Fulton County DA says he is focused on runoff, will be exonerated after investigation

ATLANTA — The Fulton County district attorney says it’s time to focus on the issues as he heads into a runoff primary election against a former member of his staff.

Paul Howard sat down with Channel 2′s Dave Huddleston to answer questions about the race and a state investigation.

“I have every confidence at the end of that investigation that I will be totally exonerated because I know I’ve done nothing wrong,” Howard said.

Reporting by Channel 2 Action News and our investigative partners at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution have led to investigations of Howard by both the State Ethics Commission and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Channel 2 and AJC reporters discovered that the city of Atlanta sent $250,000 to the district attorney’s office for crime prevention programs and almost 80 percent of that went into Howard’s paycheck.

“I asked the city of Atlanta for a supplement to my salary and they agreed to it,” Howard said Thursday.

Several city council members have told Channel 2 Action News they do not remember approving the supplement.

“What I do know, the record shows they passed it by a 14 to zero margin. I think it may have been appropriate for some people to say they don’t remember it because it happened back in 2014,” Howard added. He says he has yet to be questioned by the GBI.

Howard is headed to a Democratic primary runoff against Fanni Willis. Howard came in second place Tuesday night but he says that’s a good thing and he hopes both candidates can focus on the issues.

“People want to be safe and I’ve already proven I can do that," Howard said.

Howard says he’ll continue to aggressively prosecute bad cops.

“We have prosecuted, for instance, more law enforcement officers who committed crime than any other office in the country,” Howard said.

He counts 38 officers prosecuted since he took office in 1997. He accused Willis of promising the police union not to prosecute in order to win their endorsement.

“Her campaign is saying that’s not true, well let me tell you something, that’s the only reason they are supporting her.”

The Willis campaign shared a Facebook clip where she said she bad apples in law enforcement will be dealt with swiftly and justly. She also joined the police chief in accusing Howard of moving too quickly to charge six Atlanta police officers with excessive force during a weekend of protests in May.

Willis said she thinks he made the decision based on politics.

“You indict police really quick when its good for you, but when it’s not good for you, you wait for the news to die down. Why don’t you just do what’s right when it’s right,” Willis said.

The primary runoff is set for Tuesday August 11.