• Source: Assembly cut $80K check over discrimination suit

    Updated:
    ATLANTA,None - Channel 2 Action News is trying to get answers about a secret settlement involving taxpayer money and claims of discrimination.

    Channel 2's Lori Geary has learned the state cut a secret $80,000 check to settle the discrimination claims.

    Geary had a door shut in her face as a top lawmaker who heads the committee that approved the payout ducked out the back.

    Through an open records request, Geary was able to confirm the Georgia General Assembly paid out $80,000 to a law firm that specializes in discrimination.

    The state accounting office told Geary if she had questions about the check she should ask the president state Senator Pro-Tem Tommie Williams.

    Geary tried for hours, finally tracking down his chief of state, Nathan Humphrey, on-camera, who would not answer any of her questions before shutting the door in her face.

    Humphrey would not let Geary get near his boss. Williams sneaked out another door avoiding Channel 2's camera and Geary's questions.

    Williams also heads the Senate committee on Administrative Affairs.

    According to the Senate's own rules, that committee meets in private. Its decisions are also secret.

    Sources tell Geary that committee agreed to the payout after a longtime senate secretary, who worked at the legislative office building, was fired.

    "The accusation was she was fired because she was African-American," said state Sen. Vincent Fort, a Democrat and outspoken critic of the Republican leadership.

    Fort is not on the committee but claims to know many of the details even though all parties involved signed a confidentiality agreement.

    "I don't think the primary consideration was for the victim. I think it's about protecting people in high places," Fort added.

    Geary tracked down the secretary in question at her home. She referred Geary to her attorney, Dena George, at Buckley and Klein, a law firm that specializes in employment discrimination. George had no comment.

    In a statement, Williams' office told Geary the state Senate is not subject to the open records act and the matter related is a personnel matter.

    Fort told Geary "I'm very concerned this is shrouded in secrecy. I think the people have the right to know what is their taxpayer money being used for. It's the good ol' boy system at its worst."

    Republican Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle also sits on that committee. His office referred all questions to Williams.

    The only Democrat to sit on the committee also refused to comment.

    Next Up: