Chairman: Ethics cuts about budget, not politics

7:09 PM, Jun 30, 2011   |    comments
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Patrick Millsaps

ATLANTA (WXIA) -- Camilla attorney Patrick Millsaps says the Georgia Ethics Commission will continue to vigorously investigate politicians -- even though the commission that he chairs cut salaries and staff.

Millsaps was re-appointed by Governor Deal to his position. He says an ongoing Ethics Commission investigation into Deal's campaign did not figure into budget cuts he says were months in the making. The two main Ethics Commission investigators are leaving following those cuts.  

We spoke with Millsaps Thursday.  Here are excerpts:

Q:  You are the guy who gutted the ethics commission.

A  Yes (chuckling). I was also involved in the Watergate scandal and I have videotapes of alien autopsies.

Q:  Following an action of yours, the Ethics Commission got sort of declawed and de-fanged, I suppose.

A: We tried to look at our budget and say "where can we save some money, re-prioritize some money and make it more efficient?" So to say that me or any of my fellow commissioners gutted anything, we don't have that authority. But to say that we have reallocated resources, that's what we've done.

Q: But in the course of cutting the budget, you went to the core of the agency's investigative ability.

A: This is a temporary bump in the road. It's not that we're saying "oh we're not going to do any more investigations."

Q:  Were you presented with subpoenas for the Deal investigation?

A:  I was given some information about the Deal investigation, but at that point - I've only been a Deal appointee for a few months -- I recognized that I need to recuse myself from playing a role in that. So whether or not there was a subpoena in the package of information I got, I don't know because I didn't look at the whole thing. Was I ever asked, Patrick will you sign this subpoena and I said no? That didn't happen.

Q:  You can see why folks would say:  You have a Deal investigation, then within days, the staff is cut and the budget is cut.

A:  But again-- that timeline is wrong... From as late as last year, even my predecessors were expressing concerns about the budget. Our executive secretary (Stacy Kalberman) was expressing concern about the budget.

Q:  So it's coincidental?

A:  Well, yes.

Yes, I can see why they'd draw conclusions based on that partial information. But at that same meeting where these investigations were discussed, we were also presented with the budget for the next fiscal year.

Q:  So you weren't doing it to protect Gov. Deal?

A:  I have served under three governors... I've met Gov. Deal twice. Once at a candidate forum, when everybody was running for governor. And when I was sworn in. So the absolute answer to that question is, absolutely not.

I would never do that because at the end of the day, my integrity is more important than some political appointment that I'm not paid for, and I have to drive from Camilla to come do.

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