A win-lose situation

Several months ago, I solicited the advice and counsel of some of the smartest bloggers in Georgia when I asked Should I file an ethics complaint against my county commissioner so that answers can be provided to my questions regarding the apparent use of public funds to influence the outcome of a pending referendum?. Today, the State Ethics Commission held a preliminary hearing on the complaint that I filed against Fulton County Commission Vice-Chair William “Bill” Edwards, and while the Commission dismissed the complaint, it was not due to base-less allegations.

In fact, two members of the State Ethics Commission stated that they believed a violation did indeed occur, but they weren’t sure who the violator was – Commissioner Edwards or Fulton County as a whole. To sum up today’s proceedings, it was revealed that at the direction of Edwards, the County Manager, Tax Commissioner, and Finance Director collaborated on producing the actual content of the “You Have Three Options” flyer; and also, it was revealed that the flyer was printed in-house by the Fulton County print shop. Once again, it was agreed that the flyer crossed that line into “advocacy” (which violates the Ethics in Government Act) but the question was on who was in violation; Commissioner Edwards, who ordered the county to make the flyers; or the County itself, who actually expended public funds towards the production of the flyers.

That’s where we are, and I’m not entirely sure what to do next. One option is to file a complaint against the Fulton County Manager, Finance Director, Tax Commissioner, and the County Commission as a whole. Another option is to ask the Ethics Commission Executive Secretary to look into whether the Commission can, on its own authority, find probable cause that a violation occurred and was committed by Fulton County. And the third option is just to leave it alone.

I’m probably going to spend the next few days thinking this over, and since I respect the opinion of everyone here, I’d love to hear (or read in this case) your thoughts on the matter. In the end, it is now on the record that Fulton County, under the direction of Commissioner William “Bill” Edwards (don’t think I’m going to let him off the hook), used the tax dollars of every single Fulton County taxpayer to engage in issue advocacy; and that was, and still is, wrong.

34 comments

  1. GOPeach says:

    Andre-

    Listen –

    Even if you are right about an issue… I would not file an ethics complaint….

    Bloggers have a reputation down at the SEC of being “want to be candidates”. I suggest next time you recruit someone else to do the filing so it will not appear that you want to become some hot dog whistle blower.

    I am aware of such a situation right now that is being used to cause a lot of division in the local party where I live….. It’s a good way to make a lot of enemies…. even if you are right…. it’s just not cool.

  2. Rpolitic says:

    Andre,
    I had a case after yours and I think there is something very interesting with the ruling. If I am right then what they did by dismissing your case, mine and even the others is to suggest that elected officials can use their respective offices to advocate or advance an issue or election. I will say that at least you had a full hearing mine seemed preordained and the defense didn’t even have to finish.

    As a Republican who has never appeared on either side of the ethics commission before it was pretty embarrassing to see how they behaved.

  3. Bill Simon says:

    Andre,

    Regarding the Edwards thing, the Commission is getting more and more disappointing to me every time it meets it seems.

    Even IF it was the parties within the county who helped Edwards promote this thing, the violation is “failing to report an in-kind contribution” and falls on the committee that Edwards did this favor for.

    But, I grant you, ferreting-out the costs will be a bit of a challenge.

    You could do an Open Records Request to examine all of Edwards’ e-mails regarding the activity.

    Also, include the Fulton County “print shop’s” e-mails as well to see how far their discussions have gone.

    If the County’s public information officer gives you some sort of “well, gee, that’s going to cost $10,000 to retrieve” bullsh*t, then you’ll know you’ve hit the right department to file an ethics complaint against.

  4. Rpolitic says:

    Bill I should send you the pictures you would be amazed. But since he stopped the attorney for the defense and allowed no rebuttal I left but my understanding is he voted to dismiss.

    Hey do you know if Gatewood is the one who has the hunting lodge the Gov and his friends use

  5. stephaniemills21 says:

    Oh, and a great way to defray costs if they do give an outrageous cost, is to ask only for the Subject and to/from info from the emails. They can print out this list every easy and can’t then give you the run around on having to redact the info and the time that it takes to do that. Then you can ask for the specific emails that you want.

  6. GOPeach says:

    Andre-

    From the looks at some of the previous posts above- you have been ill advised.

    Bloggers need to stick to blogging and stay clear of giving legal advice!!!!!!

  7. Good try Andre,

    I’m sorry to hear that the Ethics Commissioners disrespected your efforts but that seems to be the norm with them.

    I’d suggest listing all of our Ethic’s Commissioners right here and let the local/state and national press corp help carry the megaton Ethics torch from this point.

    again, i hold your gallant efforts in the highest esteem.

  8. SouthFultonGuy says:

    Perspective is an invaluable ingredient in sorting through what happened today and as Paul Harvey says “here’s the rest of the story”.

    What may not clear to everyone who reads the Peach Pundit is that Andre repeatedly bragged on his own BLOG about going after Bill Edwards with an ethics complaint and he’s criticized Edwards online ever since he reversed his position on creating the City of South Fulton.

    This became “Pitt Bull” personal as he

  9. GOPeach says:

    South Fulton Guy –

    This is ALL SO very typical!!!

    ALL too often… these little bloggers have nothing else better to do than walk around with a blue tooth in their ear text messaging each other … They think they are the flippin CIA !!.

