Protest planned over Valdosta billboard battle

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VALDOSTA — A group that had sued a Lowndes County firm in 2018 over the sudden removal of an anti-Donald Trump billboard plans to protest Tuesday in front of the business’ office, claiming the same firm is violating a court order by refusing to host a billboard opposed to Gov. Brian Kemp.

Tom Hochschild, of the group Georgians for the Impeachment of Brian Kemp, said members of the group will protest at 10 a.m. in front of the Roger Budd Company at 2907 N. Patterson St.

In 2018, the group — then known as Georgians for the Removal of Donald Trump — paid for a billboard reading "Impeach" with a picture of President Donald Trump but the sign lasted only a single day. The Roger Budd Company removed the billboard and was promptly sued by the organization.

On July 2, 2020, a Georgia Superior Court ruling resolved the lawsuit, requiring the Roger Budd Company to honor the year-long contract with the group and allow them to put up a billboard at a monthly rate of $430 for 12 months.

In response to losing the lawsuit, Roger Budd, owner of the Roger Budd Company, wanted to show his support for the then-president and put an opposing message on the opposite side of the anti-Trump billboard.

Now, the renamed Georgians for the Impeachment of Brian Kemp wants to run a billboard that says “Stop Voter Suppression – Impeach Kemp” and has a drawing of a large boot emblazoned with a Republican elephant stepping on a multitude of hands of various races.

The problem, according to Hoschschild, is that the Budd Company rejected the sign, saying they now had a policy forbidding all “negative” advertising.

The group’s 12-month contract ends in July, he said.

“We think they are trying to stall through the end of the contract, which they said they won’t renew,” Hochschild said. “It was our understanding (from the court order) that we could use any billboard we wanted.”

The group is filing a contempt action with the court but Hochschild said he is worried it will take time.

“We are trying to bring pressure on Roger Budd to do the right thing and put our billboard up for the final month,” he said.

Multiple attempts by The Times to reach Roger Budd Monday were unsuccessful.

Terry Richards is senior reporter at The Valdosta Daily Times.

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