Ethics complaints filed over DeKalb commissioners' accounts

Ethics complaints against DeKalb County Commissioner Stan Watson and former Commissioner Elaine Boyer allege they violated Georgia campaign fundraising laws when they used DeKalb Chamber of Commerce accounts to fund various charitable organizations.

The complaints, filed by William Perry of Georgia Ethics Watchdogs, cite a Channel 2 Action News report that exposed the accounts this week.

Watson was able to spend more than $90,000 from the accounts for community activities and charitable organizations, Perry wrote in a Wednesday letter to the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission.

Perry’s complaint said Watson’s expenses should be considered campaign contributions because they “aid in the promotion of a candidate for public office.”

"This amounts to a secret slush fund for public officials who are candidates," Perry told Channel 2. "This is what you could call dark money. It's completely hidden. No one would have any idea that this was happening if you hadn't uncovered these documents."

The contributions weren’t reported on Watson’s campaign finance disclosure reports, and they exceed contribution limits, the complaint said.

The money supported the DeKalb International Food and Music Festival, the DeKalb Police Alliance, Watson’s breakfast meetings with community members and other events.

“Instead of using county funds, we used vendors to pay the chamber, and the chamber would pay our bills,” Watson told Channel 2.

In a previous case, the DeKalb Board of Ethics reprimanded Watson in August for voting to give his employer a county contract.

The ethics complaint against Boyer makes similar allegations to Watson’s.

Boyer is serving a 14-month sentence after pleading guilty to participating in an $85,000 kickback scheme.