Today, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on the front page of the paper that nothing has happened since then.
Part of the excuse seems to be that the ethics commission “is vetting candidates to investigate the agency.”
Another part of the excuse is that the board is “still working through the precise parameters” of the probe.
And yet another part of the excuse is lack of funding for the investigation.
None of these excuses are acceptable. The time to move forward is now.
First, the ethics commission should not vet any candidates to investigate the agency. The choice of investigators should be turned over completely to the Attorney General.
That’s the only way this investigation will be independent.
Second, the “parameters” of the investigation are pretty clear.
The state’s top ethics attorney said the governor’s office was involved in efforts to destroy documents in an open investigation involving the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office.
The independent investigator must take a look at Gov. Deal’s financial documents at the heart of the matter.
And the independent investigator must look at records of all meetings between the governor’s hand-picked ethics chief Holly LaBerge and the governor’s office. In sworn depositions, LaBerge said she met privately with the governor’s office throughout the investigation.
Finally, there’s the matter of money.
When Gov. Deal took office he slashed the ethics budget and cut the staff from 26 people to just nine.
Starving the ethics commission to prevent this kind of investigation now appears to be part of the governor’s plan.
The ethics commission has already cried, “broke” once before. They used an imaginary budget crisis to get rid of two senior staffers who were on the verge of issuing subpoenas to review Gov. Deal’s financial records.
The only way forward is to look at those records.
Find the money. Now.
Take action now.
Call or write Attorney General Sam Olens. Tell him to get to work. He shouldn’t wait for an invitation from the ethics commission to conduct an independent investigation of the ethics commission.
Call AG Olens: (404) 656-3300. Email AG Olens: AGOlens@law.ga.gov.