DeKalb Ethics Board cracks down on mass emails

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DeKalb Ethics Board cracks down on mass emails

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The DeKalb County Board of Ethics voted Thursday to issue an advisory opinion limiting mass communications from officials in the months leading up to an election. MARK NIESSE / MARK.NIESSE@AJC.COM

DeKalb County’s elected officials have been warned: Sending too many mass emails from government accounts before an election isn’t allowed.

The DeKalb Board of Ethics unanimously approved an advisory opinion Thursday that limits official communications because they may amount to political campaigning.

Violations of the board’s guidance could result in ethics charges.

“County resources may never be used to support or oppose the election or re-election of a candidate for political office, nor any referendum measure,” according to the advisory opinion.

DeKalb commissioners frequently send emails to communicate with residents about events, policy proposals and public meetings. But the advisory opinion means they’ll now have to be more careful when they’re running for office.

The ruling only covers use of government resources and doesn’t apply to political mailings from campaigns.

Candidates who are up for election can’t send more than two mass communications of any form — through U.S. mail, email or county internet — from official addresses during the 90 days before any primary, runoff, general election, special election or referendum, according to the advisory opinion.

Their communications can’t promote or disparage any candidate, acknowledge holidays, advertise festivals or offer a position on political issues except those that are pending before the DeKalb Commission.

Candidates are allowed to communicate about election dates, sample ballots, board meeting agendas and official meetings, the opinion says.

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