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Augusta's law office looking into possible conflict of interest on Hatney's vote on HUD reimbursement

Friday, April 20, 2012 8:31 PM
Last updated Saturday, April 21, 2012 6:22 PM
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The city law office is looking into whether a conflict of interest existed when Augusta Commissioner J.R. Hatney voted Tuesday to repay federal HOME funds spent by a community housing development organization associated with his church.

Hatney  FILE/STAFF
FILE/STAFF
Hatney

The money, about $299,000 of a $344,000 reimbursement demanded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for failure to complete housing projects within a five-year time frame, was allocated to East Augusta Community Develop­­ment Corp. before Hatney’s election to his first commission term in 2005.

HUD regulations prohibit a commissioner from voting on a matter in which he has financial interest, Augusta General Counsel Andrew MacKenzie said.

The law office is exploring the potential conflict as it seeks to recover money from the two organizations associated with the city’s latest HUD refund demand.

Because it involves pending or potential litigation, MacKenzie declined to comment further or more specifically about the case. Hatney did not return a message Friday.

Hatney, the senior pastor of Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church, founded East Augusta CDC in 1999 and remained the chief executive listed on its articles of incorporation filed with the Geor­gia secretary of state’s office through 2007. That year, the group changed CEOs from Hatney to Johnny Hampton, the church’s administrative pastor.

After Hatney’s “yes” vote Tues­day, one of six in favor of reimbursing the federal funds used by East Augusta CDC with money from the city’s general fund, Hatney denied involvement with the organization and said he was “in the clear.”

Authorized under a city contract signed by Hatney before he took office, the money was used to purchase and clear lots in Augusta’s Marion Homes subdivision with the stated intent of creating low- and moderate-income housing, though no housing has resulted.

Before Tuesday’s vote, City Administrator Fred Russell said the economic downturn might have limited East Augusta’s ability to get the work done, while Augusta Housing and Community Develop­ment Assistant Hous­ing Director Hawthorne Welcher cited the lack of adequate water and sewer at the Marion Homes sites.

East Augusta CDC has title to a dozen lots in the riverfront neighborhood obtained with federal money that the city is now expected to reimburse.

Since 1995, the city has authorized payment of more than $900,900 in federal housing money to East Augusta CDC, including $139,891 in operating expenses such as staff salaries, according to a Housing and Community Develop­ment handout from last year.

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JRC2024
9341
Points
JRC2024 04/21/12 - 07:13 am
3
0
East Augusta Housing should

East Augusta Housing should give whatever money it has back and not let it be eaten up with office pay. If Augusta should have to pay any money back it should only be the difference. I can not imagine buying property without checking to see if it has or can have water or sewer. Some people should never be allowed to be developers of property. Ride into Marion Homes, last time I was there it was awful and right next to a public housing project and who would want to live next to that. It is also in a low area that would flood easy.

avidreader
3377
Points
avidreader 04/21/12 - 07:31 am
4
0
Maybe the Commission, and

Maybe the Commission, and Hatney and his associates should contact Charles Walker for some advice. Walker was famous (or infamous) for pulling rabbits out of hats, no matter what the ordeal. And he has lots of time to ponder on the matter. And I agree with JRC -- shut down the entire scam and quit paying "administrative" staff.

Clemintime
195
Points
Clemintime 04/21/12 - 08:27 am
2
0
Chris Thomas (WRDW) suit up.

Chris Thomas (WRDW) suit up.

scott-hudson
10
Points
scott-hudson 04/21/12 - 08:36 am
2
0
Chris is being brought up to

Chris is being brought up to speed on this entire mess....by me.

dichotomy
34496
Points
dichotomy 04/21/12 - 09:01 am
8
0
Of course Hatney's vote was a

Of course Hatney's vote was a conflict of interest. No question about it. And of course this whole thing was a scam operation. Most non-profits and not-for-profits that exist on federal government grant money are scams. It's an industry.

