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Ethics panel changes course, wants its own lawyer after all
By JIM WALLS
The State Campaign Finance Commission has changed its mind and wants to hire a staff attorney after all, four months after firing its last one.
The difference is, this one won’t make more than $55,000 a year and won’t be named Sherilyn Streicker, whose job was eliminated by the commission in June. Streicker, whose title was deputy executive secretary, was making $86,000 a year when she was let go.
At the time, she and her boss were asking commissioners to sign off on issuing subpoenas in an investigation of Gov. Nathan Deal’s 2010 campaign. Commissioners have said the staff downsizing had nothing to do with the Deal probe.
The agency posted the staff attorney’s job opening Friday, effectively ending a 90-day trial under which Attorney General Sam Olens’ office would have handled all the commission’s legal matters.
Holly LaBerge, the commission’s new executive secretary, said she learned in early September that the attorney general’s aid would not have included the type of investigative work that Streicker had handled.
“It became painfully obvious that I was going to be handling the caseload, and I can’t do both jobs.” LaBerge said. “They’re both full-time.”
Commissioners seemed to be under the impression that the staff was caught up with investigations for cases filed by the end of 2010, LaBerge said.
In fact, the commission still has a few cases pending since 2003, she said. There are dozens more that were opened in 2009 and 2010.
“And they’re not the easy ones, either,” LaBerge said. High-profile open cases including citizen complaints against Gov. Nathan Deal, former Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine and House Speaker David Ralston.