Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023–12:08 p.m.
-John Bailey, Rome News-Tribune
A former local bank president was arrested and charged with preventing or disrupting a lawful meeting or gathering when he refused to leave the podium after his time expired at a Floyd County Commission meeting.
Mark Kenneth Swanson, 56, of Rome requested additional time to speak to the County Commissioners regarding issues he felt occurred in the recent elections. His request was denied.
County commissioners informed Swanson that public participation is limited to three minutes several times. Swanson continually informed the room that he needed more time to speak and was allowed to stay at the podium for several minutes over the three minutes allotted before his arrest.
“Please take a seat. Mr. Swanson your time is up,” County Commission Chair Allison Watters said.
“My time is not up,” Swanson replied.
Swanson spent his entire three-minute slot arguing that he needed more time, saying “there was nothing in the Georgia constitution that restricts my ability to speak for more than three minutes.”
Floyd County Police Department officers approached Swanson asking him to leave and he continued speaking. They again insisted that he leave and he refused telling police “don’t touch me” even after a county employee had removed the microphone.
As police physically escorted Swanson from the room, he called on associates in attendance to video the incident.
Below you can see a video of the incident from Adam Bailey with the Rome News-Tribune
Swanson was the bank president of Northside Bank for several years as well as working with an insurance company. According to his LinkedIn profile he is currently employed as a sales executive and performance banking coach at Deluxe Corporation, a financial company that touts 4 million small business customers and 4,000 financial institution clients.
After the 2020 election, Swanson and a small group of Northwest Georgians have pushed election fraud conspiracies regarding the 2020 election and 2021 runoff in Floyd County. As part of that push, Swanson has filed a significant number of letters and requests under the Open Records Act, which he is lawfully allowed to do.
Swanson has listed what he has termed violations committed by the Floyd County Board of Elections as well as Rome City Commissioners and Floyd County Commissioners.
After a request from Swanson, the Rome News-Tribune independently filed Open Records Act requests with Floyd County, but found no evidence to back up his claims. Other requests filed by Swanson to other state agencies have not resulted in any official action.
At one point, someone associated with the group entered a dumpster to pull shredded documents, claiming that the elections office was shredding documents and they were determined to put them back together to uncover wrongdoing, according to a story published in the Washington Post.
The same story outlined accusations that the group was harassing elections workers as well as city and county employees online and in person. At one point in November 2021, Swanson requested an injunction to stop a Rome municipal election. That request was dismissed after a judge granted Swanson permission to view voting machine testing logs.
This is the first time a person has been removed and arrested at a Floyd County Commission meeting since 1995. In that case, Serpentfoot — her legal name — was arrested after disrobing during a County Commission meeting in protest.
This story is available through a news partnership with the Rome News-Tribune. More coverage can be found at northwestgeorgianews.com.