Brown howls about ethics charge

Tue, 10/18/2005 - 4:35pm
By: John Munford

Peachtree City Mayor Steve Brown is complaining that a state ethics complaint against him is trumped up just to get him out of office.

But the group that filed the complaint says Brown himself should have registered as a political action committee when he campaigned against passage of the Fayette County Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax issue last year.

DIRECT PAC, which has clashed with Brown before on issues, points to Brown’s televised appearance on a local Comcast cable channel in which he urged voters to vote against the SPLOST. Because the broadcast and editing services had a monetary value, Brown should have registered as a political action committee and listed the services as donations, DIRECT PAC members have said.

The complaint was filed with the Georgia Ethics Commission. If the complaint is deemed to be within the commission’s jurisdiction, all parties will be notified of a preliminary, informal hearing with the commission. After that, the commission can so one of several things, depending on the circumstances:

• Dismiss the complaint.

• Issue a cease-and-desist order in the case.

• Order a full evidentiary hearing on the matter.

In a press release, Brown said the ethics complaint was a “staged event” by DIRECT PAC timed just for the election. He called the complaint “frivolous.”

The complaint was actually filed earlier this year, said Rex Green of DIRECT PAC. The latest development on the matter was the filing of certain affidavits to go along with the complaint, he said.

“The reason we filed the ethics complaint in the first place is because we felt he was doing something illegal,” Green said. He added that a title on the broadcast identified Brown as “Mayor of Peachtree City,” showing that Brown was acting as a public official and not as a citizen at large.

Brown previously has said he sought the broadcast from Comcast after watching a largely pro-SPLOST forum sponsored by the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce that Comcast also ran on several occasions.

The transportation SPLOST ultimately passed by a slim margin and will provide an estimated $12 million in road improvements to Peachtree City.

DIRECT PAC has not yet chosen any candidates to support in the upcoming election, but the group plans to do so by the end of the month, Green said.

Brown is facing five opponents in his re-election bid: Michael Arterburn, Phil Boswell, Harold Logsdon, Dar Thompson and Dan Tennant.

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