Beard’s stay at a luxury hotel in Paris wasn’t part of his restitution, for example, because he already repaid the city $10,000 last year after the AJC requested his credit card statements that revealed that charge.
Former Atlanta Chief Financial Officer Jim Beard.
Federal investigators also are scrutinizing travel and other spending records at City Hall as part of a multi-year corruption investigation.
Beard's Attorney Scott Grubman has argued that his client is not subject to any enforcement action from the city's ethics office because he is no longer an employee. Beard left the city in May 2018, after taxpayers covered $90,000 in his tuition and salary for a six-week business management training program at Harvard University.
Grubman said in a statement that Beard is “extremely disappointed” with the ruling, and will appeal.
“As Mr. Beard has stated on numerous occasions, he is not aware of any transaction or expenditure that was not fully justified,” Grubman’s statement says.
The ethics board in May rejected the argument that Beard is not subject to their jurisdiction. They maintained it has no merit again Thursday.
“It is not an argument that really stands up,” Board Chair Kate Wasch said.
Deputy Ethics Officer Carlos R. Santiago said if Grubman’s statement was true, an employee could avoid being held accountable for ethics violations by simply resigning.
According to a letter Grubman wrote to Wasch this month, the city wiped out Beard’s computer hard drive, leaving him unable to access records needed to defend himself.
“The concern that Mr. Beard is being denied due process by being denied access to any potentially helpful documents is not merely a hypothetical concern,” Grubman wrote. “It is supported by the City’s conduct in this case.”
But Santiago said that the information on Beard’s computer should be preserved in city’s cloud software. Beard could obtain it through a simple open records request to the department he once ran, Santiago said.
The board agreed.
“Just because a laptop is re-purposed does not mean that the actual contents were destroyed,” said Board Member Chris Gillmore.
Grubman said they’ve tried that but the city responded by saying it doesn’t have “custody or control of any records” that were stored on Beard’s computer.