Evidence that Dekalb County is “Rotten” Emerges

| October 1, 2015


ATLANTA — This is what the special investigators meant when they called DeKalb County “rotten to the core”:

County commissioners hand tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to campaign workers, public relations firms, consultants, charities, and even a commissioner’s boyfriend. Rank-and-file employees freely spend hundreds of dollars on television sets, groceries, flowers, snacks and gift cards. And one lucky employee goes to the Bahamas on the county dime after winning an office drawing.

And Interim CEO Lee May, who ordered the probe, was part of the problem, too. The investigators accuse him of standing in their way when a trail of questionable conduct led to his door.

Their recommendation to May: Resign immediately.

“He hired us and gave us a mission of uncovering fraud, waste, abuse and corruption and we took that on in good faith,” former Attorney General Michael Bowers said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday. “But then he hides from us that he himself is engaging in what I can only call sinister conduct.”

Bowers and special investigator Richard Hyde delivered their explosive findings to May in a 40-page report filled with damning allegations of mismanagement and spending run amok. The bombshells didn’t take long to land.

May called a news conference two hours after the AJC broke the news and angrily denounced the report’s findings, its authors — and its $850,000 price tag.

“The salaciousness of this report is unbecoming a former Attorney General of this state,” said May. The CEO rejected the call to resign. And he sought to turn the tables on his accusers, saying “what we have today is wasteful” and adding that he’d seek to recover money spent on the investigation.

In what might be the most staggering political miscalculation in recent metro Atlanta history, May hired the bulldog investigators in March to conduct a far-reaching inquiry into DeKalb’s spending and remove the “stench of corruption and distrust” from county government.

But the gambit blew up in his face. The Bowers/Hyde report paints a picture of run-away government spending, with no controls or oversight, and flagrant disregard for laws and the Georgia Constitution.

“They can hire investigators, they can hire auditors, they can hire experts from now until kingdom come and it won’t make any difference until there is some discipline instilled as a matter of leadership,” Bowers told the AJC. “And there is none. Zero. None. Somebody’s got to say, ‘Stop. Don’t do that.’ I gather nobody does that. The county attorney doesn’t do it. The CEO doesn’t do it. And they just spend money. They do things they ought not to be doing and it can only be called corruption.”

Read more at AJC.com

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