Franklin County BOC Calls for Ethics Investigation

A Franklin County Commissioner is calling for an investigation into ethics violations after learning issues discussed behind closed doors in executive session were leaked.

In Georgia, certain matters, such as personnel issues or decisions, real estate, and pending litigation may be discussed in executive session without it becoming public record as in a regular open meeting.

At Tuesday’s work session, commissioner Clint Harper requested the investigation.

 “Executive session is supposed to be a very confidential meeting where sensitive information is discussed,” Harper said. “However, it has been brought forward that people know word for word what has been discussed in our executive sessions. I would like for the Georgia Ethics Commission to conduct an investigation to see why we do not have confidentiality in our executive sessions.”

After a called board of commissioners meeting June 13th one of the commissioners had  reportedly been approached by former County accounts payable clerk Rhonda Grizzle about the board’s choice for county clerk.

Grizzle allegedly repeated word for word what had been discussed that night by the board in executive session concerning their choice to fill that position.

Grizzle had been one of over 40 applicants for the job, but did not get it.  She resigned immediately after that called meeting  on the 13th.

Harper told the board Tuesday he no longer feels comfortable with how executive sessions are conducted.

 “To me there’s no confidence anymore in executive session until something changes,” he said Tuesday.

Commissioner Jeff Jacques said he had no problem with requesting an investigation but asked that the newly formed county ethics board do an internal investigation first.

 “I know over the last couple of years we actually installed an ethics board locally, and that was the purpose and intent of seating that board,” he told the commission.

But Harper said a local board could not do the kind of full investigation that needs to be done.

 “I would not think that we should do that,” Harper said. “To the point, a full investigation needs to be done. I think the Georgia Ethics Commission would be more suitable in getting to the bottom of it. They have more experience and more resources and that’s what I’m calling for is an investigation.”

Commissioner David Strickland suggested that for future meetings, the board have a Sheriff’s deputy stand outside the door to ensure no one is listening.  But Harper said a deputy might not always be available and he asked again for the investigation.

The board plans to vote on the matter at their regular meeting Monday night.