McDuffie County official won't be charged

Limit on business was violated, report says

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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.

Paul McCorkle is accused of violating an $800-per-quarter limit.   Special
Paul McCorkle is accused of violating an $800-per-quarter limit.

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.

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LauraE 04/22/11 - 01:35 am
They need to investigate the

They need to investigate the Mayor of Harlem for similar questionable actions. Selling and personally financing his own property to the City of Harlem when he is a sitting mayor is completely unethical.

usklxm72 04/22/11 - 09:00 am
Good example of the

Good example of the unethnical practices. Thomson/McDuffie County unethnical practices on running the government and employment are coming to light as the citizens are becoming better informed of their rights. This is not just a slap on the hand, this is illegal and needs to be further investigated. Perhaps, resignation from the board is in order. The citizens need answers. Lets see what the state officials has to say about this.

iz8787 04/22/11 - 10:01 am
I guess if your last name is

I guess if your last name is McCorkle, you can get away with anything.

augustaneighbor 04/22/11 - 05:37 pm
Any government official doing

Any government official doing business with the agency he or she represents should use extreme caution. Even the appearance of impropriety can produce bad press.

Having said that in the McDuffie County case we also need to consider the fact that even though Mr. McCorkle is a commissioner he does run a business in Thomson that pays taxes and employs a number of people. Also it appears that he is the only business of this type in McDuffie County so he is not competing with another local.

If he does business with the county he should be careful that he is doing so at a competitive price. Also another news agency reported he made almost $30,000 off the county. It is not likely that his profit margin would be 100%.

One of the news organizations should get all the facts and do a follow up report.

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