McDuffie County official won't be charged

Limit on business was violated, report says
Paul McCorkle is accused of violating an $800-per-quarter limit.

THOMSON --- McDuffie County commissioners say they do not plan to take action on allegations that a fellow commissioner might have violated a limit on business with the county.


According to a report by WJBF-TV 6, Commissioner Paul McCorkle violated an $800-per-quarter limit by doing more than $27,000 in business with the county between December 2009 and the end of last year.

However, Commission Chairman Charles G. Newton IV said, based on information the board received from County Attorney Sammy Fowler, he believes McCorkle violated no law.

He and another commissioner said they had not heard the $800 figure mentioned until the county attorney's briefing in January.

"It's better not to do (business with the county) at all," Fowler said he told commissioners.

But, he said in a telephone interview Thursday, he told them that if they did, they should be sure to get the commission's approval or stay within the $800 limit. He also said the law allows officials to do business with the county if the commission approves and the cost is as low as or lower than it would be elsewhere.

Asked whether McCorkle had violated the law, Fowler would not comment, noting that the commission asked him to explain only the statutes.

Messages left on McCorkle's home answering machine and at his business, Interstate Equipment Co., were not returned Thursday.

McCorkle is not the only member of the board whose company has violated the limit, another commissioner said.

"The chairman has two companies that have exceeded that amount," said the Rev. Fred Favors, who added that he was unaware of the $800 limit until recently.

Favors said, however, that he is not sure that McCorkle violated the law.

Newton said his family owns McDuffie Feed Seed & Fertilizer, which has done business with the county for years, but that he is not affiliated with the business now.

He works for MFS Grading, which has done business with the city of Thomson, but not with McDuffie County, he said.

Commissioner William Jopling said he also was unaware of the $800 limit and does not recall any mention of the figure in ethics training that commissioners are required to take.

He said that after the January meeting he urged McCorkle not to have further business dealings with the county.

"He hasn't been doing business that I know of since then," Jopling said. "I did not want anybody associated with the board to be in violation of anything. I was in hopes that there was no violation."

District Attorney Dennis Sanders of the Toombs Judicial Circuit was out of the office Thursday, and a telephone message left on his office voice mail was not returned.