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Kay Allen's lawyer defends her actions in letter to Gov. Nathan Deal

Friday, Jan. 17, 2014 11:28 PM
Last updated Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 10:49 AM
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Columbia County Tax Commiss­ioner Kay Allen’s $160,000 in extra compensation from Grovetown and Har­lem was not a violation of state law, and even if it was, it would not be cause to remove her from office, according to a letter from her attorney to Gov. Nathan Deal.

Kay Allen will give back the fees she received, the letter states.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN
MICHAEL HOLAHAN
Kay Allen will give back the fees she received, the letter states.


The letter, sent Friday by attorney Douglas Chalmers Jr., argues that the governor has no cause to remove Allen, primarily because she has not violated the state law that applies to such situations.

The letter argues that Allen was unaware of a 2007 change in state law that might have altered her ability to contract with the cities to collect property taxes.

The letter was a response to a Jan. 7 letter from Deal in which referred to accusations of “possible malfeasance” on Allen’s part in regard to her contracts for additional compensation to collect city taxes.

Chalmers’ letter argues that county commissioners failed to make a claim against Allen, which would prompt her removal by the governor.

“In order for this statute to apply, a tax commissioner must ‘fail or refuse to make payment,’ must ‘make a false return,’ or must ‘fail or refuse to file the report as required,’ ” according to the letter.

Chalmers states Allen’s additional compensation does not apply to any of these situations.

“While we deny that Com­missioner Allen collected fees contrary to law, accepting fees contrary to law does not implicate” the statute, Chalmers said.

Allen’s additional fees have been the subject of a joint investigation by the FBI and the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office for several months.

In December, sheriff’s investigators delivered their files to District Attorney Ash­ley Wright.

County commissioners sent a letter to Deal on Dec. 23, seeking his intervention. They contend that Allen’s $160,000 in additional pay for collecting city taxes was contrary to law and without their knowledge.

Wright said Friday that she was still evaluating the case and declined to speculate on what action she might take.

Chalmers’ letter also claims that Allen was unaware that the law that applies to tax commissioners’ compensation had changed in 2007, or that changes in the number of parcels in Columbia County made the new law applicable to her arrangements in 2009.

“The principal issue appears to be, after 2009, whether the County should have had a role in determining the amount of her compensation,” Chalmers wrote.

The letter states that Allen is willing, however, to work with the county commission to address their concerns, and even reimburse the county for fees, should commissioners decide that she was paid too much for her services to the cities.

“Commissioner Allen is hopeful that, if the County Commission addresses this issue with her reasonably and in good faith, an appropriate resolution can be reached,” the letter states.

Legal Response to Governor Deal about Columbia County Tax Commissioner by Connor Threlkeld

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Navy Gary
1615
Points
Navy Gary 01/18/14 - 02:03 am
6
1
Wonder what's really going on here...

There is something really funky about this whole thing to me. My guess is, that if they (the cops or the FBI) had anything to charge the lady with, they would have already done so. Add in the deal with the "whistle-blower" showing up at the tag office yesterday and causing a stink of some sort. Something's funky about this whole thing...funky, funky, funky!

Junket103
452
Points
Junket103 01/18/14 - 05:29 am
7
1
Abolish the Office

Here's a thought, abolish the elected office of Tax Commissioner and have the function assumed by appointment of an administrator. Since the position of Tax Commissioner has an adequate salary, there is NO need for additional personal compensation for additional taxes collected. As to whether or not Ms. Allen knew what she was doing was wrong, I can not say, but her alleged behavior in "collecting" the payments seems to indicate she knew more than she is willing to currently admit.

Ms. Allen should take the honorable step, apologize publicly and then resign. If she continues to fight this based on her lawyers symantecs then Governor Deal please spare the citizens of Columbia County. "Collecting" vs. "Accepting", give us a break.

Riverman1
87007
Points
Riverman1 01/18/14 - 06:24 am
17
1
Sure She Didn't Know...Guffaw, Chortle, Horselaugh

“While we deny that Com¬missioner Allen collected fees contrary to law, accepting fees contrary to law does not implicate” the statute, Chalmers said.”

