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GA Supreme Court rules in favor of ex-commissioner Sutton, finds Ethics Board unconstitutional

Avondale Estates Decatur Metro ATL Tucker

GA Supreme Court rules in favor of ex-commissioner Sutton, finds Ethics Board unconstitutional

Former DeKalb County commissioner Sharon Barnes-Sutton File photo by: Dyana Bagby.
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Former DeKalb County commissioner Sharon Barnes-Sutton File photo by: Dyana Bagby.

This story has been updated. 

The state Supreme Court may have put the final nail in the coffin of the DeKalb county Board of Ethics on Monday, ruling the makeup of the board as unconstitutional.

That ruling also hands a victory to ex-DeKalb County Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton who had challenged the board’s authority and continued to do so after she was overwhelmingly defeated by current Commissioner Steve Bradshaw.

Supreme Court Justices affirmed a lower court’s ruling that only a government entity could make appointments to the board. The Ethics Board, which 90 percent of voters approved in 2015, was comprised of appointees from county government and other entities, like the local Bar Association and the DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce.

“As these private entities do not answer to the people as required by our Constitution, they are not authorized to wield the power to appoint public officials to the DeKalb County Board of Ethics,” the justices wrote.

To see the full decision, click here.

DeKalb County CEO Mike Thurmond said he’s committed to reviving the Ethics Board.

“The Supreme Court of Georgia has spoken,” Thurmond said. “DeKalb County Government will abide by the court’s ruling or further court order and work expeditiously with the Board of Commissioners to create a legally constituted ethics board that is fully accountable to the people of DeKalb County. In the interim, my administration will remain committed to ensuring that the county demonstrates the highest level of professionalism, integrity and ethical standards.”

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