GBI opens probe of Fulton DA Paul Howard over use of nonprofit funds

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard subject of state criminal investigation

ATLANTA — The GBI has opened an investigation of Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard and his use of a nonprofit to funnel at least $140,000 in city of Atlanta funds to supplement his salary, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News have learned.

The criminal investigation comes at a time when Howard, Fulton’s DA since 1997, is being challenged in the Democratic primary for reelection and is facing allegations of sexual harassment, which he strongly denies.

In a statement issued Monday, Howard predicted he will be cleared of any wrongdoing.

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“This is not the first time what would be considered as an administrative matter for other Georgia elected officials is turned over to the GBI for investigation when it involves the Fulton County district attorney,” he said. This was in reference to the agency’s 2014 investigation of Howard’s use of money forfeited by criminals to pay for galas and dinners for his staff and their families.

In that GBI probe, prompted by media reports, “I was totally exonerated,” Howard said. As for the ongoing investigation, he said, “(I)f the facts are followed, it is my expectation that the result will be exactly the same.”

Howard said the timing of this investigation, weeks away from the June 9 primary, “is not lost on me.”

Howard is also facing a state ethics complaint for not disclosing he was a chief executive of the nonprofit, People Partnering for Progress, in personal financial statements. On April 15, the Georgia Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission charged Howard with a dozen disclosure violations, most of them involving PPP.

Part of district attorney's pay at center of state ethics investigation