For a decade, infighting, vitriol and litigation has been business as usual at Georgia’s state ethics commission. Three executive directors have resigned or been fired since 2006. Two other employees collected $405,000 in damages for allegedly wrongful termination. Lawmakers stripped the agency of 40 percent of its funding, its power to make new rules, even its name. Much of this has come to pass, critics say, because the commission answers to the very politicians it’s supposed to regulate and investigate. Legislative leaders set its budget, control its powers and, along with the governor, decide who its five members will be. It’s time, former ethics chief Teddy Lee says, for a truly independent commission. “It’s got to be set up in a way that it can’t be manipulated,” says Lee, “by people who have no desire to be overseen or second-guessed.”
Infighting at ATL public schools may jeopardize millions Business accused of charging Fulton Co. to bus dead people Did legislator’s wife try to derail murder trial? Worker sent pornographic e-mails on gov’t server Governor to appoint panel to review Kenerly indictment
Infighting and tax troubles threaten the future of a citizens’ group founded to improve the Summerhill community near Turner Field. The Summerhill Neighborhood Development Corp. has sued its founder, former state Rep. Douglas Dean, alleging he secretly pledged the nonprofit’s property to back $2.4 million in bank loans — now in default — to benefit a private developer. The non-profit, according to the suit, “now faces the very real possibility of losing substantially all of its real property assets.” In addition, federal tax records list $470,000 in unsecured, interest-free loans from the non-profit to Dean and his wife, and $50,000 to the group’s new CEO. Dean says those payments were reimbursements of money he loaned the non-profit over the years. IRS auditors could find little or no documentation for those debts.