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Ethics hearing set for Fulton Commissioner Lynne Riley
By MAGGIE LEE
After getting the silent treatment for nearly a year, the Fulton County Ethics Board wants Commissioner Lynne Riley to answer charges that she’s not acting in the best interest of county citizens.
The board today called for an evidentiary hearing at which Riley and the six state legislators who lodged the complaint could present arguments and evidence. No date was set.
The issue is Riley’s allegiance to the creation of Milton County, the would-be 160th Georgia county, comprising the north Fulton cities of Milton, Johns Creek, Roswell, Alpharetta and perhaps Sandy Springs.
“While we fully support her right to advocate for the creation of Milton County we do not believe she can do so and remain in her current position,” reads the original complaint from state Reps. Tyrone Brooks, Roger Bruce, Virgil Fludd, Joe Heckstall, Ralph Long and Rashad Taylor, filed last July.
“To do so appears to violate her oath of office and other professional decorum,” continues the letter. The representatives, all Democrats from central and south Fulton, believe that Northside secession would be bad for the county overall, especially in the pocketbook.
Riley finally appeared before the board today after nearly a year of delays. But her attorney, Rep. Wendall Willard (R-Sandy Springs), directed her not to speak under oath, insisting that she was not required to do so in this early pre-evidentiary stage.
The board’s chairman and lawyer disagreed with Willard’s reading of the rules.
Since the board had no substantive statement from Willard or Riley, it decided to take the representatives’ complaint at face value and call the hearing.
“That’s a violation of due process,” Willard concluded.
If found guilty of violating Fulton’s ethics code, Riley could face a maximum $1,000 fine or a public reprimand.
Riley missed a chance to testify in August, when several of the legislators gave their statements. Another chance passed in April when Willard, tied up in the last days of the legislative session, begged off.
Riley makes no secret of her support for Milton. She chaired the Milton County Legislators Advisory Committee, a study group that published a March report under House of Representatives stationery.
She may actually be seated in the state House before the county’s ethics wheels can turn. Riley is running unopposed for the Johns Creek seat coming vacant. She’ll join a Fulton county delegation cleanly split by I-285 and the Milton question. Riley briefly had a dark horse competitor who withdrew a few days after qualifying for the race.
Riley’s commission seat will be filled by Johns Creek Councilwoman Liz Hausmann. She’s also unopposed … and a Milton partisan.