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Hearn apologizes for his silence on vote for cousin to elections board

After enduring criticism from a handful of residents Thursday night, Fayette County Commissioner Lee Hearn apologized for not previously disclosing that the commission’s appointee to the Fayette County Elections Board was in fact his second cousin.

“I am sorry that I didn’t divulge that,” Hearn said. “I made a mistake. And I sincerely apologize for that. I know that many of you know I’m sincere and a real person. Others are somewhat skeptical and I will tell you that the good Lord in heaven knows my heart and knows my intentions are good, and that’s who I’m really worried about at this stage of the game.”

The board appointed Addison Lester to the position on a 3-2 vote at its Feb. 24 meeting, with Hearn and commissioners Herb Frady and Robert Horgan voting in favor, and commissioners Allen McCarty and Steve Brown voting against.

Hearn’s relationship to Lester was revealed at the April 6 commission meeting when Brown asked Hearn if he was related to Lester. Hearn then admitted that Lester was his mother’s cousin.

At Thursday’s meeting, Hearn said Lester wasn’t the only person he spoke with about taking the position, and he felt that Lester “is of impeccable character.”

“I tried to pick men I felt like would do a great job in putting together a great plan and running that department like it needs to be,” Hearn said.

Hearn’s comments came at the very end of the meeting under a portion reserved for “commissioner reports.”

But it was earlier in the meeting that critics verbally flayed Hearn at the podium during citizen comments.
Peachtree City resident Ray Watt said that Hearn had plenty of time to divulge his relationship with Lester since the vote had been tabled once and was thus considered at a second meeting.

“Mr. Hearn’s recent disclosure is amazing because it didn’t come out until he was caught,” Watt said. “That says a lot about the character of somebody.”

County resident Steve Smithfield suggested the appointment was a matter of nepotism, and that commissioners Frady and Horgan also had responsibility since they voted for the appointment.

Resident Gail Onesi suggested that Hearn was “deceitful” in initially claiming that Lester was “someone you described as who you knew from church” instead of his cousin.

She further alleged that Lester could not be impartial in overseeing Hearn’s re-election next year.

Denise Ognio said she felt Hearn made a mistake, and she asked the commission to rescind the appointment and revisit the matter.

“We need the best person in this office, and I don’t think the guy you nominated was,” Ognio said, asking that the commission consider re-appointing Marilyn Watts to the elections board.

The elections board consists of three members: one appointed by the commission and one appointed by the Fayette County Democratic and Republican parties.

Watts, who has drawn praise for her knowledge of election law and willingness to serve, was replaced on the board by the commission’s 3-2 vote in favor of Lester.



now, you need to apologize face to face in public to the woman who has held this position with impeccible credentials.

Your cousin needs to step down. No harm done.

Get you and your fellow comm. members to revote in the woman who should not have been ignored.

And know that your political career is over and do what you can to listen to the voters till your term is over. If you can't or won't do that, resign.

Too touchy?

Mr. Hearn's first cousin, once removed, not his second cousin, if he is in fact his mother's first cousin! One removed means 'removed one generation,' not once removed from the family Bible for worldly transgressions!

Swift Death To False Statements About Familial Relationships In Local Newspaper Stories About Alleged Nepotism In Elections Commission Appointments!

Go Braves and Hawks! Both playing tonight!

“I tried to pick men I felt like would do a great job in putting together a great plan and running that department like it needs to be,” Hearn said.

He obviously feels that a woman in not qualified for the job! Must be another reason he wanted Watts out. That's all I've got to say about that.

Robert W. Morgan's picture

I have no idea why people keep repeating the same stupid mistakes, but the good news is that we are all familiar with the template for forgiveness.
First you apologize for the distraction - ideally without admitting blame and always invoking the name of the Lord.

Second, someone offers to resign (this needs to be Mr. Lester) and this can be handled in a classy way, which preserves the dignity of the resignee for the sake of his future.

Then, last but certainly not least, the great deliberative body (county commission in this case) makes a show of taking action. Sometimes harsh, sometimes non-exsistent, but always with an eye toward how important the sinner is to the organization and what the newspaper headline will be. In this case it is pretty easy - just call for a do-over on the vote to confirm Mr. Lester. It will be 3-2 again or possibly 2-3 if Hearn abstains - as he should.

Then something or nothing happens and we move on to the next stupid mistake. I'm hoping for something that involves sex next time. Lying and pot are so yesterday, but sexual misadventures are still in fashion, require great writing skills for the reporter and besides, we haven't had one of those for a while.

Live free or die!

suggarfoot's picture

If someone apologies, that is only the 1st step. To only apologise and not attempt to remedy the wrong, is insincere.

suggarfoot's picture

Remember the Judges?

Robert W. Morgan's picture

Need something current that can be used in the upcoming election. Somehow I doubt Dougie or Eric in PTC will be involved in anything like that, so we need to look in the county. Herb cross-dressing? Lee having a not-so-imaginary friend at his day job? Horgan caught somewhere late at night doing something questionable? Well, probably not. So we have to wait and see who runs against those 3 and hope they are more colorful.

Live free or die!

MajorMike's picture

Remember Janet Smola? Check the Citizen archives.

The blog posts are right on target. Lee Hearn did not offer an apology. He threw up a public smoke screen. Mr. Lester isn't going anywhere and you can bet the farm Hearn does his darnest to keep his cus in the seat.

Maybe Bishop Long will come to the next commission meeting and back Hearn up.

suggarfoot's picture

I get the impression when Hearn is challenged on anything, he hides behind religion.

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