Stefan Ritter, (right), a senior assistant attorney general was chosen to head the state ethics commission in 2015 and reported this week the agency has eliminated a years-long backlog of ethics cases . BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Georgia ethics panel finally ending years-long backlog of cases

Three years ago the state agency in charge of policing the ethics of Georgia politicians and lobbyists was a mess, with few staffers and a backlog of more than 150 cases, some dating to before the Great Recession.

This past week the agency’s executive secretary, Stefan Ritter, told the ethics commission that the backlog had mostly been eliminated.

There are still a few back cases the state is seeking to collect money on. And the long-running ethics complaints against former gubernatorial hopeful and Georgia Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine are still being fought in the courts.

But Ritter said a couple of consent agreements involving candidates with cases dating to 2010 and 2012 last Wednesday largely wrapped up the lengthy backlog of cases he and his staff have plowed through.

The commission for years was plagued by three years of litigation, accusations of dirty dealing and back-stabbing among staff. Whistleblower lawsuits from former employees forced the state to pay out millions of dollars, with the most prominent case coming from a former executive director. For long periods of time, little in the way of handling ethics complaints was actually getting done.

For more on the backlog, see myajc.com.

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