Attorneys for two ethics employees who settled their whistleblower cases with the state are demanding answers from Attorney General Sam Olens.
The two said the memo is nothing short of stunning and that it absolutely would have strengthened their cases. They said it doesn't matter whether the new ethics director was a puppet for the governor, what matters is his staff who handpicked her, later went directly to her to try to influence the case
Ed Buckley and Cheryl Legare represent two of the whistleblowers who recently settled with the state regarding allegations at the troubled state ethics commission. Legare said Sherilyn Streicker's case was already strong but would have been even stronger with a memo from Laberge documenting interference by Gov. Deal's chief of staff and chief counsel, in his then-pending ethics case. One of those staffers is the same one who recruited Laberge for the job, before her predecessor and Streicker were ousted.
"It's absolutely relevant, it's the crux of our case. I think it justified our whole theory of the case. And when I saw it, all along the fight was ‘Oh, you're conspiracy theorists. This didn't happen, and now we know that it did,’” Legare said.
But these attorneys and the attorney for former ethics director Stacey Kalberman never knew about the memo, despite years with pending lawsuits and discovery requests which asked for all correspondence between Laberge and Deal’s staff. Monday, Olens said the memo didn't fall within the scope of what was requested in the Kalberman case but these attorneys said it absolutely applied to the discovery in their case.
"We think it was improper not to turn over this document absolutely we think it was a violation of the rules of the court and a violation of the rule of law,” Buckley said.
So what can they do about it? They are considering their options right now, while waiting on an explanation from the attorney general's office. They could ask a judge for sanctions against those attorneys or they could file complaints with the Georgia Bar or they could even try to undo those settlements if they feel they were based on a fraudulent discovery process.