Monday ethics hearing canceled; Court of Appeals next step

A hastily called hearing scheduled for Monday in the ongoing saga surrounding the state ethics commission has been canceled.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Ural Glanville had ordered all parties to court this coming Monday after former ethics commission executive director Holly LaBerge appealed his decision to fine her $10,000. But LaBerge’s attorney, Lee Parks, told the judge that LaBerge does not want to have a hearing and that it is the Court of Appeals, not Glanville, that now has jurisdiction over the case.

The commission and LaBerge were sued by former commission executive director Stacey Kalberman, who claimed she was forced from office in 2011 for aggressively investigating Gov. Nathan Deal’s 2010 campaign. A Fulton County jury in April awarded her $700,000 in damages plus $450,000 in back pay and attorneys fees.

In the months since, however, it was revealed that top aides to Deal called and texted LaBerge a week before the commission voted in July 2012 to dismiss major charges against Deal. Those texts and emails, plus a memo in which LaBerge described feeling pressured by the contacts, were never turned over to Kalberman’s lawyers.

Glanville earlier this month sanctioned both LaBerge and the Attorney General’s Office, which defended LaBerge and the commission in the Kalberman case, for not providing Kalberman’s attorneys with the documents.

But he fined LaBerge individually, meaning she would be personally responsible for the fine, while she was sued only in her official capacity. Had Glanville sanctioned her as the commission’s director, taxpayers would be responsible for paying the $10,000.

Parks, LaBerge’s attorney, argues that Glanville was wrong to sanction her personally.