Five ethics board members resign, officials ask for replacement nominations

DeKalb County officials are looking for the next members of the DeKalb County Board of Ethics after the resignation of five members.

The DeKalb County Legislative Delegation Chairs, State Senator Kim Jackson (D, Stone Mountain) and State Representative Karla Drenner (D, Avondale Estates), joined with DeKalb County Clerk of Superior Court Debra DeBerry and DeKalb County Tax Commissioner Irvin Johnson “to issue a call for nominations to the DeKalb Board of Ethics in light of the recent resignations from the board,” stated a news release.

Last month, DeKalb County Board of Ethics Chair Alex Joseph resigned citing “serious concerns about the culture of the board.”

“I made the difficult decision to resign from the DeKalb County Board of Ethics (the board),” said Joseph. “Specifically, I am concerned that the board seems determined to conduct business in closed door meetings. In my opinion, all discussions should take place on the record. The board should be a model of transparent, accessible government.”

More resignations soon followed. The DeKalb County Board of Ethics website now only lists two members and two alternates on a board that should have seven members.

“As representatives of the appointing authorities for the DeKalb Ethics Board, we were disappointed to read recent press coverage about events leading to the resignation of five members of the board,” stated Jackson and Drenner. “Because the board is an independent agency, our only role here is to fill the vacancies. Therefore, we are actively seeking nominations for candidates to fill the five vacant positions. We look forward to filling these positions in an expedient manner and expect all board members to return to their very important work in good faith.”

The DeKalb County Board of Ethics was reconstituted in 2021 after a successful ballot referendum updated the appointment process. The referendum enacted House Bill (HB) 1243, which passed during the 2020 Legislative Session. HB 1243 updated the appointment process for the board, granting appointing authorities to the House and Senate legislative delegations, tax commissioner, and clerk of the superior court, stated officials.

The House and Senate DeKalb County Legislative Delegations will receive nominations via email at appointment.dekalb.ethics@gmail.com.

The chairs of the House and Senate DeKalb County delegations have asked that nominations include a resume and brief statement about the nominee’s interest in the board. At press time, a submission deadline for nominations had not yet been provided.

According to the DeKalb County Board of Ethics website, in 2015 with the passage of HR 597, the first ethics office was established, and a full-time ethics officer was hired.

By law, the board is independent of the DeKalb CEO, county commissioners and any officers or employees of DeKalb County government, states the website.

According to its website, the duties of board members include:
• Providing advisory opinions to all officials and employees who seek advice on ethical issues
• Receiving and hearing complaints regarding ethics violations of employees and officials in DeKalb County
• Investigating matters brought by third parties or an ethics officer regarding potential violations of the ethics code
• Establishing rules regarding matters within its jurisdiction and providing forms for disclosure
For more information, visit https://dekalbcountyethics.org/.

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