State ethics director resigns after porn, misconduct allegations

The director of the state Ethics Commission has resigned -- with a $45,000 severance -- and it’s still unknown whether accusations against him have been substantiated.

In January, Channel 2 Action News and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution broke the story that staff members at the Ethics Commission wrote letters accusing Stefan Ritter of poor work habits and of watching pornography in the office.

[READ MORE: State ethics director put on paid leave over porn, misconduct allegations]

Ritter was placed on leave with pay to allow time to investigate the complaints.

Ritter continued to draw his $181,000 salary while the accusations against him were investigated, but he and the commission cut a deal before the investigation was over.

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"I haven't even seen any allegations, so it's puzzling to me, but I will, you know, try to follow," Ritter told Channel 2 Action News in January.

Ritter had been the commission's chief since 2015 and was praised for helping cut down on the agency's backlog of cases, according to our partners at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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Chairman Jake Evans was asked Friday if the investigation confirmed the allegations, which Ritter called incorrect.

"I can't respond to that," Evans said.

"Did the investigation find any evidence of wrongdoing?" Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher asked.

"I think at that point, the public can evaluate the claims. The investigation did not come to a full completion, and so we can't make an opinion one way or another," Evans said.

Evans admitted they're paying the settlement to protect the agency from any future action by Ritter.

Belcher asked how a $45,000 settlement will look to the public.

"This was a situation where we have to do everything in our power to protect the commission, protect the agency," Evans said. "Obtaining a release as far as all future claims has substantial merit, and we think this is undoubtedly the best result for the commission and Mr. Ritter."

"Was he threatening to sue?" Belcher asked.

"I can't answer that question," Evans said.

Evans said the investigation ultimately stopped when Ritter and his attorney suggested a negotiated settlement and resignation. Evans confirmed that Ritter initially demanded a six-month, $90,000 settlement.

He said the original complaints and the results of the partial investigation will be released Feb. 18.

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