Posted: 6:00 am Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Another lawsuit from ex-ethics staffer is in the works 

By Greg Bluestein

Another former Georgia ethics staffer sends word she is planning a lawsuit against the ethics commission.

Former staffer Elisabeth Murray-Obertein plans to file her own lawsuit against the agency, according to her attorney, Cheryl Legare. The news comes days after a jury sided with Stacey Kalberman, the commission’s former director, in a lawsuit claiming she was forced out for too aggressively investigating a complaint stemming from Gov. Nathan Deal’s 2010 campaign.

It would be the fourth whistle-blower case filed against the embattled agency, and an unwelcome development for a governor facing re-election against opponents who have taken up ethics as a mantra. Deal on Monday abandoned his attempts to distance himself from the agency and instead called for a “comprehensive” overhaul.

Former staffers Sherilyn Streicker and John Hair have filed similar lawsuits that are now winding their way through the courts. Neither is on the trial calendar yet, though, and they may not make it that far. As noted earlier, several jurors polled after the Kalberman case openly questioned why state attorneys didn’t settle before bringing to trial.

Murray-Obertein’s case could prove more complicated than some of the others.

She was the commission’s top lawyer and, in sworn testimony, accused director Holly LaBerge of bragging that Deal “owes” for making the most serious complaints against him go away. (Deal and LaBerge have denied involvement.) She was also fired in January, shortly after a police officer said she appeared intoxicated at work.

41 comments
partlycloudy
partlycloudy

You know, this is one of the few times I do not mind the state and it's officials having to pay out money.  These women all deserve to be compensated for the white male crooked politicians treating them like crap.  Women in govt do not get the perk jobs, and are fired if they tell the truth or, God forbid, don't sleep with the right angry old white male politicians.

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

What did you expect when a broke damn near bankrupt governor was elected?  Seriously, the man could not handle his own check book so why would you trust him with the states and lots of money from a campaign. 

mrob
mrob

It's best that Deal go manage the Georgia Dome than the Gold Dome. Oh!, That's not a good ideal either because he need to leave public office, for good.

Deal, Just leave the trash that you created behind, and as you leave, we will vote someone to clean it up.


"Red states are dangerous states with lawmakers equally dangerous to enact dangerous laws to drive home a point to exhibit conservatism'---mrob


findog
findog

There is a precedent in Georgia for voting out the ethically challenged

Remember Senator Tallmadge and his cash stocked trench coat in the hall closet?

Joeleejohnson
Joeleejohnson

"Bread of deceit is sweet, but soon turns to gravel in the mouth."

Sunday School more often, and maybe the quote would be correct.

pompano
pompano

We need some Democrats to cross-over in the Primary to help knock this guy out of office.  This is one area where supporters of both parties need to work together and help remove this corrupt leader for the good of our State.


After the Primary - we can go back to bashing each other for the General Election.

dreluv
dreluv

Why did not in jail with all the corruption he involve..No wonder Georgia rank 50 in everything because of Nathan Deal and his republican friends..It time for Georgia to move forward and vote all these corrupt people out of office..Nathan Deal need to be voted out.

EdUktr
EdUktr

Could the Ethics kerfuffle turn out to be Gov. Deal's Benghazi? Or his IRS Tea Party Harassment Scandal? You know—an issue the "non-partisan" AJC really sinks its teeth into as above?

Okay, I'm being sarcastic. 

Iluvnutella
Iluvnutella

As a Republican, it concerns me that this guy's cronies think a move like the one they pulled on Kalberman would fly. Its sad b/c the last thing Ga needs is to follow the lead of the communists @ the White House and turn Ga into another handmedat state.

SouthGeorgiareader
SouthGeorgiareader

Hope these lawsuits will bring some confession and humility to Deal and his minions.  With the precedent of Kalberman's win against them, they need to do some fast settlements to avoid months of public trials.  Deal and his folks made serious errors in judgment when they decided to go to trial---shows you what power and detachment from the real world will do to you.  Of course, even settlements without trials will still do damage, but not like trial testimony will.

honested
honested

One would assume this suit might also involve the Governor's attorney since he appears to be neck deep in interfering with the Ethics Department.

Do these guys even care about running the State or is it all about padding the pocket?

Bill72
Bill72

I'd like to think that Crooked Deal will lose in November but as long as sheeples continue to vote R regardless of the candidate then I doubt it will happen.  It continues to amaze me that the common Joe thinks the policies of the Republican Party somehow benefits them.  Sad to say but race plays such a large role in that thinking. 

Alberta
Alberta

Idiot Georgians don't care about their elected officials' ethics as long as they toe the ultra-conservative line.  

But Gawd how they care about their Dawgs!

CherokeeCounty
CherokeeCounty

The Dems lost in 2004 in part because they had become arrogant, corrupt, and convinced that their own election wins were inevitable.

I see that same ignorance of the real world in today's Republicans and their supporters here.

NWGAL
NWGAL

Let's keep those lawsuits coming!

