Legislator asks last DeKalb ethics members to resign

Credit: Jason Getz / AJC

Credit: Jason Getz / AJC

A day after the four remaining members of the troubled DeKalb County Ethics Board met to choose a new chair and seek to hire lawyers, a key area legislator is asking them all to resign.

“As the original author of the legislation that reestablished the DeKalb County Board of Ethics in 2020, I am extremely disappointed in the events that transpired which led to the resignation of the majority of their board members,” state Sen. Emanuel Jones, D-Decatur, said Tuesday. “The actions of a few rogue members of the Ethics Board have cast a shadow on the board’s purpose.

“DeKalb is better than this.”

The board is supposed to have seven regular members and two alternates, but disintegrated in the last months as five members resigned in quick succession. Chair Alex Joseph went first, followed quickly by David Moskowitz, Candace Walker, Shawanda Reynolds-Cobb and Candace Rogers. That left only Nadine Ali and Rita Waymon as regular members, and Bill Clark and Carthea Simelton-Treminio as alternates.

The resignations came after Joseph’s failed attempt to remove Clark, whom she accused of insulting and obstructive behavior. Bonnie Levine, the board’s general counsel, quit on March 3, citing conflicts with the remaining members and fears of the remaining board members conducting business illegally.

“I call on all remaining members of the DeKalb County Board of Ethics to resign in order to establish an entirely new DeKalb County Board of Ethics, alleviating the risk of personal agendas and baggage interfering with the intended role of the DeKalb County Board of Ethics,” Jones said. “Simply adding additional members to the existing board will not solve the overall problem at hand.”

The last four members held a special meeting Monday to name Waymon as interim chair, declare they were looking to hire lawyers, cancel their scheduled Wednesday meeting and announce they would not act on regular business until more people were appointed to fill the five empty seats — which they expect by the next regular meeting, April 20.

At the Monday meeting, Clark defended a legal interpretation allowing himself and Simelton-Treminio to act as full board members, thus reaching a legal quorum.

Joseph has filed a petition with the state seeking to remove Waymon, Clark and Simelton-Treminio, but not Ali. She accuses the three of noncompliance with state laws, concealing corruption, unbecoming conduct and breaching public trust.

The board also faces a federal lawsuit and civil rights complaint from its former deputy ethics officer LaTonya Nix Wiley, alleging racial discrimination and retaliation.

The DeKalb state legislative delegation and two county officials put out a call Thursday for nominations to fill the ethics board’s five vacant seats. Nominations will be taken at appointment.dekalb.ethics@gmail.com. They should include a resume and brief statement of the nominee’s interest in the board.