Alpharetta arts commission member subject of ethics investigation

An Alpharetta panel will meet soon to determine if an ethics complaint against a member of the Cultural Arts Commission shows a possible code violation and warrants a hearing.

Vice Chairman Gene Andrews is the subject of a complaint filed Aug. 19 by Atlanta artist Jennifer Sutton who states that he used his position to intimidate and threaten her business.

Andrews told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that his disagreement with Sutton was over artwork for a client he represents and was not a city matter.

“Really, it’s nothing that’s being made into something,” he said.

Sutton declined to comment while her complaint is being investigated.

Thursday, Assistant City Administrator James Drinkard said the Board of Ethics had not yet met to discuss the complaint. During a special called meeting Sept 1, Alpharetta City Council drew five names from a pool of Ethics Commission members to review the issue.

Andrews has served on the Cultural Arts Commission for about a year and a half, he said.

The Commission advises Alpharetta on purchasing works of art, as well as enrichment programs and performances to implement.

The original business between Sutton and Andrews did not involve Alpharetta, according to documents obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Earlier this summer, Sutton took artwork created by Andrew’s client to a show she was a part of in New York City. Later, arguments over contractual terms and the return of the artwork took place in heated text and phone messages and emails, the parties say.

Andrews referred to his position on the Cultural Arts Commission during a heated exchange with Sutton, a copy of a text message shows.

Andrews said he’s lived in Alpharetta for 20 years. He said that he referred to himself as a “city commissioner” to show that he’s familiar with art as well as the law.