Georgia Inspector General Deron R. Hicks says his staff found no evidence that his boss, Gov. Nathan Deal, pressed for the firing of the top two investigators at the ethics commission. The question is: How hard did he really look? Hicks’ inquiry did not address important disputed points, including whether the commission’s chairman, after being reappointed by Deal, had truly recused himself from an investigation of the governor’s campaign finances.
A state worker took advantage of lax oversight to refill his gas tank 40 times with the state’s money before anyone noticed, Georgia’s inspector general has found. The employee, a lieutenant at the Savannah Regional Youth Detention Center, used employee identification numbers (EINs) assigned to others when he used a state-issued fuel card to buy gas for himself, IG Elizabeth Archer said in a report issued Monday.
A dozen people, including a former sheriff, mishandled scores of absentee ballots cast in elections in four Georgia counties in 2008, state elections officials say. Investigators found ballots were requested or marked without voters’ knowledge, voters were assisted who did not need help, and some of the “helpers” covered their tracks by failing to sign paperwork to acknowledge their involvement. In Twiggs County, FBI analysis found fingerprints of former Sheriff Doyle Stone and his son, Greg Stone, on envelopes containing absentee ballots.
Two attorneys for the State Ethics Commission improperly used public resources to operate their private law practice, Inspector General Elizabeth Archer has found. Attorneys Yasha Heidari, who resigned in April, and Tom Plank used state-issued computers to research clients’ cases and abused sick leave, she said, and they created a potential conflict by representing a business operated by a man who offers his services as a lobbyist, a profession regulated by the ethics commission. UPDATE: The Ethics Commission said today it will implement the inspector general’s recommended remedies immediately and will “take appropriate action” after reviewing the findings regarding Plank.
Blown deadlines and sloppy contract oversight may cost Atlanta another $3.9 million in federal housing money. Atlanta messed up $6.8 million in funding commitments, or nearly two-thirds of all funding examined, federal auditors say. Planning and Community Development Commissioner James Shelby asked HUD to take extenuating circumstances into account, but HUD’s Inspector General was unmoved.
Georgia’s attorney general will pursue civil charges in an alleged election fraud case involving former Chattooga County State Court judge Carlton Vines. A jury in Summerville couldn’t reach a decision in April on criminal charges that Vines conspired to fix a 2006 election. The State Election Board on Thursday voted to turn over its investigation to the attorney general. Board member Randy Evans has indicated a civil fine of $100,000 is possible.
A 29-year employee of the state Department of Natural Resources, Thompson was transferred to a supervisory job but did no supervising. During an interview by the Inspector General’s office, Thompson flippantly stated, “I do nothing.”