There's no indication that Watson, who stepped down last March to run for county tax commissioner, reimbursed the money, a county spokesman told Channel 2. Watson lost the three-way race for tax commissioner.
The money was intended to pay for Delta flights, hotel stays, conference registration fees and meals, according to documents obtained by Channel 2 under Georgia’s Open Records Act.
Watson couldn’t be reached for comment by Channel 2.
Unrelated ethics allegations remain pending against Watson.
The DeKalb Board of Ethics decided in October there was probable cause to move forward with a case accusing Watson of spending more than $90,000 that he solicited from county contractors and held in a private DeKalb Chamber of Commerce account.
The case stalled after Watson’s attorney challenged the board’s authority.
Similar claims are the subject of a lawsuit against the Board of Ethics by former DeKalb Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton.
Her lawsuit says the Georgia Constitution requires board members to be appointed by elected officials rather than by private organizations.
Mark Niesse covers voting rights and elections for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He also reports on the Georgia House of Representatives and government. He has been a reporter at the AJC since 2013 following a decade at The Associated Press in Atlanta, Honolulu and Montgomery, Ala.