Hatney should be personally liable to repay the money. The vote should be null and void. And, at a minimum, if the city has to repay the money they should seize title to the property and the "non-profit" status of the East Augusta Community Develop­­ment Corp. should be revoked.

raul
5334
Points
raul 04/21/12 - 09:09 am
5
0
Go get 'em Scott, Chris, and

Go get 'em Scott, Chris, and Austin too! Methinks something is rotten and it's not in Denmark.

proud2bamerican
441
Points
proud2bamerican 04/21/12 - 09:25 am
3
0
First of all, put the

First of all, put the property up for sale and use that to start repayment.

c6murphy
0
Points
c6murphy 04/21/12 - 10:11 am
2
0
Typical Augusta, why not just

Typical Augusta, why not just sell the city the air rights?

debbiep38
428
Points
debbiep38 04/21/12 - 10:22 am
0
0
JRC, you rode through Marion
Unpublished

JRC, you rode through Marion Homes? Glad you're O.K.

rwarmy
38
Points
rwarmy 04/21/12 - 10:26 am
4
0
Another sham or scam to get

Another sham or scam to get government and taxpayers money (those of us who pay taxes) by an obvious schyster organization, East Augusta CDC) and its leader, Mr Hatney. All of those involved should be investigated and prosecuted for fraud immediately, especially Mr Hatney.

Riverman1
87151
Points
Riverman1 04/21/12 - 10:28 am
7
0
No doubt this is a scam

No doubt this is a scam worthy of the famous sidewalk contract, but we do seem to pick our shots when going after organizations that are supposedly helping the downtrodden while paying hefty executive salaries and actually spending little for the intended purpose.

raul
5334
Points
raul 04/21/12 - 11:41 am
3
0
Here is an excerpt from an AC

Here is an excerpt from an AC article on Tuesday. “I’m in the clear. I know what I’m doing; I’ve been doing this for 20 years,” Hatney said after the meeting. “There’s no conflict of interest because I’m not associated with that organization.”

Dost thou protest too much, Mr. Hatney?
If you are ethical you don't just avoid a conflict of interest. You avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest. Mr. Hatney should have abstained from voting on this issue. Period.

raul
5334
Points
raul 04/21/12 - 11:47 am
2
0
Here is a question for Ms.

Here is a question for Ms. McCord or any reader who may be able to answer this question. Are county commissioners required to provide financial disclosure forms? If so, can they be published as public information?

Clean Water
11
Points
Clean Water 04/21/12 - 11:52 am
3
0
This is sad. There are many

This is sad. There are many Churches in Augusta that are located in the poorest parts of Augusta. Many of these Church people are not part of the communities where the church is located. They get grants and Government programs, but they do not help the poor people that live next to the churches. They help themselves. Most programs daycare and summer programs are too expensive for the people living in these poor communities. They exploit the system the way people exploit the Augusta taxpayers. (The T Center or taking homes from the poor to give to the wealthy.)

double_standard
166
Points
double_standard 04/21/12 - 12:02 pm
2
1
Fingerpointing will get us

Fingerpointing will get us nowhere. The housing and community development blaming chdos. We're up in arms about 300k when the real crooks have gotten off with millions and still scheming. Investigate shady departments like the land bank authority who is the culprit of this mess. The downtown development authority that scphines millions on an annual basis. I wonder why the chdo directors and hatney only spoke with the other newspapers.

redoutlook12
0
Points
redoutlook12 04/21/12 - 12:49 pm
3
1
This is as good as Willie

This is as good as Willie Saunders' conflict with himself over tax liens and bankruptcy. How a judge can judge and be in default on loans and taxes seems like politics as usual. When will we ever wake up?

allhans
24049
Points
allhans 04/21/12 - 03:37 pm
2
0
One would think that even a

One would think that even a crook would be looking out for his own.
Such selfishness...such greed.. and at the expense of the needy.

Iwannakno
1533
Points
Iwannakno 04/21/12 - 05:12 pm
1
0
Same stuff...different
Unpublished

Same stuff...different politician. I am never surprised when Augusta politicians are named in fraudulent issues. Much ado about nothing. It's so commonplace it's acceptable. The voters don't care they just keep voting them in anyways. Even though they raise your property taxes 200% and force a garbage tax on SOME of the residents. It's pathetic...

FLIPPED OUT
33
Points
FLIPPED OUT 04/21/12 - 05:21 pm
1
0
Hatney looks like he just

Hatney looks like he just soiled his Sunday best

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 04/21/12 - 05:21 pm
0
0
Is there a conflict of

Is there a conflict of interest in the law department investigating a county commissioner?

Wouldn't it always be in the law department's best interest to clear commissioners of any wrongdoing because employees serve at the pleasure of the commission?

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 04/21/12 - 06:20 pm
0
0
Say it ain't so. Not a black
Unpublished

Say it ain't so. Not a black reverend.

Little Lamb
47039
Points
Little Lamb 04/23/12 - 08:11 am
0
0
Bring in the GBI to

Bring in the GBI to investigate. They did such a good job in Hancock County.

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