The results of the last quarterly meeting for the Georgia State Ethics Commission (https://ethics.ga.gov/) are in and they do not look good for the Democratic members of the Gwinnett School Board. Not surprising – like many elected Democrats, these Board Members show very little respect for the law when it is inconvenient to them. Also not surprising – local news outlets are ignoring the story.
Tarece Johnson, Karen Watkins, and Everton Blair all had their “day in court” as the Ethics Commission (also known as the Georgia Government Transparency & Campaign Finance Commission) heard the complaints against them. Blair and Watkins were able to work out a settlement, but Tarece Johnson has racked up so many violations that her case was moved to a hearing to be held later.
Karen Watkins – Ms. Watkins violated Georgia Code section 21-5-50 when she refused to disclose her personal finances. The Commission negotiated a settlement agreement with Watkins on December 9th, 2021. The terms state that she must pay a fine and abide by the Ethics laws going forward or the Commission will “seek enforcement against [Watkins] in Superior Court.” The full Consent Order appears at the end of this article.
Everton Blair – As Chairman of the Board, you would think Blair would at least make some effort to follow the law. Apparently not. The Commission found that Blair committed nine (9!) violations in just the past three years. If he had been a student at a Gwinnett County school he probably would have been suspended, but as the head of the School Board Everton got off this time with only a $1,125 fine. The full details of all of the violations appear at the bottom of this page.
Tarece Johnson – No surprise, Johnson is the biggest scofflaw. She had already worked out an agreement with the Ethics Board earlier this year and paid a fine for accepting illegal campaign contributions, and in that agreement, she promised to obey the laws going forward. Oops. Tarece “laws are meant for thee and not for me” Johnson was caught violating state law again. Because of her prior offenses, Ms. Johnson was not allowed to simply reach another settlement, and after hearing the evidence, the vote was unanimous – Tarece Johnson “violated the campaign finance act.” This means that she will have to face an actual hearing at a later date.
Again, we have to ask – are these the type of people we want running our schools? Or managing a budget that is over $2 billion? In 2022, I, for one, am voting ‘NO.’