Three weeks later, no ethics investigation yet

Name of Publication: 
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Excerpt of Article: 

Updated: 6:07 p.m. Monday, Oct. 21, 2013  |  Posted: 5:06 p.m. Monday, Oct. 21, 2013 

By Aaron Gould Sheinin  

Three weeks after the state ethics commission voted to ask for a special investigation of problems at the agency, no investigator has been appointed because none has officially been requested.

The commission voted Sept. 30 to request what’s known as a special assistant attorney general — typically a private lawyer temporarily given state investigative powers — to conduct an independent probe of the agency. But before Attorney General Sam Olens can do so, the commission must make a formal request. That hasn’t happened, Olens’ office confirmed Monday. 

Why not? Good question, say ethics observers who are concerned that the commission’s deliberate pace raises doubts about its commitment to finding the truth. 

The commission is vetting candidates to investigate the agency and is also “reviewing and determining the scope and nature of the investigation,” commission vice chairwoman Hillary S. Stringfellow said in a statement.

“Numerous candidates have been and continue to be reviewed and considered to serve in this role,” the statement said. “At such time as the commission has reached a final decision, such decision will be announced.”

Days after the Sept. 30 meeting, commission Chairman Kevin Abernethy told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the board was “still working through the precise parameters” of the investigation. ...

....                     ...Kerwin Swint, the interim chairman of the department of political science and international affairs at Kennesaw State University, said the commission’s window is closing.

“We’re almost into an election year,” said Swint, a member of the Common Cause Georgia board and a former GOP activist. “I can understand three weeks, but if you give it a month and there’s been no major efforts, I would say time’s up or it’s time for some action.”