Mud flies in Gwinnett Clerk of Court race

The Gwinnett County Clerk of Court’s race is usually a snooze, if not a foregone conclusion, but not so this election season.

Mud has been flying in the matchup between Republican incumbent Richard Alexander and his Democratic challenger Brian Whiteside.

Whiteside, a lawyer and former deputy who lost a bid for Gwinnett County sheriff in 2004, has widely distributed a flier and email alleging that his opponent is having an affair with his administrative assistant, Lori Taylor.

Both reference a YouTube video that purports to show the pair leaving a Holiday Inn Express in Norcross on the morning of May 19. Alexander’s wife, who filed for divorce in May, has admitted posting the YouTube video, which she said she obtained from a private investigator.

Whiteside also accuses Alexander in the flier of giving Taylor a “taxpayer sponsored raise of $25,000” by promoting her to a higher-paying position.

“The last thing we need in Gwinnett County is another corrupt official,” Whiteside said.

Alexander and Taylor both declined to respond to the allegation of an affair. Alexander said in an email, “I will not discuss my personal life as a campaign issue.” Gwinnett County does not have a policy that prohibits supervisors from having romantic relationships with employees.

Reached separately, they refuted the claim that Alexander influenced Taylor’s promotion from clerk to administrative assistant.

County personnel records show Taylor was promoted in January 2011 under former Clerk of Court Tom Lawler. She interviewed for the job before Alexander was hired as chief deputy clerk in November 2010.

Taylor said Lawler offered her the position in July 2010 when he learned of an upcoming retirement.

“My position, my promotion, my raise, all of that was prior to Mr. Alexander being employed by the clerk’s office,” she said, adding she hasn’t had a raise since she took the position.

Lawler died after a long battle with cancer on Nov. 23, 2011. Alexander was appointed to replace him.

Alexander has accused Whiteside of an ethical lapse for failing to file campaign contribution and personal financial disclosure reports in June. Whiteside owes a total of $250 in fines for the two infractions, according to the state ethics commission website.

Whiteside said he tried to email the disclosures and apparently they didn’t go through, because he received notice that he was late in filing. He said he mailed the disclosures to the state on Friday.

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