State News

October 22, 2013

Ethics agency close to finalizing outside probe

ATLANTA — Key details of who will handle an outside investigation into the state ethics commission are close to being finalized, the panel’s chairman said Monday.

It’s been three weeks since the board of the ethics commission voted to request a special assistant attorney general be appointed to look into circumstances surrounding two lawsuits against the agency as well as unspecified personnel issues.

The commission has been sued by its former executive secretary and her deputy, who claim retaliation for work investigating ethics complaints filed against Gov. Nathan Deal. Those lawsuits are pending in Fulton County Superior Court.

Commission Chairman Kevin Abernethy said in a telephone interview that his fellow commissioners have vetted a number of different options and are close to identifying the appropriate people to run the investigation.

“We have spent considerable time and hours thinking through — as we would any investigation — as to the best way we would handle it,” Abernethy said.

He declined to answer questions about the scope of the inquiry, saying he wants the investigation to remain independent.

Eventually, Deal agreed to pay $3,350 in administrative fees to settle the ethics complaints, which centered on his personal financial and campaign finance reports.

Among those called to provide depositions in the two pending lawsuits are current commission Executive Secretary Holly LaBerge and Staff Attorney Elisabeth Murray-Obertein, who was hired by LaBerge. In recent weeks, Murray-Obertein has aired concerns about LaBerge, saying LaBerge has on more than one occasion said the governor “owes her” for taking care of his ethics complaints.

That prompted a scathing response from Deal, who said he doesn’t know LaBerge and doesn’t owe her anything. LaBerge’s attorney has denied the claims against her, saying she treated the complaints in a fair and impartial way.

Meanwhile, an attorney for Murray-Obertein has said she’s been contacted several times by the FBI, although it’s not clear whether the questions relate to any active investigation. The FBI has declined comment.

———

Follow Christina Almeida Cassidy on Twitter: http://twitter.com/AP—Christina .

 

1
Text Only
State News
  • One charged in death of Dalton woman, another sought

    A Dalton woman found dead in Calhoun earlier this month is believed to have died of a drug overdose after two Calhoun residents abandoned her in a car behind the VFW on East Line Street, Lt. Tony Pyle with the Calhoun Police Department said Wednesday afternoon.

    June 18, 2014

  • Guard shot at FedEx center to undergo 14th surgery

    A security guard critically wounded when a gunman went on a rampage at a FedEx facility is scheduled to undergo his 14th operation Tuesday.

    May 27, 2014

  • Arson ruled out as cause of chemical plant fire

    Police say investigators have been able to rule out arson or foul play as the cause of a massive fire at a chemical plant outside Atlanta that spewed black smoke and flames visible for miles.

    May 27, 2014

  • Teen tied to shopping cart drowns in lake

    Georgia Department of Natural Resources officials say a teen has died after being tied to a shopping cart and pushed into Lake Allatoona.

    May 25, 2014

  • Underground tattoo artists frustrate officials

    The work of tattoo artists whose living rooms double as body art studios might come cheap, but experts say the unsterile -- and illegal -- work environments could leave clients in pain long after the initial sting of the needle subsides.

    May 25, 2014

  • No runoff lets Republicans focus on Rep. Barrow

    While Georgia Republicans have to wait until July to settle runoff races for the U.S. Senate and three open House seats, one of the biggest GOP victories in the primary elections last week went to Augusta businessman Rick W. Allen.

    May 25, 2014

  • Audit probes juvenile justice turnover rate

    A state audit cites low pay, long hours and management concerns as reasons for a relatively high turnover rate at the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice.

    May 25, 2014

  • Atlanta schools ex-tech director to be sentenced

    After his relationship with the superintendent of Atlanta’s school system soured, a former technology director for the district set up a kickback scheme to pad his pockets before he left his job, according to court documents.

    May 24, 2014

  • Georgia veteran, 92, honored at surprise ceremony

    Family and friends surprised a 92-year-old World War II veteran from Georgia on Memorial Day by honoring him and presenting him with the World War II Victory Medal.

    May 24, 2014

  • Police: Massive chemical plant fire extinguished

    Authorities say a massive fire at a chemical plant outside Atlanta that spewed black smoke and flames visible for miles has been extinguished.

    May 24, 2014