Ethics Investigation Called for in Franklin County

July 8, 2013

By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia


Franklin County’s board of commissioners is calling for an investigation into ethics violations after learning issues discussed behind closed doors in executive session were leaked.

In Georgia, certain matters, such as personnel issues or decisions, real estate, and pending litigation may be discussed in executive session without it becoming public record as in a regular open meeting.

At a recent work session, Commissioner Clint Harper requested the investigation.

Harper told the board he no longer felt comfortable with how executive sessions were conducted.

“To me there’s no confidence anymore in executive session until something changes,” said Harper.

Commissioner Jeff Jacques said he had no problem with requesting an investigation but asked that the newly formed county ethics board do an internal investigation first.

“I know over the last couple of years we actually installed an ethics board locally, and that was the purpose and intent of seating that board,” he told the commission.

But Harper said a local board could not do the kind of full investigation that needs to be done.

“I would not think that we should do that,” Harper said. “To the point, a full investigation needs to be done. I think the Georgia Ethics Commission would be more suitable in getting to the bottom of it. They have more experience and more resources and that’s what I’m calling for is an investigation.”

Commissioner David Strickland suggested that for future meetings, the board have a Sheriff’s deputy stand outside the door to ensure no one is listening.

But Harper said a deputy might not always be available and he asked again for the investigation.

The board plans to vote on the matter at their next regular meeting.