A Peachtree City resident has filed a multi-page complaint against Mayor Kim Learnard for ethics violations allegedly related to campaign contributions and a subsequent vote on a rezoning request.
An Open Records request filed by The Citizen with City Clerk Yasmin Julio for a copy of the actual complaint and for examination of the dozens of pages of subsequent documents in the complaint package produced this email response: “Ethics complaints are exempt from disclosure under the Open records act until 10 days after the conclusion of the matter.”
Here’s how the complaint is supposed to be handled, according to Article III – Code of Ethics, Sec. 62-74 of the city code of ordinances:
• The city clerk (Yasmin Julio) delivers a copy of the complaint to the city manager (interim City Manager Justin Strickland).
• The complaint is heard by one of five attorneys who live and have offices outside of a 10-mile radius of Peachtree City. The clerk is supposed to ramdomly draw the name of the attorney and appoint the first one who is available to serve.
• The mayor has 15 days to file an answer to the complaint.
• After the 15 days, the hearing officer will review the complaint and answer and decide whether to throw it out for lack of “clear and convincing evidence” of a violation, or to move to further investigations that could result in a dismissal or in a finding that is reported to the city council.
• If the report finds an ethics violation, the council has a range of options available, including dismissal of the complaint, accept the finding and recommended discipline, or substitute its own discipline. The council could vote for a public or private reprimand or censure as an official response by the council, a request for resignation, or first steps toward formal removal from office, per state law.
Mayor Learnard is in her first year of service as the city’s mayor after election in 2021, but she served two 4-year terms as a member of council, beginning in 2010.