Heh, heh, heh. Talk about jargon. Sure she didn’t know it was illegal. That’s why she handwrote the bills to the towns and included self-addressed envelopes for payment to be returned only to her hands. She would get the checks made out to Kay Allen Tax Commissioner and forget the part about Tax Commissioner meaning working for the people of Columbia County. I bet she wore a fake mustache and fedora when she deposited the checks into her personal account.

In addition to criminal actions the DA should take against her, the county should institute a civil suit to recover the money she pocketed that the towns thought was going to the county. That money belongs to the people of Columbia County.

Dixieman
15999
Points
Dixieman 01/18/14 - 06:51 am
15
1
"Ignorance of the law is no excuse"...

...last time I looked.
Ever try to get out of a speeding ticket claiming you did not know the speed limit in that area?
What kind of defense is that?

seenitB4
90945
Points
seenitB4 01/18/14 - 08:55 am
6
1
Johns Creek Lawyers

Yep....she has a chance of slipping by on this...

LillyfromtheMills
13977
Points
LillyfromtheMills 01/18/14 - 08:58 am
7
1
Mental illness

The commissioner and deputy! Put those secret envelopes on my desk and deputy report to Kroger. I understand why the lady at the tax office called the police -

itsanotherday1
45467
Points
itsanotherday1 01/18/14 - 09:27 am
7
1
Sounds like another famous liar

"It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is."

townsends
185
Points
townsends 01/18/14 - 09:31 am
14
1
Responsible Agent?

As a serving member on the Board of Directors for the Tax Commissioner’s Technology Development Council of Georgia, the State District 10 Leader for Burke, Columbia, Glascock, Jefferson, Jenkins, Johnson, and Richmond Counties, and a member of the Georgia Association of Tax Officials, what other tax laws is she unaware of and how much is that ignorance costing Columbia and the surrounding counties?

nocnoc
45048
Points
nocnoc 01/18/14 - 09:33 am
10
2
May win on a legal mischarge technically

but will likely will lose the re-election on intelligence and greed issues.

"...Allen was unaware of a 2007 change in state law."

It would seem to me, any law affecting my job as a politician, I would keep up with and understand.

Surely she has had State Position/Role Update Training over the years, and at some time she should have at least stumbled over the law?

It not like we pass laws in GA, in the dead night, in washing dc yes, but not GA yet.

soapy_725
43757
Points
soapy_725 01/18/14 - 09:40 am
0
0
"It depends on what is is............" I never had sex with Ms.
Unpublished

"It depends on what is is............" I never had sex with Ms.

soapy_725
43757
Points
soapy_725 01/18/14 - 09:42 am
0
0
Plausible Deniability. I did know, ergo I am not responsible.
Unpublished

Plausible Deniability. I did know, ergo I am not responsible.

itsanotherday1
45467
Points
itsanotherday1 01/18/14 - 10:00 am
9
1
Law or no law, it is still

Law or no law, it is still patently unethical for a tax commissioner to pocket money that was collected through the labors of county employees. She is a disgrace and needs to GO.

Riverman1
87007
Points
Riverman1 01/18/14 - 10:58 am
6
2
A well known Harvard educated

A well known, Harvard educated, local attorney said, "Ignorance of the law is no excuse."

Little Lamb
46982
Points
Little Lamb 01/18/14 - 11:03 am
3
2
Deal

Austin Rhodes made a point on his radio program yesterday that since Gov. Deal is running for re-election this year, he will not want the distraction of monkeying in county politics, particularly in a county with as many Republican voters as Columbia. Hence, Deal is likely to say he agrees with the legal reasoning of Allen's lawyer and then drop the whole enchilada.

If there is to be any accounting for her misdeeds, the only agency that has a chance of success is the IRS.

Little Lamb
46982
Points
Little Lamb 01/18/14 - 11:07 am
2
2
Fulton County

Didn't we read a story in the Chronicle that the tax commissioner of Fulton County is still pocketing the tax collection fees, and his take makes Allen's look like chump change.

His reasoning is that his contracts to collect city taxes for Atlanta and other Fulton County cities pre-date the 2007 law and those contracts trump the new law.

That's interesting. Are the citizens of Fulton County outraged?

my.voice
4924
Points
my.voice 01/18/14 - 11:09 am
3
1
Ignorance of the law......

Ignorance of the law......

