Stephens ‘wanted to be honest,’ agrees to ethics fine
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By JIM WALLS
May 27, 2016 — Rep. Ron Stephens has agreed to pay a modest fine for failing to list ownership of four businesses on his financial disclosures.
In January, Stephens amended his disclosures for 2012 through 2014 to add four companies based in Chatham County to the businesses in which he owned an interest.
The Garden City Republican said he knew the new filing might lead to a complaint “but I wanted to be honest. … I didn’t want to keep anything hidden.”
Several weeks after receiving the amendments, the state ethics commission filed a complaint against Stephens for failing to name the businesses in the first place. “Amendments do not excuse the respondent’s failure to properly report his business and investment interests,” the complaint said.
Elected officials in Georgia are required to file an annual financial disclosure listing their business for real estate interests for the previous year.
Stephens said the businesses in question own property that he’s working to a family member, but the process has taken longer than expected. “We started it three years ago thinking it would be done now,” he said.
Tybee Condo Investors LLC, one of the companies that Stephens added to his disclosures, owns 39 condominium units at the Sea & Breeze Hotel on Tybee Island, Chatham County tax records show.
Another of the companies, Wilmington Island Partners LLC, owns a $1.5 million medical office building.
Stephens said he couldn’t recall the amount of the fine for certain but believes it is in the neighborhood of $250. A proposed consent order to settle the case, which remains confidential for now, is on the ethics commission’s June 23 agenda.