Douglas County Assistant District Attorney David Emadi, right, has been offered the job of executive secretary of the state ethics commission. (HENRY TAYLOR / HENRY.TAYLOR@AJC.COM)

Georgia ethics panel offers director job to Douglas County prosecutor

The state ethics commission voted Monday to hire David Emadi, the chief assistant district attorney in Douglas County, as its new director.

The panel’s top administrator quit about a month ago after staffers filed complaints saying he watched pornography at work and recommended sitting on campaign finance cases.

Emadi, who also worked briefly as an aide to Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, was offered a $125,000 salary by the commission, which voted 3-1 to hire him.

Commission Chairman Jake Evans said Emadi’s experience as both a prosecutor and former legislative aide helped persuade the panel to offer him the job.

“We wanted some energy, we wanted some experience both on the legislative side and the prosecutorial side,” Evans said. “David is going to come in with that youth, that energy, that inspiration.”

Evans said the fact that Emadi has prosecuted cases in recent years suits him for the post.

“In this kind of role, you are going to have to be willing to go against some heavy hitters, people who may have a lot of power,” the chairman said. “Mr. Emadi has taken on some very difficult cases.”

Emadi has also been politically active in the Douglas County Republican Party, and he donated $600 last year to Brian Kemp’s successful campaign for governor.

Nine finalists were named as potential replacements for Stefan Ritter, who resigned as director of the state ethics commission in February.

The agency, formally known as the Georgia Government Transparency & Campaign Finance Commission, is charged with collecting campaign finance, vendor gift and lobbying expenditure reports; registering lobbyists; issuing advisory opinions; and dispensing penalties for violations.

Ritter resigned in the midst of an investigation into the complaints. He was awarded three months’ salary, about $45,000.

Ritter, who was being paid $180,000 a year, had run the agency since 2015 and was credited with helping reduce its massive backlog of cases following a period of scandal.

The complaints, from three staffers, listed a series of problems over the past year. A staffer said she found hundreds of pornographic images on his computer. Other staffers said they saw him viewing porn in the office.

In addition, both chief lawyers in the office said the commission staff found that during campaign report audits, possible violations were found against multiple mayoral candidates during the 2017 campaign and in the race for governor in 2018. Instead of filing complaints, they said, Ritter told them to let the candidates correct the errors.

Evans said those investigations are still ongoing.

“Those are up and running, the investigations are being evaluated,” Evans said. “When Mr. Emadi steps in, that will be one of his first priorities.”

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