GiantsAllDay
9863
Points
GiantsAllDay 01/18/14 - 11:28 am
5
1
Bottom line: It seems to me

Bottom line: It seems to me that the job of a Georgia County Tax Commissioner is just one big scam. I would like to know the history behind this job.

dizzy dictator
107
Points
dizzy dictator 01/18/14 - 11:56 am
6
1
Don't cave CCC

Would the person you hired to do your taxes, not keep up with the constant yearly changes? Of course they would because it's their passion and their desire to do well for their clients. She's trying to hide behind this change she claims she knew nothing about. Not buying it at all. I would hope that the commissioners won't cave into her last quote, especially when Ashley Wright hasn't finished her case evaluating. Hope she's checking the IRS files as well and other laws that are in place she claims not to know.

lawbookfordummies
27
Points
lawbookfordummies 01/18/14 - 12:06 pm
9
1
Say it enough and people will believe it!

There is no crime in Columbia County, There is no Crime in Columbia County! Classic method for the media and attorneys, and for that matter if you want to further a lie just repeat it again and again, or was that the truth? The truth, yes, just repeat it again and again. Funny, but repetition of anything becomes believable. That is what Allen's reply letter says, like Dorothy in the wizard of oz, there is no place like home, click your heels three times, now. Truth is, this woman and her team of good attorneys are currently trying their case in the media. Looks and sounds fair, but for the rest of us less fortunate we have to go to the courthouse and that my friend is exactly where all of this is headed, courtesy of us, the citizens, also know as the Grand Jury. The issues spelled out in the above letter is not what the DA, US Attorney, FBI or IRS have to say about all of this stealing. Simply put, Allen has a lot more to defend that what you are currently reading.
Her bent of mind goes way back in time and permeates all of her actions in office other than the secret envelopes mark confidential Kay Allen. Can't wait to see the finished product, a long indictment, and lots of similar transactions. And, ignorance of the law is not and will never be a defense. Finally, having a husband on the county commission to bring her home the daily plans of what the county commission is doing is the perfect way to get a head start on criticizing a letter not drafted by an attorney requesting his wife's removal from office by the Governor. Do we live in Allen County or was it Columbia County? Hmm?

GuyGene
1338
Points
GuyGene 01/18/14 - 12:07 pm
6
1
Incompetence...

Yep, incompetency - almost as bad as breaking the law, especially in a leadership role. She, and maybe a couple of commissioners, appear to be incompetent to me. Especially Charles Allen - her husband on the commission and was ignorant of both her getting so much money and the law?

Incompetency.

Graymare
3373
Points
Graymare 01/18/14 - 12:18 pm
7
1
So, she claims ignorance

So, she claims ignorance about a major law being changed which would not allow her to arbitrarily keep $160,000 but she kept track of $55.00 allegedly misplaced by a former employee? Why would the former employee risk his job and pension for $55.00? I guess her husband was ignorant of the law as well. Something stinks bad in Columbia County!

Little Lamb
46982
Points
Little Lamb 01/18/14 - 12:22 pm
3
1
Trial

So the hot-shot Atlanta law firm has written a six-page letter explaining that she didn't break the law, and even if she did break it, she can still keep her job.

If Augusta Circuit district attorney Ashley Wright would indict and prosecute Allen, she would have a 50-50 chance of winning. I think it's worth the chance. If Wright were to lose the case, there's no down side for her. But if she gets a conviction, she would be known as the tough giant-slaying DA. It would send her on her way up the ladder.

LillyfromtheMills
13977
Points
LillyfromtheMills 01/18/14 - 12:24 pm
6
1
I'm going to be a mad hatter

If this woman gets off - she is sick and dishonest and I'm sick of the politics and I'm sick of dishonest people.

Stunned 2
5008
Points
Stunned 2 01/18/14 - 12:39 pm
6
1
Tax Law is complicated and ever changing

Tax Law is complicated and ever changing. Tax Professionals retrain every year - to meet Government requirements for their customers. Sure, there is no telling what political favors are being worked up behind closed doors - but, as a high-ranking Tax Professional, her excuse of 'not knowing the law' is inexcusable. That is what she, and any other Tax Professionals (private & Public), are paid for. - 'For KNOWING the Law', and guiding their customers and in her case, guiding her department's business under guidelines to enforce the Tax Law. For, the average non-politically connected person - It seems that Her Lawyer's letter gave a pathetic defense and was just a waste of paper. What is her educational background? Accountant? CPA?

bright idea
853
Points
bright idea 01/18/14 - 01:20 pm
4
1
It sounds like

Allen thought this was against the law BEFORE 2007 but now she is pleading ignorance. I wonder how much this Atlanta "political attorney" is costing her? Deal will have bought and paid for his reelection long before election day so he ain't worried about what voters in Columbia County think. Only Austin Rhodes thinks Columbia County holds any significance in a statewide election. It's not Ohio in a presidential election.

