Sabrina Smith – 770-572-5888 | SabrinaWorks247@hotmail.com
John Hunter – 770-492-4298 | Info@GeorgiaWatchdogs.com
MEDIA ADVISORY PRESS CONFERENCE:
RICO Lawsuits Against Georgia Attorney General
WHO: Georgia Watchdogs, a diverse group committed to providing a non-partisan resource for Georgia residents who want to learn more about their public officials and government agencies.
WHAT: Press Conference
WHEN: Monday, September 22, 2014, 8:45 AM
DeKalb County Courthouse
556 N. McDonough Street
Decatur, GA 30030-3306
(Decatur, GA) Georgia Watchdogs, a consortium of open government, taxpayer and education advocates, is holding a press conference prior to the hearing in Judge Daniel Coursey’s Dekalb courtroom for one of the RICO lawsuits filed against Georgia’s Attorney General and the Board of Regents. The press conference is scheduled for 8:45 AM, just prior to the hearing that starts at 9:30.
RICO lawsuits have been filed against the Attorney General and Board of Regents alleging criminal behavior. The lawsuits claim the defendants engaged in a pattern of illegal activity under the RICO statute, including acts of evidence tampering, identity theft, identity fraud, false statements to state agencies, perjury, subornation of perjury, mail fraud and wire fraud.
Here is an excerpt from one such case: Benedek-Complaint—FULTON-State-amended-AG-RICO
What was the response of the Attorney General to these criminal allegations? The Attorney General’s court filings do not dispute facts in the complaints but request that the court dismiss the complaints because public employees are immune from civil lawsuits.
The Attorney General’s office lost the Ethics Commission whistleblower lawsuit and was fined $10,000 by a Fulton County Superior Court judge for withholding key evidence in that trial. One of the RICO lawsuits alleges that an Assistant Attorney General, once again, withheld key evidence from a plaintiff’s attorney. Taxpayers are closely watching this lawsuit because of their concern that the behavior in the Ethics Commission whistleblower lawsuit that resulted in a fine to be paid by taxpayers may not be an isolated event at the Attorney General’s office. An Assistant Attorney General is accused in one of the lawsuits of telling witnesses their false statements would be protected by sovereign immunity.
Taxpayers were saddled with a $3 million bill because of retaliation against former Ethics Commission chief, Stacy Kalberman, when she attempted to investigate the finances of the Governor Deal campaign. If wrongdoing is proven in these RICO lawsuits, the taxpayers could, once again, be forced to pay the bill for misdeeds by public officials. With treble damages possible in RICO cases, taxpayers could be looking at another huge payout.
The Attorney General is constitutionally required to investigate public corruption at state agencies. In fact, it was just in March of this year that Attorney General Sam Olens spoke at a State Bar of Georgia’s constitutional symposium about his responsibilities. Unlike their federal counterpart, state attorneys general are elected, yet they must divorce themselves from politics once in office, Olens said.
“At the end of the day, we’re not an elected Republican or an elected Democrat attorney general. We’re the state’s lawyer,” Olens said. “And just as lawyers are sworn to uphold the constitution of their states and their country, we do it again when we’re sworn in as the attorney general for our state, and we spend a lot of effort literally defending the state constitution and the federal constitution.”
However, being put in office by the will of voters gives state attorneys general more independence to deal with separation of powers issues, Olens said. Additionally, the office has the unique ability to oppose its clients, he said.
“In our daily life, we often have clients who come to us, and we have to say, ‘No, really. You have to follow the law,’” Olens said. “And they go, ‘No, no, no. You’re my lawyer.’ And we go, ‘No, no, no. First, you’re going to follow the law, and then we’ll be your lawyer.’”
Olens pointed to the State Bar of Georgia’s adoption of Rule 9.5 decades ago. It states that lawyers who are public officials and represent the government are not prohibited from taking legal positions adverse to the government “when such action is authorized or required by the U.S. Constitution, the Georgia Constitution or the statutes of the United States or Georgia.”
Upholding the constitutions is more important than if the client is happy with you, Olens said.
The Attorney General has admitted he never investigated claims of fraud, collusion, or admitted falsification of budget reports; he never investigated claims of whistleblower retaliation; and he never investigated documentation of evidence tampering, mail fraud, wire fraud, identity theft, perjury, and other criminal activity that sits in University System of Georgia files today.
Georgia Watchdogs is urging all Georgians to closely watch these RICO lawsuits. Allegations of criminal wrongdoing by our Georgia Attorney General could have serious implications for all of Georgia’s taxpayers. The fact that the Attorney General is claiming sovereign immunity for criminal acts should be a wakeup call for every law abiding citizen in the state.