    They sit on their fat flabby tushes filing Ethics Complaints and bahragging all over the internet.
    They wonder why they are loathed by elected officials and candidates.

    What I know is …
    There is a list at the SEC with all the bloggers names on their… When ever a complaint comes
    in from the “Bloggers”… they roll their eye and play along just to appease… then they dismiss the damn thing! A waste of time for all… it also makes a lot of people mad… the walls go up and they are 10 feet thick!!!

    I know that sounds crude… it’s the truth… Clearly it is personal and the SEC knows it

    I say… bloggers… just stick to blogging!!!

  10. SFG, you lost your central theme in a sea of wasted words in defense of bad government but you almost addressed the real issue by saying:

    “I am not saying that Bill is innocent of ethical lapses” -SFG

  11. GOPeach says:

    Hey Billy Bob-

    I have a question for you….

    Since you are so perfect … the flawless citizen … the all knowing… all seeing…. infallible one… who knows every thing t here is to know about every single law, bill, ect……

    When are YOU going to run for public office???

    That’s what I though!!! LOL !!!!

  12. GOPeach says:

    There is NOT ONE SINGLE elected official or candidate who has a filed every single thing to the SEC!!!

    They are always forever changing things and things get overlooked… I know… I used to work for Mack Mattingly and it was impossible to file every single thing all the time just like it is supposed to be filed…

  13. Andre,

    I’ve asked Senator Cecil Staton to get with Senate Ethics Chair Renee Unterman about updating their website.

    1) The last campaign contribution disclosure reports are from June 30, 07.

    and

    2) There are no “Commission Meeting Minutes from Past or Present meetings” that i can see.
    Check under General Information.

    http://lucididiocyblog2.blogspot.com/2007/11/relax-sir-were-just-going-to.html

    The Ethics process is still a deep dark secret in Georgia. I hope Jill Chambers is reading this and can use it to advance the open government agenda.

    thanks

    p.s. GoPeach, you forget, it was yours truly who rushed to your defense when you got banned from Peach Pundit. I won’t make that mistake again.

  14. GOPeach says:

    Andre…

    Please do NOT take what I am saying PERSONALLY….

    To be VERY HONEST with you…
    I am referring to BILLY BOB Simon!!!

    You see… He is the main “BLOGGER” that the SEC “deals” with… he has made it REALLY hard on folks like you.

    I had NO IDEA you actually RAN for OFFICE!!!
    That is AWESOME… I mean it!!

    I really really RESPECT you for that Andre.

    It’s the bloggers who just make trouble for the candidates that are out there trying to make a difference that I oppose.

    Please don’t be mad at me Andre! I REALLY do
    respect you.

  15. GOPeach says:

    Victor..

    I AGREE WITH YOU!!!!!

    Listen…

    I hope Jill Chambers is reading this also!

    You see… when I was working with campaigns…
    I used to file with the Secretary of State… now THAT was a nightmare!

    Just recently…. I learned everyone had to file ate the SEC. Then I learned that the SEC moved this Fall and they are in transition….

    Cathy Cox had a system…. now we have Karen Handel ….. It is VERY confusing…

    I JUST hope that EVERYONE who files an Ethics Complaint weighs out their MOTIVE!

    Ask yourself:

    A. Are you filing because you HATE the person you are complaining about?

    B. Do you have a Vendetta?

    C. Have you called the person to bring to their attention there is a problem BEFORE “Blowing the Whistle”?

    You see….. some things are SIMPLE oversights!
    It appears that well-meaning people just make innocent mistakes and then they get SLAMMED for it.

    The complaints are endless…… and often so petty.

    Let me ask you ALL something…
    Did you go over the speed limit today?
    Did you change lanes without turning on your blinker? Did you travel at least 1 car length behind the person in front of you?

    If we ALL micro-manages our lives according to the letter of the law 24-7… We would be ROBOTS! We do the best we can!

  16. GOPeach says:

    ” Inspector General”?????

    C’mon Billy —

    I thought you were for small government!!!!!
    Now you want the Fed’s to get involved!!! LOL

    It’s flippin 1:11 AM … Lights Out!

  17. ok, ok, ok, almost everyone is rowing in similar non partisan, good government directions.

    let’s all evaluate the state ethics website and offer them constructive criticism, right here. Georgia will be a better state for it.

  18. GOPeach says:

    Look Andre…

    I know you are upset – I feel ya –
    You want to “go after” your opponent-
    The BEST thing you can do is get out in
    the community and LOVE people!

    You will get elected if you do that–
    eventually… It takes time for folks to
    trust you…

  19. jm says:

    Andre:

    Whatever your ultimate motives may be, it is very clear that a crime has been committed. A legal action against the commissioner is in order. People who work for others should not do them political favors with tax payer time/money. The employees at the print shop should not be accountable, because they do the job or lose the job, but their supervisor, if he knew, may be accountable. He’s high up enough to know better.

    Good luck.

  20. Romegaguy says:

    I would like to know more about this “list” kept by the Ethics Commission… HAHAHAHA

    Next thing you know GOPeach will be telling us about Paul Broun getting sworn in. And maybe her brother from Chicago will chime in on Grady

  21. GOPeach says:

    I think I am going to conduct a weekly OPEN RECORDS REQUEST for all those demanding OPEN RECORDS REQUESTS!!! 🙂

    Then I could post a ” Who’s Stalking You” List for all candidates! ! ! 🙂

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