Man who accused Gov. Deal won't pay attorney fees - New York News

FOX 5 I-Team investigates

Man who accused Gov. Deal won't pay attorney fees

ATLANTA -

It was called a historic ethics hearing. Governor Nathan Deal became Georgia's first public official to seek legal fees from a citizen who filed an ethics complaint against him. The Governor's action ignited a heated debate and an apology before the state ethics commission.

The request for legal fees was aimed at longtime government watchdog George Anderson, a man known for filing hundreds of often harshly-worded ethics complaints.
    
On Friday, an emotional George Anderson told the state ethics commission that his complaints against Gov. Deal, though strongly worded, had merit and he shouldn't be forced to pay legal fees.

"No citizen in this state can afford attorney's fees," Anderson said.

Deal is the first state official to use a new law that allows public officials to seek legal fees if a citizen files a frivolous ethics complaint.

The hotly debated issue drew a number of good government advocates, like William Perry of Common Cause, who said the request for legal fees would have a chilling effect on public policy.

"It could scare the life out of folks who are thinking they would receive the same result if they brought forth a legitimate complaint," Perry said.

But Governor Deal's attorney Randy Evans argued it wasn't really about the money; it was more about what he calls false, malicious, and libelous language used by Anderson.

"What we seek are just two things: an apology and one half-hour of my time. That's it. This isn't about money," said Evans.

Anderson did apologize -- several times -- but insisted his complaints were legitimate.  

One of Anderson's complaints -- dismissed by the ethics commission -- alleged Gov. Deal funneled campaign money to his daughter-in-law's company.  The Governor said they were legitimate fundraising expenses.

Those payments to Denise Deal's company for campaign fundraising were uncovered by the I-Team earlier this year and led to the outraged Governor refusing FOX 5 reporters access to an important bill signing.

"If it takes the I-Team to uncover a problem like this, that just shows you that these kind of complaints can't be found as frivolous," Perry said.

In the end, the commission voted 3-1 in favor of Mr. Anderson.

"Once he apologized and there was recognition that, in fact, he had crossed a line, I think the commission was satisfied with that," said Evans.

And the government watchdog, who has filed between 200 and 300 complaints during the past 17 years, said no more.

Evans says the commission's decision will mean it's open season on all politicians and their families.

  • I-Team Story ArchiveMore>>

  • Get Financially Fit: A Step-By-Step Plan

    Get Financially Fit: A Step-By-Step Plan

    Monday, April 14 2014 9:15 AM EDT2014-04-14 13:15:13 GMT
    April is Financial Literacy Month, so it's time to think about getting financially fit.  Let's start with two questions. Do you know how much you spend each month?  How much of your check should you save?
    April is Financial Literacy Month, so it's time to think about getting financially fit.  Let's start with two questions:  Do you know how much you spend each month?  How much of your check should you save?
  • FOX 5 I-Team

    DON'T MISS: Tax Deductions and Credits

    DON'T MISS: Tax Deductions and Credits

    Friday, April 11 2014 8:48 AM EDT2014-04-11 12:48:55 GMT
    Let's finish up our tax time filing tips that we've offered this season with a quick look at deductions and credits too many folks forget.
    Let's finish up our tax time filing tips that we've offered this season with a quick look at deductions and credits too many folks forget.
  • FOX 5 I-Team

    IRS: Two Scam Warnings

    IRS: Two Scam Warnings

    Monday, April 7 2014 10:44 AM EDT2014-04-07 14:44:51 GMT
    We have two warnings coming from the IRS.  The first one is what investigators call the "largest ever" phone fraud scam targeting taxpayers.
    We have two warnings coming from the IRS.  The first one is what investigators call the "largest ever" phone fraud scam targeting taxpayers.
  • Contact the FOX 5 I-Team

    * denotes required fields

    We're sorry, but only one entry is allowed per person.
    Thank you for your continued interest.

    Thanks for contacting FOX 5.  To reach our newsroom by phone, please call (404) 898-0100.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Record stores survive and thrive in Brooklyn

    Record stores survive and thrive in Brooklyn

    Friday, April 18 2014 10:59 PM EDT2014-04-19 02:59:51 GMT
    When you hear about a place that still sells records, located in a hip neighborhood in the borough of Brooklyn, you enter that store with certain expectations. One of them being: you hope the guy behind the counter talks about music the way Cory Fierman does."I think it's just like the most important thing to you," he says. "I don't know how to describe it. It's the most important thing to me. It's like another language."Cory manages Greenpoint's Academy Records Annex, where they want you ...
    When you hear about a place that still sells records, located in a hip neighborhood in the borough of Brooklyn, you enter that store with certain expectations. One of them being: you hope the guy behind the counter talks about music the way Cory Fierman does."I think it's just like the most important thing to you," he says. "I don't know how to describe it. It's the most important thing to me. It's like another language."Cory manages Greenpoint's Academy Records Annex, where they want you ...
  • Queens Beer Week kicks off

    Queens Beer Week kicks off

    Friday, April 18 2014 10:19 PM EDT2014-04-19 02:19:20 GMT
    Queens wants to be known as New York City's beer capital. Queens Beer Week kicked off on Friday to celebrate the borough's crafty breweries and the more than 60 venues that serve their beer. Dan Bronson of Crescent and Vine in Astoria is the bearded brains behind the inaugural Queens Beer Week. He organized it all. The nine-day celebration of beers brewed in Queens.
    Queens wants to be known as New York City's beer capital. Queens Beer Week kicked off on Friday to celebrate the borough's crafty breweries and the more than 60 venues that serve their beer. Dan Bronson of Crescent and Vine in Astoria is the bearded brains behind the inaugural Queens Beer Week. He organized it all. The nine-day celebration of beers brewed in Queens.
  • Woman wanted for baby snatch attempt in custody

    Woman wanted for baby snatch attempt in custody

    Friday, April 18 2014 9:57 PM EDT2014-04-19 01:57:17 GMT
    Police have taken into custody the woman believed to have tried to push a stroller with a baby inside away from a nanny in Chelsea. Tara Anne McDonald, 46, was being evaluated at a hospital Friday night. The attempted kidnapping occurred on 8th Ave. and 17th St. at about 3:45 p.m. on Thursday, police said.
    Police have taken into custody the woman believed to have tried to push a stroller with a baby inside away from a nanny in Chelsea. Tara Anne McDonald, 46, was being evaluated at a hospital Friday night. The attempted kidnapping occurred on 8th Ave. and 17th St. at about 3:45 p.m. on Thursday, police said.
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices