FBI questions ethics lawyer at center of Deal complaint

The FBI has questioned a state ethics commission lawyer who raised concerns about the panel’s investigation into Gov. Nathan Deal, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned.

Ethics commission Executive Secretary Holly LaBerge said Thursday that staff attorney Elisabeth Murray-Obertein had talked with the FBI. The statement came as a response to an Open Records Act request. Murray-Obertein’s attorney, Brian Sutherland, also confirmed she had spoken with federal agents but declined to say what they discussed.

In sworn statements filed in connection with a pair of whistle-blower lawsuits, Murray-Obertein said LaBerge bragged about her relationship with Deal and said that he “owed her” after the commission dismissed the most serious campaign finance complaints against Deal. Instead, they levied $3,350 in penalties for technical violations on his campaign and personal financial disclosures.

It was not certain whether the FBI or Murray-Obertein initiated the questioning. FBI spokesman Stephen Emmett also declined to comment, citing department policy. And the U.S. Attorney’s office also declined to comment.

Deal and his aides have long denied any wrongdoing. His attorney, Randy Evans, said Deal and his office have not been contacted by federal agents.

“This has nothing to do with us,” Evans said. “We have been very careful throughout this process.”

Return to myajc.com for the complete story.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.