State settles all remaining ethics commission cases

State government on Friday will announce it has settled two remaining lawsuits against its ethics commission as well as one that had yet to be filed, the AJC has learned.

A person with direct knowledge of the settlements told the newspaper that the state will pay more than $1.8 million to settle lawsuits filed by former commission deputy director Sherilyn Streicker and former computer specialist John Hair as well as a threatened lawsuit by former commission attorney Elisabeth Murray-Obertein.

Streicker will receive $1 million, while Hair will be paid $410,000. Murray-Obertein settled for $477,500.

The state in May agreed to pay former commission director Stacey Kalberman $1.15 million after a Fulton County jury agreed with her claim that she was forced from office for investigating Gov. Nathan Deal’s 2010 campaign.

The settlement money comes from the state’s self-funded insurance program funded with taxpayer dollars.

After Kalberman and Streicker presented draft subpoenas to commissioners in 2011 for documents related to the investigation, Kalberman was told her salary would be slashed and Streicker’s job eliminated. The subpoenas were never issued and Deal was later cleared of major ethics violations and agreed to pay $3,350 in fees for technical violations in campaign filings.

Hair and Murray-Obertein were hired by Kalberman’s replacement, Holly LaBerge. Hair alleged in his suit that LaBerge ordered him to alter or remove documents from commission files and that he was fired after he refused to do so. Murray-Obertein has said in sworn testimony that LaBerge bragged about her relationship with Deal and that the governor “owed” her for helping scuttle the ethics complaints against him.

LaBerge has said that’s not true and Deal has said he doesn’t know LaBerge and owed her nothing.

Murray-Obertein was fired in January after a Capitol police officer reported that she smelled of alcohol at work.

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