Four DeKalb County officials -- including suspended CEO Burrell Ellis and embattled Commissioner Elaine Boyer -- are now the targets of investigations by the county’s ethics board.
The ethics board agreed Thursday to begin investigations against Ellis and Boyer, both elected officials the board could remove from office, and decided to pursue complaints against two suspended county employees who could be fired, reports The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The board will hold preliminary hearings in June on two outstanding complaints that date back to 2011. Ethics board members also agreed to let its advising attorney start investigating the cases against Ellis and Boyer, as well as those against suspended Purchasing Director Kelvin Walton and Ellis’ former secretary, Nina Hall.
The ethics complaint against Ellis asks that he be removed from office based on the allegations of political corruption against him.
Ellis will go to trial in September on charges he pressured contractors for campaign donations. A judge ruled last month that secret recordings of Ellis can be used against him. He faces 14 felony charges, ranging from bribery to theft, which he has consistently denied.
Boyer, who has been criticized for making personal charges on her county-issued credit card, faces ethics complaints filed by Joseph Newton and Thomas Owens against Boyer and her chief of staff, Bob Lundsten, reports WABE. Signing on to the complaints were representatives of the citizens group Restore DeKalb. One of its members, Joel Edwards, told WABE, “We want transparency, we want integrity, and we want accountability. Bottom line.”
Boyer apologized in March for allegedly misusing her county debit card for thousands of dollars of personal expenses, and said she didn’t realize the practice was prohibited. According to an investigation by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Boyer used her county VISA card for non-work-related expenses that included meals, rental cars, and airline tickets to a ski resort.
The cases against Walton and Hall – whose sworn court testimony indicated they were involved in activities that led to the corruption case against Ellis -- could result in their firings. Interim CEO Lee May has suspended the pair, with pay, until the court case is settled, AJC.com reports.
By state law, the DeKalb ethics board has the power to fire and remove elected officials, though it has never exercised that authority.