Cobb County chair won’t face ethics charges over secret Braves deal, because that’s not the ethics board’s table

I am so, so, so sorry: I failed to keep you guys updated on the outcome of the ethics investigation into Cobb County Commission chair Tim Lee, who secretly hired a lawyer to negotiate an Atlanta Braves stadium deal without even telling his fellow commission members and then lied about having done so, then got brought up before the county ethics board on ethics charges, then claimed he couldn’t be charged because county ethics rules aren’t really rules so much as suggestions. Last Thursday, the ethics board handed down its ruling:

The ethics case against Cobb County Chairman Tim Lee has been dismissed.

Sorry, what?

Thursday evening, the Cobb Ethics Board was all set to conduct a long hearing on the charges that Cobb resident Tom Cheeks [sic – it’s actually “Cheek”] brought against Lee. But then, on the advice of the Ethics Board’s attorney — and to Cheeks’ surprise — the board suddenly dismissed two of the charges against Lee.

Then Cheeks himself got up and withdrew the third and final charge. Cheeks said that because Lee had apologized earlier, that was good enough for Cheeks.

Apparently what the board’s attorney, Bob Grayson, advised was that violations of the Open Records Act should be addressed in court, not by the ethics board. Why this advice came at the last minute, and why Cheek then decided to throw in the towel, isn’t exactly clear, nor is who if anyone will now pursue this in court, but apparently now it’s okay in Cobb County to violate the law if you apologize for it later.

Finally, Cheek told the Marietta Daily Journal yesterday that he’s not sorry about filing the ethics complaint, even though it cost the county $10,000 in legal fees (mostly to hire the lawyers who eventually told the board to dismiss the complaint, after 70 hours of work?!), because “Transparent government — you can’t put a price tag on that.” Charges are now expected to be filed against Cheek in the Cobb County Board of Irony.

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