Posted: 3:06 pm Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Ethics agency head critiques Nathan Deal’s overhaul plan 

By Greg Bluestein

The head of Georgia’s embattled ethics commission has a word of caution for Gov. Nathan Deal’s plan to more than double the size of the board.

Holly LaBerge said Wednesday she hasn’t seen Deal’s full proposal but she has “concerns about the size of the board being more people than the agency employs as full-time employees.”

Holly LaBerge, executive secretary of the state ethics commission, testifies in the whistle blower lawsuit brought by Stacey Kalberman, the ethics commission’s former top staffer. Kalberman claimed she was forced from her position after investigating Gov. Nathan Deal's campaign. Brant Sanderlin, bsanderlin@ajc.com

Holly LaBerge, executive secretary of the state ethics commission, testifies in the whistle blower lawsuit brought by Stacey Kalberman, the ethics commission’s former top staffer. Kalberman claimed she was forced from her position after investigating Gov. Nathan Deal’s campaign. Brant Sanderlin, bsanderlin@ajc.com

Deal unveiled a plan this week to replace the five-person commission with 12 members appointed by the judicial, executive and legislative branches. The members would not be allowed to hear any cases involving their branch of government to reduce conflicts of interest. He also pledged to increase funding for the agency, calling an overhaul “overdue.”

It was a surprising turn that came after a jury sided with LaBerge’s predecessor, Stacey Kalberman, over claims she was too vigorously investigating complaints stemming from Deal’s 2010 run. That $700,000 jury award has left a deep imprint on the governor’s race.

The ethics commission only has a handful of employees and no staff attorney with the recent departure of Elisabeth Murray-Obertein. And LaBerge, who is at the center of several pending whistleblower lawsuits, is increasingly in the middle of a campaign fight. Several former staffers accuse LaBerge of bragging of helping Deal make more serious complaints disappear; she and the governor have denied the complaints.

Seeing a potential opening, Democrat Jason Carter, his party’s nominee for governor, held a press conference Tuesday calling on Attorney General Sam Olens and the ethics commission to reopen the probe into the 2010 complaints.

Olens’ office declined to comment and LaBerge said she doesn’t have the authority to reopen a case that commissioners have already voted on. We reached out to each of the commissioners, but have so far only heard back from the newest member.

Lawton Jordan III told us that his read of the law doesn’t give the commission authority to reopen investigations that have been previously resolved. His voice has added significance because he’s the lone Democrat appointee on the five-member panel.

18 comments
Bernie31
Bernie31

Looking at That Photo...I know why this one was chosen for the JOB! The Pearl Necklace...she looks so good in it!  Yeah Boy!

honested
honested

Well, a few things would seem to be obvious.


There is no competent individual in charge of the Ethics Commission with any interest in pursuing ethical government. Correcting that problem should be job one.


That there is no attorney would certainly point to the need to hire an attorney. One with NO CONNECTION WHATSOEVER to either major political party or campaign.


There obviously are an inadequate number of employees in the Ethics Commission. Time for the Legislature to get real and fund the necessary people to ensure ethical, fair and honest governance.

Crooked public officials should bear an increased level of cost for investigations that prove their guilt.



NWGAL
NWGAL

Love his plan to keep government small by taking a five person committee and turning it into a twelve person committee with no support staff. Just add seven high paying jobs which are there in name only.

CuriousPrime
CuriousPrime

Not only is Deal unethical, he is also incompetent.  Add to the list, he has made a mess of workforce development.  He moved the WD agency from the Department of Labor to his office just to give his cronies jobs. Now after a couple of years, he is moving it to another department whose mission has little to do with workforce development. He has wasted money on a failed "Go Build" marketing campaign, has undermined and defunded the WorkReady Skill Proficiency program, and wasted years by not moving forward with the High Demand Career Initiative.



Bernie31
Bernie31

All I am waiting for is the Testimony of the Black Guy who was the Computer specialist who was told to wipe clean a Hard Drive in a Capital office that had the information in question on it. The staffer told him not to worry, she has all of the original DATA on her Home Computer. The problem is when the staffer isquestioned about the data, there was no mention of the home Computer....Imagine that?

I don't know what happened to it....Maybe Nathan ate it! Go ask him where it is...I am just another dumb BECKY being told what to do by the GOOBERS.


Maybe she jest fer gits!


uh...huh.

dreluv
dreluv

Nathan Deal is list the worst governor, I see why because all the corrupted he doing.

Georgia is list worst in job creation, education, healthcare...Nathan Deal don't care about regular Georgian...Everyday people are talking about Nathan Deal is destroying Georgia.

It does not matter if you democrat or republican people are tire of Nathan Deal mess.

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

The operative words of this most recent AJC blog on this subject are: "is increasingly in the middle of a campaign fight" and "Seeing a potential opening, Democrat Jason Carter ...".  The AJC is closely aligned with the Democratic Party and both are attempting to blow this issue out of proportion, but not likely to change the dynamics of Deal's probable re-election.

honested
honested

@Bernie31  

An item common in republican governments and ZZ Top songs.

Charles50
Charles50

@CuriousPrime  I hope you volunteer to work on Jason Carter's campaign.  These are some great points.  

CherokeeCounty
CherokeeCounty

Amen brother -  you could almost overlook his ethical problems if he were halfway competent,

But Georgia lags behind most other states now in just about everything - it's time for some new blood.

Fortunately, in spite of the constant repetition of the lame 'librul' accusations from the right wing noise machine around here, Jason has a decent shot at winning.

CuriousPrime
CuriousPrime

@dreluv  Add to the list a worst job with economic development, infrastructure, and transportation.

honested
honested

@The_Centrist  

Still angry about not getting that oversight job at 'Go Fish'?

Just practice with the hook and minnow until you get your 'master's' license.

Shar1
Shar1

@The_Centrist You may feel that having a corrupt, venal liar as the chief executive officer of this state is unimportant.  There are many Georgians who disagree, Republican and Democrat alike.