Numbers_R_Us
Numbers_R_Us

Deal deserves to suffer the fate that he would have the poorest and sickest in Georgia be left to deal with on their own.

Andy123
Andy123

I don't even like the guy, but Deal isn't going anywhere. 

Ralph-43
Ralph-43

It does not look like Deal will have time to be Governor anymore - multiple lawsuits, Medicaid Expansion protestors blocking the exit from his Buckhead estate, testifying against elected officials for trying to speak to him at the capitol, all those dead uninsured Georgians piling up around the capitol, and "guns everywhere" - plus Jan Jones running around with his cohones.  This guy is in real trouble.  Better head for a Florida vacation. 

honested
honested

@pompano  

While we're at it, putting the correct republican on the Senate ballot would be helpful.

memsmovement
memsmovement

@EdUktr  So your opinion is that the AJC should give the same level of coverage to a national story regarding Obama as they do to a local story regarding Deal?

The AJC is not a national newspaper. The national newspapers are USA Today, WSJ, New  York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and the Miami Herald. The AJC has to cover local issues primarily. Its coverage of national issues will generally be stories picked up from Reuters, AP and other national services. 


Sorry, but the idea that covering Deal's misdeeds is illegitimate unless it covers Obama's is false. And please keep in mind that it was the AJC that uncovered the Atlanta school board problems and the Bill Campbell administration problems.

honested
honested

@EdUktr  

No this wasn't invented and inflated by FauxNooz, this is just standard Georgia republican crookedness at work.

CuriousPrime
CuriousPrime

@Iluvnutella  Nathan Deal and his cronies took their "moves" to DC, the GOP leadership let it fester, meanwhile back here in Georgia Sonny Perdue was taking the lack of ethics to another art form.  Seeing the hanwriting on the wall, Deal slinked his way back to Georgia knowning that here, intergity and character are nothing more than slogans.  If this were not true, he would have never been elected governor.


The last thing Georgia needs is to continue to follow the lead of the Dixiecrats at the Golden Dome, and who pretend that Georgia isn't highly dependent on the federal government.

memsmovement
memsmovement

@Iluvnutella


As an independent who actually does want Deal to win re-election, I wonder why Deal didn't have his floor leader submit his excellent ethics reform package during the last legislative session?

Incidentally, Deal CAN call a special session. It is rarely done in this state (it is done far more often in other states like Texas and Florida, though in fairness the Texas legislature only meets biannually, meaning that the state is for the most part run by the executive branch in general and the lieutenant governor and Texas railroad commissioner specifically) but now is a great time to do it. Best of all, the governor can set the agenda to minimize the chances of getting embarrassed.


So Deal can call a special session that will deal only with:

1. the cityhood bills in DeKalb (Tucker, Lakeside, Briarcliff) and south Fulton

2. the ethics legislation

3. transportation (since almost nothing but a partial slate of MARTA bills passed in the last session)

4. medical marijuana for epilepsy/autism insurance bills

5. education (the charter school bill that needs to pass)

6. tax reform


If 5. and 6. are too controversial for an election year, they can be left off. Deal can call the special election after the primary runoff, which is basically the election for 90% of the state legislature. Best of all, doing it would keep Carter off the campaign/fundraising trail while the session is in progress.


I think that Deal is too risk-averse to try something like this, but it really does need to get done for political and policy reasons. The governor has left too many issues that anger his own base, inflame Democrats, and alienate independents hanging.

memsmovement
memsmovement

@Bill72  

You are right. 95% of blacks vote Democrat regardless of the ethics or qualifications of the person running. Oh wait, you were talking about whites ... sorry.

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

@Alberta Only the football team...the other athletes not so much! But they can justify breaking rules, no matter what the charge!

Andy123
Andy123

@Alberta

Primarily uneducated people who didn't even attend UGA care about Gawga Football.   

Andy123
Andy123

@Numbers_R_Us

Why?  He has money and can afford his own insurance.  Just like those of us in life who are self supportive and pay their share of the taxes can afford their own medical insurance.   


You're free to give every extra penny you have to a local clinic to help the poor if you feel so strongly about printing federal money for Medicare purposes.  The funny thing is, you won't and you don't. 

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

I think the word is "slunk" rhymes with skunk

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

You want him to waste MORE money? NO!

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

@memsmovement @IluvnutellaSo, The cost conscious repubs want a special session?How much more will that cost the taxpayer, that is, after the more than $1 Million Deal caused the state to have to pay for the first settlement for damages and lawyer fees?

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

@memsmovement @Bill72Next you'll complain that ethnic folks (Asian and Hispanics) also vote primarily for Dems. Now what has the Cons done for them?

NOlongerRepublican
NOlongerRepublican

@memsmovement @Bill72  And just about that same percentage of whites in Georgia will vote with the Republicans no matter what because there is a black Democrat in the White House and a black mayor of Atlanta... After all...the Republicans do things for the white folk and the Democrats do things for the black folk...If you think otherwise you need to recheck!

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