Former state ethics commission director seeking sanctions against Attorney General

Updated:

Stacey Kalberman

ATLANTA - Attorneys for Stacey Kalberman said Friday that they intend to seek sanctions against Attorney General Sam Olens’ office and the state ethics commission over the handling of a controversial memo related to Kalberman’s whistleblower lawsuit.

Kalberman attorney Kim Worth wrote to Olens Friday that the decision by his office to withhold the memo from Kalberman “reveal a concerted effort to conceal information relevant to my client’s claims.”

Kalberman had sued the state, claiming she was forced from her job for investigating Gov. Nathan Deal’s 2010 campaign. A Fulton County jury in April agreed, and awarded her $700,000 in damages plus another $450,000 in attorneys fees.

Earlier this month, however, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that current ethics commission director Holly LaBerge penned a July 2012 memo in which she details what she said were calls and texts from top Deal aides. LaBerge said she felt pressured by Deal chief of staff Chris Riley and executive counsel Ryan Teague to settle the complaints against the governor.

Less than a week later, the commission dismissed the major charges against Deal, who agreed to pay $3,350 in fees for technical violations to his campaign disclosures.

LaBerge turned over the memo to Olens’ office as part of the discovery process in Kalberman’s lawsuit, however Olens’ staff never gave it to Worth or attorneys for other former commission employees who had also filed suit or planned to sue. Olens last week said his office determined the memo was not “responsive” the plaintiffs’ demands for documents.

Worth, in her letter, said LaBerge, the commission and Olens “were under a legal obligation to provide” the emails and texts referenced in the memo, if not the memo itself.

Worth said she will file a motion for sanctions against Olens’ office and the commission with the Fulton County judge who heard the case by Tuesday if Olens does not respond.

Jeff Milsteen, chief deputy attorney general, responded Friday. In a letter to Worth, he said Olens’ staff “acted completely within the bounds of their ethical obligations in the above-referenced matter and we look forward to responding fully at the appropriate time and in the appropriate forum.”


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