Gwinnett County: Hunter appeals ruling in suit challenging ‘racist pig’ ethics board

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Gwinnett County: Hunter appeals ruling in suit challenging ‘racist pig’ ethics board

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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Gwinnett county commissioner Tommy Hunter sits beside chairman Charlotte Nash at a January meeting. (HENRY TAYLOR / HENRY.TAYLOR@AJC.COM File Photo)

As promised, Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter has appealed the dismissal of his lawsuit challenging the ethics board that recommended his public reprimand. 

The case is now likely to head to the Georgia Supreme Court.

Hunter’s attorney, Dwight Thomas, filed his notice of appeal on July 17, about three weeks after Gwinnett Superior Court Judge Melodie Snell Conner dismissed Hunter’s lawsuit.  

The suit argued that the ethics board that investigated Hunter’s social media activity — including a Facebook post calling U.S. Rep. John Lewis a “racist pig” — was unconstitutional because some members were appointed by private entities instead of elected officials.

In her June 28 order dismissing the suit, Conner wrote that the commissioner’s claims were misguided because Gwinnett’s ethics board is merely a recommending body. The ultimate power to administer discipline or take other actions lies in the hands of Hunter’s colleagues on the Board of Commissioners, who voted June 20 to issue a public reprimand. 

That reprimand admonished Hunter for exhibiting a “pattern of behavior that fails to adequately consider the good of the county.” It was posted on the county’s website, on the courthouse wall and in the Gwinnett Daily Post, the county’s legal organ.

In his notice of appeal, Thomas argued that Georgia’s Supreme Court should hear Hunter’s case because it’s one where “the constitutionality of a law, ordinance, or constitutional provision has been drawn into question.”

Hunter's consultant and spokesman, Seth Weathers, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. A Gwinnett spokeswoman said the county does not comment on pending litigation.

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