Ethics complaint filed against Gwinnett leader over ‘racist pig’ post

Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter sits beside chairman Charlotte Nash during a Jan. 17 meeting. (HENRY TAYLOR / HENRY.TAYLOR@AJC.COM)

Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter sits beside chairman Charlotte Nash during a Jan. 17 meeting. (HENRY TAYLOR / HENRY.TAYLOR@AJC.COM)

A formal ethics complaint has been filed against Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter, who has been at the center of controversy after calling civil rights leader and U.S. Rep. John Lewis a "racist pig" on Facebook.

Attorneys representing a woman named Nancie Turner said the complaint was filed Monday on her behalf. The complaint alleges that Hunter's Facebook activity violated three parts of the Gwinnett County Code of Ethics, which was adopted in 2011 and is primarily intended to target improper business relationships and other potential conflicts of interest by county employees.

The lawyers, Helen Kim Ho and Christine Anne Koehler, said in a press release they are also “asking that the County Ethics Board refer the matter to the Solicitor General of Gwinnett County so that she can determine if Mr. Hunter was in violation of misdemeanor law with one or more of his Facebook posts.”

They plan to hold a press conference before the Board of Commissioners’ meeting at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

Hunter made his “racist pig” comment on his personal Facebook page on Jan. 14, amid a well-publicized feud between Lewis and then-president-elect Donald Trump. The AJC published screenshots of the post — which also referred to Democrats as “Demonrats” — and a few others two days later.

Hunter has apologized for his "choice of words" in the Lewis post and agreed to attend the Gwinnett NAACP's meeting on Valentine's Day, but has repeatedly said he won't resign.

While advocacy groups have called for that to happen and protesters have clogged the public comment sections at Board of Commissioners' meetings, the ethics complaint is believed to be the first formal action taken against Hunter.

The complaint suggests that Hunter’s social media activity violated portions of the ethics code that say commissioners should “put loyalty to the highest moral principles and to County above loyalty to persons, party or County government department”; “never engage in conduct which is unbecoming to a member or which constitutes a breach of public trust”; and “uphold these principles, ever conscious that public office is a public trust and is an honor, not a right.”

But Seth Weathers, a campaign consultant who has acted as a spokesman for Hunter, didn’t seem concerned when asked about the complaint Monday morning.

“Did the filing attorneys really pass the bar?” he wrote in a text message to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Read the full story on myAJC.com.