Fulton County commissioners discussed Wednesday whether to extend a contract to the controversial Happy Faces staffing firm, but the discussion irked Commissioner Marvin Arrington Jr. to such an extent he erupted in a fit of anger.
And the longer Arrington spoke the louder and the more antagonized he got — especially when he talked about former President Donald Trump.
Commissioners later voted four to three to continue the contract with the company, said to have links to Democrat Stacey Abrams. This despite several people turning out to protest. To express their displeasure, audience members held up signs and buttons with a crossed-out smiley face.
And Arrington noticed.
“I just wonder where were all of these people in 2016 when Richard Barron and Happy Faces were used for the election of Donald Trump? It seems that the outcome is the reason these people were here,” Arrington said as audience members booed.
“They don’t like the outcome. Richard Barron and Happy Faces were in place when Donald Trump was elected. So now you want to replace them. I make a motion that we rescind the 2016 presidential election of Donald Trump because of Happy Faces and Richard Barron. I walked out in protest of the big lie. I do not believe in the big lie and I will not support it in any way. I’m not going to give it any oxygen.”
Barron was the county’s registration and elections director. He resigned late last year following scathing criticisms over how he handled the 2020 elections.
Immediately following Arrington’s blowup, Commission Chair Robb Pitts demanded order and decorum and threatened to clear the chamber.
But Fulton County resident Bridget Thorne, who said she was in the audience, on the front row, said Arrington wasn’t the one asked to exhibit better behavior.
“My immediate thought was kind of a shock. Most of us were talking about trying to get community workers involved in the election system. That was an emphasis for us to hire and have all of those people there that we were willing to work. We wanted to have our elections instead of having a temp agency. How he [Arrington] could turn it, that we are promoting a big lie, there was no fraud? It was just amazing to me,” Thorne told The Georgia Star News.
“Everybody in the audience was disagreeing. Then that made him [Arrington] go on and on and on. Then Rob Pitts reprimanded the audience when it was his [Arrington’s] outburst that created the disturbance.”
Arrington did not return requests for comment Thursday. According to Arrington’s profile on the county’s website, he represents District Five, which includes East Atlanta, East Point, South Fulton, and small parts of Union City and College Park.
– – –
Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star and The Georgia Star News. Follow Chris on Facebook, Twitter, Parler, and GETTR. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Marvin Arrington Jr.” by Fulton County. Background Photo “Fulton County Commissioners Meeting” by Fulton Government Television.