Gwinnett County ethics board recommends reprimand for Tommy Hunt - CBS46 News

Gwinnett County ethics board recommends reprimand for Tommy Hunter

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Source: WGCL Source: WGCL

The Gwinnett County Ethics Board is recommending a public reprimand for embattled Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter.

This decision came down Tuesday afternoon, months after Hunter called Congressman John Lewis a racist pig on Facebook.

The board wants Hunter to be publicly delivered a written reprimand. It wants that reprimand shared on the county website, in the county newspaper and in the county courthouse.

Board Chairman David Will said the decision had to be made, with or without Hunter in the room.

"We have gone out of our way to bend over backward to accommodate him, providing him notice and opportunity to be heard, and he chose not to participate," said Will.

The ethics board believes Hunter violated sections of the Gwinnett County Ethics Ordinance when he called Lewis a racist pig in January. Board members believe he put loyalty to party ahead of loyalty to the county. They also said Hunter engaged in behavior that breached the public's trust.

"We need to be responsible and accountable for the things that we do and sometimes the things that we say," said board member Charles Rousseau.

Helen Ho, one of two prosecuting attorneys, said she was pleased with the decision. She attacked Hunter’s recent attempt to stop the hearing from happening by filing a lawsuit.

"With his latest attempt to sue his colleagues and the entire county, thumbing his nose not just to half of his constituents, but to the whole county itself, you know, if he has that much of a problem, quit taking pay, step down," said Ho.

For months, people have called for Hunter’s resignation at county commissioners meetings and elsewhere. Hunter has mostly refused to address the complaints and protests.

On Tuesday, his attorney told CBS46 that he believes Hunter is being tarred and feather for his exercising his freedom of speech, though the board believes free speech is not without consequences. Its recommendation now goes to the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners, who have 30 days to decide whether to enforce the punishment.

The ethics board is also recommending that the Gwinnett County Ethics Ordinance be tweaked.

Nancie Turner, the woman who filed a complaint against Hunter, lives in Atlanta. Board members believe only those who live and do business in Gwinnett County should be able to file Gwinnett County ethics complaints. 

Judge decides not to hear arguments 

Hunter did not get his way in court Monday as a judge ruled that she could not hear arguments as to whether the ethics board investigating him is legal. That's because she says his attorney, Dwight Thomas, did not properly serve all of those named in his petition.

As a result, the ethics board moved forward with their decision on Hunter's punishment Tuesday.

Screen grab of Facebook post sent out by Hunter

Statement released after post

Hunter released this statement shortly after the incident:

"A poor choice of words when upset and aggravated.  Certainly the term I used was inappropriate.   Rep. Lewis called my vote illegitimate and I lashed out. Unfortunately when you write it down you can't take it back.  I am grateful for what Rep. Lewis did when he was younger in the Civil Rights movement but respect is earned by showing respect.  I guess that's where we all miss the boat--me especially."

The board has not yet voted on the right punishment for Hunter.

Stay tuned to CBS46 News and for the latest updates on the case.

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