Sweet son
10741
Points
Sweet son 01/18/14 - 01:48 pm
4
1
She knew how many parcels there were and probably bragged

about how growth in CC was placing more parcels under her watch.

Put her in the same category as Obama and Azziz who both should warn when they are about to speak that a lie is forthcoming.

Interesting to use an Atlanta lawyer, isn't it? Might be one of Deal's contributors.

Truth Matters
7182
Points
Truth Matters 01/18/14 - 04:15 pm
2
2
Regarding the belief that the

Regarding the belief that the governor does not want this hot potato on his hands during an election year plays into the "political game" many think this governor plays. He should do what is right and let the chips fall where they may. And the citizens of Columbia County, many whom never miss an opportunity to lecture Richmond County, should demand it.

applingtaxpayer
29
Points
applingtaxpayer 01/18/14 - 05:36 pm
4
0
One or more of her employees

One or more of her employees brought this to her attention years ago and she is playing dumb? Interview her top employees and find out the truth, governor!

puppydog
228
Points
puppydog 01/18/14 - 10:50 pm
3
0
Fox(es) Guarding the Henhouse...

This is totally astonishing that she is on the road to getting away with this alleged malfeasance of county funds. The fox is definitely guarding the henhouse in all likelihood (in the commission chambers by Commissioner Allen and in the Tax Commissioners Office by Ms Allen). They both have the potential to dispose of records, alter records, enhance records, intimidate other employees who are potential witnesses, etc. They both should have been gone on Day 1.

Little Lamb, you must not have heard all of Austin Rhodes' show that day. He said that 95% of the Columbia County residents wanted Kay Allen AND Charles Allen out of office days ago. He said Gov Deal needs to be cognizant of the fact that Columbia County is watching how he handles this situation.

If KAy Allen wants to plead ignorance (which I have heard all my life- "ignorance is no excuse of the law"- there are plenty of people locked up who plead that), then she is not competent to hold the highest Tax position in the County. Records are reported to show that she was in attendance at the mandatory continuing professional education seminar in which this issue was addressed. It is her duty to be cognizant of the law and to know the current laws. If she is not capable of doing that, she should be removed from office on that alone.

If she wants to feign ignorance, is she, as top County Tax official, also ignorant of the fact that income has to be reported on one's income tax return and income taxes paid on it? Please give me a break! She had gotten away with this likely tax evasion (which many people are locked up for right now), and just conveniently a couple of weeks ago, she and her fox husband are reported to have amended their prior 7 years of income tax returns to include this income since it has now come to light to the public that she pocketed these funds.

Her bullying treatment and firing of Dwight Johnson is another matter. Why doesn't someone in Columbia County have the spine to have done the same to her and her husband? They both should have been demanded to turn their office keys in as soon as this came to light.

This is disturbing on so many levels and the connections she has politically and legally in this community should not overshadow her actions which have been performed in darkness and now brought to daylight.

The officials of Harlem and Grovetown said they were unaware she was pocketing the funds they were sending to the Columbia County Tax Commission.

Even if she can feign ignorance, for which she should be removed for incompetence, she should not be enabled to run roughshod over the whole county and make her own rules and be allowed to show up at the County's office of the people. She has been dishonest at the least and operating illegally in all probability. Someone needs to run roughshod over her like she did to Dwight Johnson.

Where is the DA? The silence is deafening. How many criminals have you locked up who claimed ignorance of the law, which we all know is no vindication from prosecution and has no bearing on bringing charges against someone. I don't even believe ignorance of the laws can be applied here- surely the top Tax official in Columbia County is not THAT unqualified for this position- or if she is, remove her- her removal is justified in either case... in my opinion.

Little Lamb
46982
Points
Little Lamb 01/19/14 - 06:19 am
0
0
Thumbs Up . . .

I agree with you, Puppydog.

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