Originally created 08/04/98

The GBI was used 080498 - The Augusta Chronicle



Sunday's news story exonerating state Rep. Robin Williams, R-Augusta, from ugly accusations of wrongdoing in helping to build a neighborhood park in Harrisburg is also good news for businessman Bill Howard. Howard is Williams' friend, but is also a respected citizen who simply sold the city property at a fair price for a project pushed by then-Mayor Charles DeVaney.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation head Buddy Nix and state Sen. Don Cheeks, D-Augusta -- an on-again, off-again Williams nemesis -- have egg all over their faces.

It's clear the GBI was used by Cheeks in a political vendetta, as revealed in a GBI document found by The Chronicle. In 1996 the Democratic lawmaker maliciously passed along rumors to gullible GBI agents, who wasted untold manhours and thousands of dollars of taxpayers' money looking at Williams' and Howard's open records. After a preliminary records check, the GBI should have publicly cleared the two men two years ago.

In fact, it was in 1996 when then-Attorney General Mike Bowers chided the GBI for listening too much to politically-motivated accusations. Little did we know, until now, how close to Augusta this hit!

Among those owing an apology to the west Augusta legislator and Howard is Tracy Beckham Meehan, the GOP challenger who Williams defeated in the July 21 primary. Mrs. Meehan shamelessly spread vicious lies about Williams and the Harrisburg "scandal" in campaign literature. Her resounding defeat is testament to the fact that most voters didn't buy the smear.