DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Channel 2 Action News is reviewing a list of vendor contracts that prosecutors believe DeKalb County’s CEO used to shake down companies for campaign contributions.
CEO Burrell Ellis faces a 15-count felony indictment alleging that he threatened to withhold county business from companies that didn't contribute to his campaign.
The spreadsheets of vendor contracts, at least 40 spreadsheets in all, date from June 2011 to last April. It lists the names of companies awarded county contracts, the names of the projects and the points of contact for the companies.
The indictment, released last month, alleges Ellis ordered county employees to create the lists after each county commission meeting for solicitation purposes.
“If the allegations are true, this is just a shocking abuse of power. This is what we call pay to play,” said William Perry, of the watchdog group Common Cause.
The list was first obtained through an open records request by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"I haven't really seen anything like this to the extent that county employees were being used to create basically fundraising lists," Perry told Channel 2's Tony Thomas.
The spreadsheets include about 500 vendors names, with some appearing several times.
Thomas called one of Ellis' lawyers for a response to the list. Attorney Craig Gillen repeated the sentiments he expressed when the indictment was first handed up.
"There is nothing wrong with an elected official, a public-elected official, seeking and accepting campaign contributions with individuals who do business with the county," Gillen said earlier this year.
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