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Government Watchdog George Anderson Sued by City of Snellville

Anderson originally filed ethics complaints against Mayor Pro Tem Tom Witts.

At the advice of the city attorney, Tony Powell, the City of Snellville has filed a lawsuit against ethics watchdog George Anderson. 

Anderson filed numerous ethics complaints against Mayor Pro Tem Tom Witts earlier this year, alleging that Witts had violated his oath of office when he was sworn in. His violation, according to Anderson, was failing to declare that he owed back taxes. 

When George Anderson heard that the suit had been filed, he responded in a Dec. 4 email by saying the council was "wasting taxpayer funds during a down economy," and that they should be "ashamed." 

Anderson's Ethics in Government group was recently dissolved, with Anderson citing health issues as the reason for his quasi-retirement.  

Powell, along with councilmembers Dave Emanuel and Bobby Howard, believe that Anderson's claims are frivolous. Emanuel stated during an August council meeting that Anderson is using the claim of an ethics violation as a platform for political speech. 

Witts has explained that he does owe the tax, but is paying it back and never hid that fact.

He said in a previous interview with Snellville Patch that he owes for taking a disbursement of 401K funds in 2007 after his wife was laid off. He said the money "I borrowed from myself" helped prevent him from laying off employees and kept his business (Georgia Property Restoration) afloat.

"[Despite Anderson's charges] I'd still make that decision. I'd still do it. I'd still take care of the families [of his employees]. I'd still take care of my family," said Witts, who said he has disclosed his debt in an open city council meeting. "I have nothing to hide."

As such, the council voted during that meeting to file a declatory judgment against Anderson. Council members Dave Emanuel, Bobby Howard, Tom Witts and Diane Krause voted in favor, while Mayor Kelly Kautz and councilman Mike Sabbagh voted against. Kautz does not believe that it is the taxpayer’s responsibility to foot the bill for an ethics investigation against a council member.

Gov. Nathan Deal filed suit against George Anderson back in September, asking that Anderson pay for Deal's attorney's fees brought on by a "unsubstantiated, frivolous" lawsuit, according to legal documents. 

That did not go over in the courts, which did not require Anderson to pay the more than $10,000 legal fees, according to Atlanta Unfiltered. 

More than anything, though, Deal's legal team wanted an apology from Anderson. 

“My language was strong and I sincerely, sincerely apologize,” he told Deal, according to Atlanta Unfiltered. 

Snellville Patch will bring you more information as it becomes available. 

Kenneth Stepp December 11, 2012 at 11:08 AM
I think when Mr Anderson is under oath it will be interesting to ask who hired him to attack Mr Witts. Of course by hiring him I mean "donated" to his now closed nonprofit. I'm told that's how that works.
Michelle Couch December 11, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Anderson has a "form" that he sends to potential clients who want someone investigated. It doesn't reflect "donation" in my opinion. He sent it to me last year when I contacted him about someone else that he investigated a few years back. I do believe him to be a hired gun. Perhaps he needs to better qualify his clients and exercise a significant degree of due diligence in his investigations, before he formally "persecutes" them to the public-at-large.
Michelle Couch December 11, 2012 at 11:43 PM
I reviewed the document/s that Anderson emailed to me: Here is an excerpt from Anderson's contract: The document is titled: Ethics in Government Group Contract for Consulting Services "A $350.00 retainer fee, to be paid in advance, will go towards the first 7 hours of work done for the above named clients, any additional time will be charged at $50.00/hour. Expenses not covered by hourly fee include travel expenses (gas & lodging), cost of Open Records materials and retrieval fees, copies of documents and any filing fees or court costs." A retainer is not a donation.
Kenneth Stepp December 12, 2012 at 12:46 AM
Perhaps he changed his MO. Here's ACOG's experience with him. It reads a bit differently. http://theacog.webs.com/georgeanderson.htm
George Anderson January 09, 2013 at 07:41 PM
Kenneth Your wealth of ethical knowlefge won't be enough to buy a cup of coffee. If you have any integrity...why not exhibit that type of moral character to the public? George Anderson

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