A chill of malfeasance

Columbia County tax commissioner should step down

Kay Allen has not been found guilty of any wrongdoing. And she denies, through her attorney, that she has violated any law.

That being said, the embattled Columbia County tax commissioner – who stands accused of failing to remit more than $160,000 in municipal tax collections to the county since 2009 – needs to step down immediately.

Too many red flags have come to light since becoming the subject of a joint investigation by the FBI and Columbia County Sheriff’s Office in October. Just this week, a 2009 audit report revealed county leaders had to threaten Allen with administrative action from the governor before she would agree to turn over $203,000 in car tag payments to the county.

“She just kept saying it was her money, it belonged to her department and she had plans for it,” Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross said this week. “I said, ‘Kay, we either got to get that money back today or I will have to call the governor.’”

A separate audit has confirmed that $57,500 of the $160,000 in fees her office collected from Grovetown and Harlem since 2009 went into her pocket, despite a 2007 change in state law that required such payments go directly to county coffers.

Allen, through her attorney, said she was unaware of the change in state law. However, Georgia Department of Revenue documents show Allen attended a training session in Athens in 2007 that covered the changes.

Clearly, something is not right here.

Allen has made no statements on the investigation, but her actions convey the imperiousness and arrogance of an elected official who has been in office so long that she has forgotten to whom she is accountable.

Based on the facts thus far, Allen has three possible explanations for her actions.

• She does not know what she is doing; any mistakes made were unintentional and because of incompetence.

• She knows her job so well that she can exploit loopholes in the system to enrich herself and her office budget.

• She believes her actions, regardless of her intention, are neither unethical nor criminal.

Regardless of which scenario will best describe Allen’s full, yet-to-be-given explanation, the conclusion is the same: She needs to resign, and she needs to resign now.

If not, Gov. Nathan Deal needs to immediately put her on administrative leave, preferably without pay. Citizens even could mount a recall campaign.

Sunshine is needed to disinfect this matter. As long as Allen is in office, a chill of malfeasance will hang over it.

Allen seeks deal as commission considers action
Tax commissioner had previous issues remitting fees, says commission chairman

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Rick McKee Editorial Cartoon