The lone Democrat on Georgia’s ethics panel was kept in the dark as two Republican commissioners consulted with Nathan Deal’s office to replace the agency’s director in the midst of investigating the governor, according to new legal documents reviewed Friday by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Kent Alexander, a former federal prosecutor who has resigned from the commission, said in sworn testimony that the communication between Holly LaBerge and Deal’s office prior to LaBerge’s hiring in August 2011 was “problematic.”
“Until today, I was not aware of that, assuming that that occurred,” Alexander said in a legal deposition.
The AJC revealed Wednesday that Deal’s office had reached out to LaBerge about leading the ethics commission a month before there was ever an opening and as it was in the midst of probing Deal’s conduct during his 2010 bid for governor.
Deal and his attorney do not dispute that the governor’s aides met with LaBerge before she was hired. They characterize that as part of routine discussions about new hires. But Deal has called others parts of the report “unsubstantiated” and blasted the AJC’s coverage.
Patrick Millsaps, the commission chairman when LaBerge was hired, said in his own sworn testimony that he disagreed with suggestions that the governor had helped LaBerge win the job.