Cobb commissioner says he shouldn’t face hearing on secret Braves talks because ethics code is just a suggestion

Cobb County Commission chair Tim Lee, who has already established his credentials in the field of creative excusery by hiring a lawyer to negotiate an Atlanta Braves stadium deal without telling his fellow commission members, claiming he did no such thing, then being exposed as having send emails from a separate email account to hire the stadium negotiator to avoid getting caught, now says he shouldn’t have to face ethics charges for these shenanigans because — I swear I am not making this up — the county ethics code doesn’t actually require elected officials to avoid improper behavior:

The portion of the ethics code in question states government officials “by their conduct should avoid the appearance of impropriety.”

Cole argues the use of the word “should,” as opposed to “shall” or “must,” means the portion of the code is not a mandatory standard of conduct, but rather an “advisory statement.”

Cobb Board of Education chair Kathleen Angelucci responded to this in the only way possible: “It depends on what your definition of ‘is’ is.” Craig Calcaterra, the former Ohio lawyer who now writes for NBC Sports, chimed in that “if I had made such an argument in front of [the Ohio Ethics Commission] they would’ve laughed my butt out of the building.”
The poor Cobb Board of Ethics now needs to decide whether to move ahead with planned hearings to investigate Lee’s actions, or agree not to even talk about them, because, you know, the ethics code doesn’t say that officials have to avoid the appearance of impropriety if they really, really don’t want to. One can only hope that someone will now file an ethics board complaint against Lee for this latest action, though something tells me the crafters of the ethics code didn’t have enough foresight to make abuse of the English language a punishable offense.
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2 comments on “Cobb commissioner says he shouldn’t face hearing on secret Braves talks because ethics code is just a suggestion

  1. I wish I could say this is surprising. Politicians (and in many cases people in general) everywhere seem to believe they are above the law (or even ‘guidelines’) and can do as they please. No amount of sleaze, personal enrichment or just influence peddling is too much if it is to their gain.

    Lee should be removed from his position (appointment? Or was he actually elected) immediately and prosecuted.

    If there is any good news here it’s fairly meagre… just more evidence that the human race itself appears doomed. What does it say about our society and education systems that we not only build people like this, we put them in office?

  2. And here’s the latest… At the October hearing, one of the ethics board members – Angeline Mathis – questioned Tim Lee’s attorney rather bluntly and was one of five (out of six) board members to vote in favor of allowing the ethics complaint to proceed. Since that hearing, Mr. Lee apparently has switched to a different attorney within the same firm – and his new attorney just *happens* to be Ms. Mathis’s ex-husband. So Mr. Lee’s new attorney, Ben Mathis, has filed a motion to have his ex-wife (also an attorney herself) recused due to the potential conflict. A conflict created after the fact by Mr. Lee’s decision to have a board member’s ex-husband represent him following the initial hearing at which she apparently wasn’t buying any of Mr. Lee’s b.s. This guy is a piece of work. Good thing the county is only paying Mr. Mathis $145/hr. to defend Mr. Lee. A “substantial discount”, as Mr. Mathis was quick to point out in the AJC. What a deal for us taxpayers!

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