'Not going to take it down': 30A property owner hangs 'Trump Won' banner on home despite fines

Jim Thompson
Northwest Florida Daily News

SEAGROVE BEACH — If it costs Marvin Peavy $50 a day to continue tweaking the people he calls "Seaside liberals" and "the 1% leftists," with the massive "Trump Won" banner hanging from his part-time Seagrove Beach home along Walton County Road 30A ... well then, that's just what he's prepared to do.

Fifty dollars is the fine that Peavy will be assessed by Walton County if the banner, found earlier this week to be in violation of signage regulations for the specially designated 30A scenic corridor, isn't removed by Monday.

"Fifty dollars a day ain't a damn thing to me. ... I'm not going to take it down," said Peavy, a Georgia real estate and property management businessman who lives four days of each week in the multiple-story, 6,770-square-foot home just east of Seaside.

And besides, Peavy claimed, "I've already had people call me and tell me they'd pay the $50 fines."

The owner of this Seagrove Beach House, conservative Georgia businessman Marvin Peavy, has been given until Monday to take a "Trump Won" banner off the side of the structure on Walton County Road 30A, or face a fine of $50 per day. Peavy's banner was found in violation of signage regulations for the road during a code enforcement hearing on Wednesday.

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Peavy's sign has attracted some significant attention, and he said Friday that he'd been contacted by a local Republican who wants to bring a group of people to join him at his house Sunday afternoon to show support for his stance on the sign.

Federal Election Commission records from the 2020 campaign season show that Peavy donated more than $9,000 to various Trump-related and Republican-related organizations, and he said Friday that he is currently helping former University of Georgia football star Herschel Walker in Walker's bid for a Georgia U.S. Senate seat.   

An unabashed believer in the discredited proposition that Republican Donald Trump won a 2020 election that was rigged against him — "Our elections have been rigged for at least 20 years. That's proven facts," he asserted — Peavy initially attracted the attention of county code enforcement officials some months ago with a "Trump 2020" sign at his house.

According to Peavy, code officials began contacting him early in January — two months after the November election — about the sign.

"I said, 'The election is not over,' " Peavy recounted, referencing the numerous and ultimately unsuccessful legal challenges to Democrat Joe Biden's victory and the ultimately unfounded hope that Congress would reject the election results.

Peavy did, though, take the sign down Jan. 21, the day after Biden was inaugurated president.

Two months later, however, he unfurled the "Trump Won" banner, and claims to have gotten a call from a code enforcement officer on Father's Day, June 20, asking him to take it down.

According to testimony from Wednesday's five-minute code enforcement hearing, Peavy's property was initially inspected by code officials on July 21, and a notice of violation regarding the banner was sent to him via certified mail on that same day. The letter was reported as delivered on July 29, but the county never received any acknowledgement from Peavy that he had gotten the letter, Code Enforcement Officer Charles Cronin told Special Magistrate Hayward Dykes Jr.

Conservative Georgia businessman Marvin Peavy, who owns this house in Seagrove Beach, has been given until Monday to remove a "Trump Won" banner from the home or face a fine of $50 per day. Peavy, who was found Wednesday to be in violation of a Walton County code requirement for signage along the County Road 30A Scenic Corridor, says he's not taking down the banner.

On Sept. 13, a hearing notice was sent to Peavy by certified mail, and was reported as not having been delivered. As a follow-up on Sept. 28, the county posted Peavy's house with a notice of violation, but Peavy contends the notice was taped to the back of a temporary sign, advertising a pressure-washing business to which he has no connection, at the rear of his property, and his wife just happened to notice it.

"That's how I was served for their meeting on Wednesday ...," Peavy said.

Neither Peavy nor anyone representing him was at Wednesday's code enforcement hearing — although Cronin said that Peavy's local attorney had called him and told him that Peavy realized there was a violation and that the banner would be coming down.

Peavy, though, doubled down in a Friday interview, saying that he's making plans to hang another banner from the house reading "Let's go, Brandon!"

The slogan is a circuitous reference disparaging President Joe Biden that had its origins at a recent NASCAR stock car race. The race was won by driver Brandon Brown, and in a post-race interview, race fans were heard apparently chanting "F*** Joe Biden," as Brown's interviewer gamely suggested they were chanting, "Let's go, Brandon!"  

Walton County Road 30A runs along the Gulf of Mexico though towns like Seaside and Seagrove Beach, where a homeowner says he refuses to take down a "Trump Won" banner from his house after it was found to be in violation of signage regulations along CR 30A.

Peavy, who said he gets mail at numerous mailboxes in the areas of Georgia where he does business, was critical Friday of the county's unsuccessful efforts to get in touch with him. He contends he was always just a phone call away.

"They know my phone number. They know me," he said.

Peavy went on to cheekily suggest that his "Trump Won" banner is not political, and is merely a reference to the former president winning golf championships at his numerous golf courses.

"He had won several golf tournaments," Peavy said.

Trump has claimed as many as 20 club championship wins, but those claims have been widely debunked.

Peavy offered up another argument Friday, contending that the banner "doesn't say Donald Trump, it just says Trump. How many Trumps do you know?"

"It's just a statement. It's not political," he added.

"I'm going to sue the county because they're stepping into my First Amendment rights," Peavy said.

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Political signs are covered in a section of the county code dealing with temporary signs, which requires that "such signs are removed within 15 days following the campaign ... ." However, Peavy was not cited for the political nature of his signs.

Instead, Peavy was cited under a section of the code dealing specifically with the 30A corridor, defined in part as "(a)ll properties that are located contiguous to County Road 30A," which is where a county property tax map shows Peavy's property is located.

More specifically, as Cronin noted for Dykes at Wednesday's hearing, Peavy was cited for violating a code section prohibiting "(s)treamers, feather flags, pennants, ribbons, spinners and other similar devices" along 30A.

Outside of county code officials, the "Trump Won" banner attracted the attention of at least one person with connections to the 30A corridor.

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Dave Rauschkolb, a local restaurateur who operates three restaurants at Seaside, said he mentioned the sign to Commissioner William "Boots" McCormick in May, but never got a response back from him, possibly due to some personal issues with which the commissioner was dealing at the time. McCormick was not immediately available Friday for comment.

In comments to the Daily News on the banner, Rauschkolb said, "Political signs, banners, information of any kind has no place outside of the election season anywhere. It's my opinion, regardless of political affiliation, it's visual pollution during the political season and it certainly is after the political season. 30A is a scenic corridor, and there's nothing scenic about that."