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Horgan vs. Brown: Ethics battle goes to court

Former Fayette County Commissioner Robert Horgan wants current County Commission Chairman Steve Brown to repay the $2,128 in legal fees he was reimbursed for relating to two ethics complaints Horgan filed against Brown.

Horgan’s attorney, former county attorney Scott Bennett, filed a lawsuit last week in Fayette County Superior Court seeking to order Brown to repay the money despite the commission’s 3-0 vote authorizing the funding on April 25. Brown was listed as an individual defendant along with the county, but none of the other four commissioners were named in the suit individually.

Horgan contends that the county does not stand to benefit from paying for a lawsuit seeking to overturn the ethics board’s Jan. 23 decision that Brown violated the county’s ethics ordinance, nor will it benefit by paying for the attorney who represented Brown in the second ethics hearing March 13.

Although the ethics board determined at its Jan. 23 meeting that Brown violated a provision of the ethics ordinance that prevented commissioners from giving individual directives to employees, the panel decided not to enact any penalty on Brown for the violation. Brown was cleared of the second ethics complaint filed by Horgan.

Because there are no benefits to the county based on the outcome of the appeal or the March 13 ethics board hearing, the payment falls under the anti-gratuity clause of the Georgia constitution, Horgan argues in the lawsuit. The county, Horgan contends, is not at the risk of exposure to any loss or damages as the result of the ethics board’s Jan. 23 decision that Brown violated the ethics ordinance last year when he asked the county’s human resources director in an email to research a hiring matter with the Georgia attorney general’s office.

The commission earlier this year removed the portion of the ethics ordinance that kept commissioners from giving individual directions to employees, largely on that basis that it prevented them from engaging staff on mundane issues such as replenishing toilet paper in a county restroom.

Horgan’s lawsuit contends while the commission authorized paying a $300 an hour rate for Brown’s personally-selected attorney in the lawsuit seeking to overturn the Jan. 23 ethics board decision, the county administrator has authorized hiring an attorney to represent the ethics board at the rate of $150 an hour.

“Thus the county has agreed to pay Brown’s legal expenses at a rate that is twice that of the ethics board to handle the same appeal,” the lawsuit states.

In the lawsuit, Horgan is seeking an injunction to force Brown to repay the legal fees, and he further asks for a writ of prohibition ordering the commission to “cease and desist making any payments for private attorneys fees to its members.”

Horgan is also seeking to be compensated for his attorneys fees. He is being represented by former County Attorney Scott Bennett, with whom Brown has clashed numerous times.



little pissant.

MajorMike's picture


Horgan is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. He's probably the pawn of Mr. Bennett who will do anything to harass Mr. Brown.

The ethics board made the right decisions, but Mr. Brown went overboard lawyering up and the three amigos, set a bad precedent approving payment. Its obvious they are still quite passive to the Commission Chairman if no one even questioned the hourly cost difference the county normally pays for attorneys fees.

Bottom line, is that we all moved on to more important issues and Horgan / Bennett are costing the county more time and money.

americanpatriots's picture

Get over it already! Horgan you lost the election in a landslide and will never be elected for anything again.

And your buddy, Scott Bennett, who was fired and then destroyed computer records that would have shown he was operating a law practice at the Board of Commissioners office in violation of his employment contract, is a piece of work and should be disbarred.

You losers deserve one another!

If only Mr Horgan's joie de vivre was as pumped when he was a sitting commissioner as it is now that he's acting like a thirteen year old on the playground trying to get even after being called out.

You got caught breaking the law dude ...and you were smokin' pot to boot ...and everybody seems to get that except you. You got your little hand slapped. Now that you're not beholden to the citizens of this county you're trying to do ...what? Re-establish your good character? You blew that (is that a pun?) a long time ago with your (in)actions as a County Commissioner.

Do me and all the rest of Fayette County a favor and put it to rest. Go home.

Fox just called Obama a nut job. There editoral is halarious


PTC Observer's picture

We should be surprised about this?

But let it go Lewie


Ousted commissioners Robert Horgan and Lee Hearn have left no stone unturned trying to squeeze sour grapes on the current administration. Both appear to be reading scripts prepared by a third party (not mentioning any names). Unfortunately, neither has proven that he can indepently think on his feet, when it comes to defending his negative position against the current administration. Poor losers,no doubt.

But this time, you've got to give Mr. Hearn credit for sticking around long enough after his 17 minute public comment tirade last Thursday to hear the county's response from County Administrator Steve Rapson and Commission Chairman Steve Brown. Prior to then, he would read his lecture, make an about face, and walk out the door. On Thursday, Mr. Hearn made what some referred to as a "you-know-what" out of himself. We are lucky to have county officials who are sharp enough to brilliantly defend their actions on-point as being in the best interest of the county. My hat's off to the Administrator and the Chairman for a job well done.

Had a commenter taken over three minutes a year ago, he/she would have been promptly squelched at the buzzer by the previous administration. Subsequently, Mr. Hearn has promised to return "often", no doubt with more disparaging remarks, which will continuously rob the county and the audience of valuable meeting time. It's a show worth watching.

Can't wait to hear the next prepared script. Maybe Mr. Bennett might be better able to offer some extemporaneous rebuttal.

Robert W. Morgan's picture

Time wasters like Hearn and McHugh and potentially Horgan along with special interest people who think that repeating the same words over and over again in public makes them look good somehow. These are what will prevent the commission from getting anything done and they (like many others before) will somehow create time limits and other rules to control public speaking at commission meetings. I say good - do it! Some will complain about it.

Live free or die!

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