July 11, 2016 – Vendors and companies with business before DeKalb County officials kicked in tens of thousands of dollars in undisclosed donations to fund a county commissioner’s pet community projects, newly available public records show.
At least $44,000 was collected on behalf of Commissioner Stan Watson from 2011 to 2014 from such companies, including water and sewer vendors, pension investment managers and companies seeking tax breaks and land-use decisions from the county.
Atlanta Unfiltered obtained records naming many donors to the Watson’s fund, unidentified until now, from the state ethics commission through a request under the Open Records Act. The commission last month dismissed a complaint against the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, which acted as fiscal agent for the fund, but is conducting a preliminary inquiry into Watson.
A DeKalb County fire captain won his job back today as the Georgia Supreme Court ruled CEO Burrell Ellis must abide by decisions of a hearing officer, the county’s Merit System Council and a Superior Court judge. Capt. Sell Caldwell III was one of several firefighters who were dismissed after a fatal 2010 house fire in Dunwoody.
A joint investigation by ProPublica, PBS “Frontline” and NPR looks into nearly two dozen cases in which people were accused of killing children based on flawed forensic opinions and then later cleared. Among them: Melonie Ware, acquitted at a DeKalb County retrial in 2009 after spending more than a year in jail for the alleged murder of a 9-month-old boy she was babysitting.
Mark Elgart, when not scaring the pants off of local school boards, draws a paycheck of more than $350,000 from this Alpharetta-based non-profit, Advance Education Inc. Tax records show four other senior staffers also earn $150,000 or more.
A former deputy DeKalb County police chief has admitted taking a businessman’s bribes. Ex-Lt. Donald E. Frank faces up to five years in federal prison. Sentencing has not been scheduled, which often means that prosecutors want to see whether a defendant can supply useful information — and, if necessary, testify — about criminal activity by others.
Two DeKalb County housing officials were cleared Wednesday of ethics charges stemming from their solicitation of political and charitable contributions from a private developer. George Maddox and Dorothy Williams, both board members of the DeKalb Housing Authority, each accepted $2,500 in donations from the developer. The DeKalb Board of Ethics found no evidence that the transactions influenced their official actions.
What’s the difference between an apparent conflict of interest and the real deal? In the world of government ethics, it’s all about the language crafted by the lawyers and the wiggle room they’ve left for other lawyers to argue about. Ethics codes in Georgia vary from one jurisdiction to another. Many prohibit a public officer from trading on his or her position for personal benefit but, as they say, the devil’s in the details.
Gwinnett grand jury: Bannister resigned to avoid indictment More DeKalb school board candidates have arrest records Henry County says legislator owes taxpayers $25K DeKalb County faces $1.9M legal bill
Two DeKalb County housing officials face an ethics inquiry into their requests for charitable and political donations from a developer doing business with their agency. An Oct. 19 hearing is scheduled for Dorothy Williams and former state Rep. George Maddox, both members of the DeKalb County Housing Authority’s board, who asked developer Dave Dixon to give to various causes. Dixon said he or his business gave them each $2,500 for a total of $5,000.
The founder of the PATH Foundation may continue to serve on the board of the DeKalb County Development Authority, the county’s Board of Ethics ruled tonight. DeKalb has paid PATH $8 million since 2004 to manage construction of biking and hiking trails in the county. Neighborhood activists complained that PATH’s executive director, Ed McBrayer, had a conflict of interest because he also serves on the authority’s board.
A top DeKalb economic development official has a conflict of interest because he also heads a group that’s received $8 million in county payments, the DeKalb ethics board was told Wednesday night. McBrayer “is very clearly receiving a benefit from the PATH Foundation,” which has collected $8 million from DeKalb since 2004, said Brian Daughdrill, lawyer for a neighborhood group that lodged a complaint. But McBrayer’s lawyer, Elizabeth Branch, said those restrictions apply only to for-profit businesses, not non-profits: “Being a non-profit makes all the difference in the world.”