DeKalb Ethics Board restarts work during appeal

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DeKalb Ethics Board restarts work during appeal

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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The DeKalb County Board of Ethics during a meeting June 30, 2016. From left are Board of Ethics members Robert Tatum, Shermanetta Carter, Daniel DeWoskin and Greg Russell. MARK NIESSE / MARK.NIESSE@AJC.COM

The DeKalb County Board of Ethics is planning to get back to work, three months after a judge invalidated most of its members.

Because the judge’s ruling is being appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court, the full board can resume doing business while the case is under review, said DeKalb Ethics Officer Stacey Kalberman.  

“Pending the appeal, Georgia law is very clear that we are in a status quo position and can continue to meet,” Kalberman said.

The board scheduled a meeting for Aug. 1 to discuss how to move forward, she said.

DeKalb Superior Court Judge Asha Jackson ruled on April 28 that members of the DeKalb Board of Ethics should have been appointed by elected government officials, not by outside groups. Four of the board’s seven members were chosen by non-governmental organizations: the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, the DeKalb Bar Association, Leadership DeKalb and a consortium of six colleges and universities.

An attorney for the board filed notice of appeal May 5. 

But an attorney for former DeKalb Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton, who filed the lawsuit against the Ethics Board, is trying to stop the appeal. The attorney, Dwight Thomas, argued in court documents that the board can’t appeal since most of its members were disqualified by Jackson’s ruling. Jackson hasn’t ruled on the issue.

In the meantime, the DeKalb Board of Ethics intends to restart its monthly meetings, Kalberman said.

The board is responsible for reviewing conflicts of interest, improper spending and other non-criminal infractions. It has the power to issue public reprimands and impose fines up to $1,000.

There are no cases on the agenda. The agenda says the board will discuss litigation, review expenses and approve meeting minutes.

The decision may mean that DeKalb is without an effective ethics board indefinitely.
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