may result in monetary fines or criminal charges, said David Emadi, executive director of the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, in an email.
In the email, Emadi said the commission “has been aware of potential issues surrounding his campaign for some time,” and his case is under investigation, so Emadi could not comment further on the allegations.
This past year, Stephens also ran for Georgia’s 9th Congressional District, despite not meeting the constitutional age requirement to hold the seat. He said the campaign aimed to increase competitiveness for Democrats in the red district and was prepared to legally challenge the age requirement if he was the only Democrat up for the seat.
On Twitter, Stephens said he raised just under $20,000 in the campaign. In the Feb. 7 statement, he said he plans to donate these contributions to Georgia’s 9th Congressional District Democratic candidate Devin Pandy and other political organizations.
He said he would disclose his campaign contributions “above and beyond” Federal Elections Commission reporting requirements. As of press time, he has not released any documentation about these contributions or expenditures. The FEC previously sent Stephens a violation warning because he did not register his campaign committee within the required timeline.
Stephens’ statement did not address questions regarding his high school graduation. Cedar BluePrints journalists discovered he did not graduate from Cedar Shoals High School in 2014 like he implied in his board of education candidacy speech.