Fulton County

Fulton DA Paul Howard pays ethics fine, but GBI investigation still ongoing

ATLANTA — Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard has agreed to pay a $6,500 fine to the state ethics commission.

Howard admitted he failed to disclose his role with two non-profits which paid him more than $200,000.

But the far more serious issue for Howard, who is locked in a tight runoff for re-election, is the Georgia Bureau of Investigation criminal investigation of the same payments.

Howard has defended the payments as a well-deserved pay raise for him.

“This came to the attention of the commission, following a news story in the AJC And Channel 2,” said Ethics Commission Executive Secretary David Emadi.

Our stories first revealed that Howard used two non-profits to steer money to himself largely because he believed in 2014 that he was badly underpaid compared to other big city DA’s and even some Georgia DA’s.

Howard failed to disclose two things required of elected officials: his position of trust in an outside organization and his outside or secondary employment.


“District Attorney Howard has agreed to pay a fine and admit to those violations. He agreed to pay a fine of $6,500.

“We are satisfied with the terms of the consent order. And I don’t think anything else needs to be said about it,” Howard’s attorney Frank Strickland told Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher.

Commission officials carefully discussed the GBI criminal investigation of the same payments -- but provided no details.

“I’m going to be careful about getting too detailed pause because there are other elements in play here,” Emadi said.

“There could be a far bigger issue which is he was sitting in a public role as a DA and also taking on compensation from an outside source. Again, that’s outside of our jurisdiction, but I think that will be looked into,” Ethics Commission Chairman Jake Evans said.

Here’s how Howard described the criminal investigation to Channel 2 Action News earlier this week.

“I have every confidence that I’ll be totally exonerated because what I’ve done is what most Americans do all the time, they ask for a pay raise,” Howard said.

Howard sent Belcher a statement Thursday, saying he is pleased the ethics matter is resolved. He also said that at no time was he attempting to hide his position with the two non-profits.

A GBI spokeswoman emailed a statement as well, saying their investigation is active and ongoing.

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