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  • atlanta mainstream

    Ethics chairman to step aside amid questions over reappointment

     

    By JIM WALLS

    The chairman of the Georgia Campaign Finance Commission, who says his appointment to the panel may technically have been illegal, is stepping down.

    Patrick Millsaps, a Camilla attorney who initiated the personnel moves that cost the commission its top two investigators, will continue to serve until Gov. Nathan Deal names a replacement, WXIA-TV reported last night.

    Ex-Gov. Sonny Perdue appointed Millsaps in 2009 to complete an unexpired term. Deal reappointed him in February to a four-year term ending in 2015.

    Members of the commission may only serve one full term, but that limit has been interpreted differently. Brian Robinson, the governor’s spokesman, has said Millsaps had only served a partial term when he was reappointed. Others contended his term technically began in 2007 and ended in February.

    Here’s what the law says:

    Upon the expiration of a member’s term of office, a new member, appointed in the same manner as the member whose term of office expired as provided in this subsection, shall become a member of the commission and shall serve for a term of four years and until such member’s successor is duly appointed and qualified. If a vacancy occurs in the membership of the commission, a new member shall be appointed to the unexpired term of office by the state official or the committee that appointed the vacating member. Members of the commission shall not serve for more than one complete term of office.

    The history of Millsaps’ first appointment in 2009 is complicated. He replaced Emmett Bowers, whose term had ended in 2007 but who continued to serve until his replacement had been named. Savannah lawyer Joseph “Rusty” Ross had been named to replace Bowers in late 2008, but he withdrew when news of a 12-year-old, $8 million verdict against his law firm surfaced. Ross was never sworn in.

    Before joining the commission, Millsaps had served on the boards of the Georgia Student Finance Commission and the Georgia Superior Court Clerks Cooperative Authority.

     

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