(UPDATE) Investigator: DeKalb County is ‘Rotten to the core’

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt August 5, 2015
DeKalb County Georgia. Source: Google Maps.

DeKalb County Georgia. Source: Google Maps.

An investigator hired to dig deeper into corruption in DeKalb County didn’t have to dig too far before uncovering the first inklings of a breathtaking array of misconduct within county government.

Mike Bowers, a former state attorney general, has released his summary report, as first reported by WABE.

Some of the highlights …

– P-card transactions “range from the petty to the absurd”

– Some department heads ignored requests to provide information and violated the state Open Records Act.

– The report says, “We started this investigation with the assumption that government employees and elected officials work hard every day to look after and tend to the business of the county. Within the first week we found some who did just the opposite.”

– Taxpayer money funded a trip to the Bahamas for an employee, flower arrangements, a “live” guitar player, a Christmas tree and dry-cleaning a judge’s robe. Taxpayer funds were also used to buy liquor, catered meals, candy, popcorn and pretzels filled with peanut butter for elected officials, department heads and staff members.

– Internal auditors have noted these problems before, but the misspending of taxpayer money has continued.

– Several county departments have regularly overspent their budgets with no consequences.

– The county awarded sole-source contracts, even though there were other qualified bidders available.

– A high-level official wrecked a county-owned vehicle and failed to follow procedures for reporting the accident.

– Taxpayers footed the bill for an impound fee after a county employee was arrested for a DUI. The man resigned, but was later rehired.

– Taxpayers have also paid traffic tickets and toll road penalties.

– “The take-home vehicle policy is routinely violated, with some folks getting a free ride to and from work each day.” The investigator also could not determine how many employees receive county-owned vehicles.

– There have been cover-ups of thefts of county property. One of the thieves is still on the county payroll.

– The investigator uncovered “what appears to be a bribery scheme involving a major county department.”

DeKalb CEO Lee May issued a statement in response to Bowers’ allegations.

I wholeheartedly disagree with the opinion that DeKalb County is rotten to the core.  The overwhelming majority of DeKalb County employees are honest, decent, hard-working, and committed to public service.

We were aware of the underlying issues mentioned in Mr. Bowers’ letter.  That is why we hired him to conduct a comprehensive review of county government operations to identify corruption, fraud, criminal activity, conflicts of interest, or abuse; with a report in 120 days.

The 120 days has come and gone, and it appears the only thing we have to show for it is a 2-page letter full of salacious – but vague – innuendo.

I was informed by Mr. Bowers today that a detailed report will be issued in 3 weeks that will provide me with a road map to reduce our risk exposure to waste, fraud and abuse.”

Lee May

Interim CEO, DeKalb County Government

Here is Bowers’ letter to CEO May.


About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

View all posts by Dan Whisenhunt

  • Angela PM

    Rotten? YA THINK? A $30M soccer stadium? Really? When they can’t even fix a water main because no one knows how and they don’t have the equipment?? UNBELIEVABLE. ARGH.

  • Johnny rotten

    Love the letterhead – DeKalb special investigations. No one takes on bowers and wins.

  • Brad

    Lee May sounds like Captain Renault. It has become rotten to the core because of the deleterious activities of the various county government leaders and their cronies. Even in the days of Scott Candler or Manuel Maloof there was a firm good ol’ boy system that is still firmly in place, just much more brazen and foolish. It’s now become a case of a “If they can do it, why not me?” attitude which rolls down from CEO types to the meter reader and construction inspector. If May didn’t want to hear these results, which anyone with a brain knows to be true, why did he hire some of the most respected (and expensive) investigative types in Atlanta? Hyde has rooted out a lot of corrupt judges—not that easy a task. County departments? Fish in a barrel.

  • Helen Pope Taylor

    Peach Pundit says Mike Bowers was thrown out of the commission meeting the other night. They are not interested in the results of his investigation. No surprise that they defunded it.

  • inatl17

    One key point Sean Keenan left out is that the full report was due when a 2 page letter with just allegations was issued. I am troubled by the fact Bowers would issue such a scathing letter and waive off the fact his report was due today. Could this be a ploy to swing the House District 80 race this Tuesday the outcome of which will determine if the Republican’s hold their supermajority in Georgia?

    Or is it just a cheap publicity stunt since he knows there will be little coverage of the full report when he finally releases it.

    • CMR

      You may need to check your facts. The full report was not due this last week.

      First, according to the executive order issued by Lee May, the investigation was to last “no less than 120 days”, that means at least 120 days.

      Secondly, as late as Thursday, May called for the full report to be delivered by August 26.
      “We agreed you would issue your final written report within the next three week (sic) which would be on or before Wednesday, August 26, 2015,” May wrote.

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