“Once the Prosecutorial Oversight Committee is appointed in October, we can have them investigate and take action against Fani Willis and her efforts that weaponize the justice system against political opponents,” the Buford Republican said in a social media post.
“This is our best measure,” Dixon added, “and I will be ready to call for that investigation.”
This scenario is what a coalition of opponents, including Willis and Democratic leaders, warned about during debate over the legislation. It passed this year, mostly along party lines, at the urging of Kemp and Republican Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, a Trump supporter whose candidacy last year was backed by the former president.
Kemp and Republican sponsors said it was designed to pursue “rogue prosecutors” who were ignoring their duties or flouting the law, avoiding overt mention of Willis. Even so, Democrats warned it would inevitably be used to target her for investigating Trump.
Among them was state Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick, who cautioned during debate that Republicans could try to use the new law as a “prosecutorial overthrow” bill against Willis. She said Monday that she wasn’t surprised by Dixon’s move.
“The irony, as I see it, is that DA Willis has to do her very best to prosecute those involved in the interference case on Georgia,” Kendrick said. “Otherwise, she may be subject to removal by this commission.”
‘Rogue’ DAs or independent prosecutors?
It’s one of several GOP initiatives that seek to reprimand Willis, who brought charges accusing Trump and his allies of creating a “criminal enterprise” to subvert the 2020 election after an investigation that spanned more than two years.
State Sen. Colton Moore last week issued a call for a special legislative session to probe Willis. The effort is doomed to fail because it needs significant Democratic support, but it gained attention in conservative media outlets.
State Republican leaders said they would block pro-Trump efforts to change the state’s pardon laws to make it easier to exonerate the former president if he’s convicted.
And several GOP legislators are drafting a statement condemning Willis for deploying her office’s investigators in a case against Trump, who has said he’s the victim of a “witch hunt” and peddled derogatory baseless stories about the district attorney.
“Let’s not let off the hook criminals committing serious crimes to pursue political prosecutions to fuel future ambitions,” said GOP state Sen. Jason Anavitarte, who encouraged supporters to file complaints challenging the “egregious” resources Willis deployed to bring charges against Trump.
Willis, who declined to comment through a spokesman, described the bill creating the commission as racist at a state Senate hearing earlier this year. She said it was a GOP response to the 2020 election, when the number of minority district attorneys in the state grew from five to 14.
Georgia already allows legislators to impeach district attorneys, though those powers have rarely been invoked. There are other checks on wayward prosecutors encoded in the law, plus elections and recall provisions that give voters a chance to remove them at the ballot box.
But the commission’s sponsors say existing rules guiding prosecutors don’t have sharp enough teeth, a contention made by nearly two dozen district attorneys from mostly rural parts of Georgia who signed a letter backing the law.
Republican lawmakers often referred to former Paulding County District Attorney Dick Donovan, a Republican who temporarily remained in office while fighting bribery charges, or Athens-Clarke County District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez, a Democrat whom Kemp and his allies routinely paint as inept.
Under the new law, the commission will start receiving complaints in October, though it could take months before it starts to mete out punishments. A five-member panel will investigate the complaints and decide whether to bring formal charges, and a separate three-member panel will issue orders and opinions.
DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston is among a bipartisan group of prosecutors who this month brought a lawsuit challenging the new law, which she said amounts to a power grab that threatens the independence of the judiciary.
She predicted last week that a Trump ally would use the law against Willis to “drag her into a commission to force her to answer questions about a prosecution that she is moving forward with because a crime was potentially committed in her jurisdiction.”
Boston, a Democrat, said she expected more complaints targeting prosecutors for political reasons.
“We can’t do our jobs fairly and impartially,” she said, “if we don’t have discretion or independence.”