Johns Creek mayor disputes ethics violation charges

by: Mike Petchenik Updated:

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FULTON COUNTY, Ga. - Johns Creek Mayor Michael E. Bodker said personal phone records and rental agreements show he committed no ethics violations, but he said he will not hand those documents over to the City Council because he believes that would violate his privacy.

Last week, the council voted to subpoena the records after attorney Bob Wilson, hired by the council to conduct an investigation into Bodker, told members Bodker was refusing to cooperate with his investigation into allegations of ethics violations.

"I'm just not going to hand over, even to my own government, my private documents until they can show me the relevance," Bodker told Channel 2's Mike Petchenik in an exclusive sit-down interview. "It's only going to be used to harass me. I don't know why anyone would hand over the club that's going to be used to hit them with."

In June, five City Council members voted to launch an ethics investigation, but to date, they have not said specifically what allegations they're leveling against the incumbent mayor.

"The very questions that are being asked imply that I've taken some sort of payoff," Bodker said. "It feels like throwing spaghetti up against a wall and you're hoping that at least one strand will stick."

Bodker showed Petchenik the documents he will not hand over to the City Council. They included leases for two homes he rented after a recent divorce and cancelled checks he said prove nobody gave him a sweetheart deal.

"No special treatment because you're the mayor?" Petchenik asked.

"No special treatment that I know of because I'm the mayor," Bodker said.

Bodker said he knows the landlords who rented him the properties, but in one case, he said he had his brother's law partner negotiate the lease so there would be no appearance of impropriety.

"The lease is a market rate lease comparable to other people who had leases at the time," he said. "Some people probably had better deals. Some people probably had worse deals."

As for the phone records, Bodker said phone logs aren't itemized on his bills, but even if they were, he said it would provide no information of substance to investigators.

"I've received phone calls and made phone calls for city business," he said. "To ask me for six-plus years of phone records, it's not relevant and it's not fair."

Bodker characterized the investigation, which he said has cost taxpayers nearly $50,000 to date, as nothing more than a politically-motivated witch hunt.

"Why else would you be doing it, other than to tee up a negative campaign?" he said.

Petchenik repeatedly tried to reach to Bodker's opponent, Bev Miller, who resigned her council seat to run for mayor. She emailed last week that she would be willing to speak to Petchenik after the special called council meeting, but then declined to speak to Channel 2's Carl Willis after the subpoena vote.

Miller did email Petchenik a statement about Bodker's allegations the investigation is politically motivated.

"Do not lose sight that it was a unanimous vote by five very independent thinkers on Council to conduct this investigation for alleged illicit behavior," she wrote. "To do nothing would have been a dereliction of duties -- as a Council member I felt a responsibility to confirm the information we had rather than to ignore it. Why wouldn't we want to get to the truth, regardless of timing?"

Miller told Petchenik late Tuesday she didn't see his request for an on camera interview.


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