CARROLL COUNTY, Ga. - The former head of Carroll County’s Board of Commissioners was granted unemployment after losing his bid for reelection and later denied.
"A month or so before I went out of office I asked the county's Human Resource Department if I qualified, and they went through the rules and they came back and said, ‘We don't see anything to stop it,’" Bill Chappell said.
After the Georgia Department of Labor granted his requests, the direct deposits began rolling in. However, about a month later, he received a letter telling him that he needed to give the money back. He did so with a cashier’s check.
The Department of Labor would not comment on Chappell’s file, but sent Channel 2’s Carl Willis a code stating that “employment” does not apply to an elected official, along with a note stating that an elected official should never apply for unemployment insurance.
"They granted it, and I assumed that the labor department would know the rules of the road they operated on," Chappell said.
Popular opinion on the case is mixed. Bobby Freeman, a taxpayer, believes that public officials should be able to collect unemployment because it is a job, after all. Janie McGraw, also a taxpayer has a different view.
"I mean they were a public servant, and they had the privilege of serving. Now, they can get a job," she said.
Chappell said that he understands the Georgia law and that under it, he does not deserve unemployment, even though he does not fully agree.
"I put five years of my life into a very difficult job. I had no qualms about applying," he said.
The head of the board of commissioners said that he is still getting letters from the Department of Labor. The last piece of correspondence that he has received was a note telling him how to continue to qualify for unemployment. Chappell has still not responded.