Ethics complaint over ‘racist pig’ post is ‘not a joke,’ attorneys say

Asked Monday about the new ethics complaint filed against Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter, spokesman Seth Weathers wondered if the “filing attorneys had really passed the bar.”

Those attorneys — and the woman on whose behalf they filed the complaint — took a more serious tone Tuesday.

“This is not a joke for Nancie, nor for us,” attorney Helen Kim Ho said in a press conference prior to the Board of Commissioners’ 2 p.m. meeting. “We are skilled attorneys. There are merits to this case."

Ho and Christine Koehler filed the ethics complaint Monday on behalf of Atlanta resident Nancie Turner. It claims Hunter's Facebook posts — including the now infamous one in which he referred to U.S. Rep. John Lewis as a "racist pig" — violated three tenets of the county's ethics ordinance, including a section that says employees and officials should "never engage in conduct which is unbecoming to a member or which constitutes a breach of public trust."

The complaint is the first one received by the county since it adopted its current ethics ordinance in 2011, amid a corruption scandal involving shady land deals first exposed by The AJC. The ordinance's primary function is to target improper business relationships and other potential conflicts of interest by county employees.

If the county’s never-before-used ethics board is convened to address the complaint and votes to sustain it, possible penalties range from written reprimand to removal from office and “referral to proper criminal authorities.”

Ho, Koehler and Turner said Tuesday they have faith that their complaint will be successful. They  hope Hunter is forced out of office.

“This isn't just about the one statement he made, but rather the entire display of divisiveness and hatefulness his Facebook page displays,” Turner said. It’s not believed to be necessary for someone who files an ethics complaint to be a resident of Gwinnett County.

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