AG Olens declines Carter's request for new probe of Gov. Deal's 2010 ethics complaints

ATLANTA — Attorney General Sam Olens on Friday declined a request by state Sen. Jason Carter to appoint an independent investigator to review the handling of ethics complaints against Gov. Nathan Deal, noting in a letter that his office has “no interest in being used for political purposes.”

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Olens  David Goldman
David Goldman

The back-and-forth stems from a series of ethics complaints filed against Deal, a Republican up for re-election this year, concerning his 2010 campaign finance reports and personal financial disclosures. Those complaints have been at the center of three lawsuits filed in recent years against the state ethics commission by former employees who claim retaliation for work on the Deal investigation.

Carter, a Democrat challenging Deal in November, had made the request to Olens in a letter earlier this week, arguing there was “ample evidence that this investigation was never completed and instead was the subject of serious tampering.”

Olens, a Republican also up for re-election this year, wrote in a response to Carter that he did not have the authority to appoint an independent investigator and would not want to interfere with at least two related investigations. He referenced an ongoing probe of the commission by the state auditor as well as federal grand jury subpoenas issued late last year to five former and current commission employees.

The state has the power to hire outside lawyers known as special assistant attorney generals, but Olens argued they would still report to him and not be considered independent.

Carter’s campaign spokesman Bryan Thomas said Carter was disappointed with Olens’ decision.

“It is crystal clear that the attorney general has the power to conduct an independent investigation, particularly when he is supposed to act independently from the governor’s office,” Thomas said.

The commission earlier this month announced plans to settle with three former employees after a civil jury in April sided with the commission’s former executive secretary who claimed her salary was cut and her deputy’s position eliminated as the two were preparing to issue subpoenas in the Deal case.

Those subpoenas were never issued. Commissioners have said they received the information needed to resolve the complaints without subpoenas. In the end, Deal agreed to pay $3,350 in administrative fees to settle the complaints and was cleared by the commission of major violations.

Meanwhile, it remains unclear whether federal investigators remain interested in the commission and its handling of the Deal complaints. Late last year, federal prosecutors issued subpoenas for commission documents related to the Deal complaints but officials with the U.S. Attorney’s Office have continued to decline to comment.

Deal’s spokeswoman Jen Talaber has said Carter was “playing politics” with his request. Deal has denied any wrongdoing, saying he was not involved in commission business and his ethics case was resolved after an exhaustive investigation.

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dsterling9 06/28/14 - 09:13 am

Mr. Carter is a danger to the citizens of Georgia and should leave politics all together!

Little Old Lady
Little Old Lady 06/28/14 - 09:17 am

Like Grandfather, like Grandson.

babyboy 06/28/14 - 09:29 am
Tell me something the Georgia

Tell me something the Georgia voters don't know. It's obvious that a Republican not going to investigate another Republican. Attorney General Sam Olens and Gov. Deal rode the Tea Party wave in 2010 and now it's time show them two cronies the exit in November.

Sweet son
Sweet son 06/28/14 - 11:37 am
Mr. Olens will get my vote. I realized right away that Carter's

request was nothing more than a political dirty trick and I do mean dirty. Carter should also be proud that Jimmy is staying out of the mix because anything he has been involved in is yellow.

my.voice 06/28/14 - 12:00 pm
Y'all got any peanuts?

Y'all got any peanuts?

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