Kemp raises concerns about ‘deeply troubling’ claims against Willis

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (L) and Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. AJC file photos.

Credit: AJC file

Credit: AJC file

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (L) and Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. AJC file photos.

Gov. Brian Kemp said the allegations that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis engaged in misconduct with the special prosecutor she hired to help handle the election-interference trial against former President Donald Trump were “deeply troubling.”

The governor joined a chorus of other Republicans who raised concerns about the district attorney after one of the defendants accused her of an “improper” relationship with Nathan Wade in attempt to disqualify her from the case.

Kemp’s remarks Friday come months after he sought to put an end to a far-right push to use state powers to sanction Willis, saying at the time he hasn’t seen evidence she violated her oath of office as he declared “we will not be engaging in political theater.”

But the explosive motion filed this week by attorneys representing Michael Roman has led Kemp and other more mainstream Republicans to criticize the DA, who hasn’t responded to the allegations.

“These allegations are deeply troubling and evidence should be presented quickly in order for Judge McAfee to rule and the public to have confidence in this trial moving forward,” said Kemp, who is expected to be a star witness in the trial.

A Willis spokesman has said the office will address the claims in an upcoming court filing. Judge Scott McAfee said Friday he will schedule a hearing in the weeks ahead to delve into the motion – but not until prosecutors respond in writing to the filing.

House Speaker Jon Burns also sharpened his tone after the court motion, which provided no proof about the relationship or other claims it surfaced.

Like Kemp, Burns said in August that a new state law to punish “rogue” prosecutors shouldn’t be used to target Willis. He told the Politically Georgia podcast this week, days after Roman’s motion emerged, that the oversight board created under the law should settle the issue.

“If they decide to make that decision,’ Burns said, “that’s fine with me.”

At least one complaint against Willis is already pending under the law, which empowers a state panel to investigate, sanction and oust prosecutors found to have violated their oath of office.

It was filed last year by Georgia Senate GOP leaders who said Willis “improperly cherry-picked cases to further her personal political agenda” and asked the Prosecuting Attorneys Qualification Commission to take “appropriate measures” to sanction her.

A Georgia Supreme Court opinion last year put the commission on hold pending a change in how its rules and regulations are approved. Lawmakers are expected to quickly resolve the legal issue this month.

State Sen. Clint Dixon, among the Republicans who filed the complaint, said he wants the commission to “investigate and take action” against Willis once it’s reauthorized. And he warned the GOP-controlled Senate could take other unspecified steps to reprimand Willis.

“We are considering all options to hold Fani Willis accountable,” he said.