A letter to the editor from Tricia Sterns contains two false charges of ethics violations against Peachtree City Council Post 1 candidate Eric Imker and Post 2 candidate Suzanne Brown, according to information from the state ethics office, reproduced below.
A letter by Tricia Stearns, “OPINION: Is The Citizen trying to be the real puppet master?” includes a statement about myself and ethics violations.
It is inaccurate. Please see email below from the GA Ethics office.
A correction would be most appreciated.
Best, Eric Imker
———- Forwarded message ———
From: Jeff Morris <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, Oct 24, 2023 at 2:28?PM
Subject: E-Filing System
It has come to my attention that a news outlet listed your name as a candidate that had unfiled reports and late fees. I would like to apologize for our error and that your name was brought up as a late filer.
Unfortunately, our e-filing system experienced a malfunction, and erroneously administered candidate’s late fees. We are currently trying to resolve this issue and identify any other candidates that were issued late fees in error. Please accept our apology.
Jeff Morris , Chief of Staff
200 Piedmont Ave
Suite 1416- West Tower
Atlanta Ga 30334
Candidate Suzanne Brown responded below:
City Council candidate Suzanne Brown running for Post 2 in Peachtree City was surprised to see a letter to the editor from Ms. Tricia Stearns claiming, “Suzanne Brown and Eric Imker have campaign violations at the state office.”
Ms. Stearns also ridiculed The Citizen online newspaper for not reporting on the “$125 fine by the ethics division of the Georgia Campaign Finance Commission.”
She continued, “And more importantly, it is a clear example of picking and choosing coverage of the local council race by The Citizen.”
Ms. Stearns went on to attack candidate Brown with her accusation, “I find it ironic that Suzanne Brown seems to find fault in how the city operates, yet she also has an ethics fine by the Georgia Campaign Finance Commission for not disclosing and filing on time any contributions to her campaign.”
As it turns out, the lack of coverage from The Citizen stemmed from there being no violation as Ms. Stearns argued. There are no violations present for candidate Suzanne Brown.
All the way back on February 23, 2023, candidate Brown submitted a signed and notarized “Affidavit of a Candidate’s Intent Not to Exceed $2,500 in Contributions and/or Expenditures” to the City Clerk of Peachtree City who forwarded a copy of the document to the Georgia’s State Ethics Commission.
Both the City Clerk’s Office and the State Ethics Commission acknowledge having the signed document on file.
Candidate Brown’s contributions and expenditures have not exceeded $2,500; therefore, there is no violation and no fine.
“When I read the allegations from Ms. Stearns, I immediately contacted the City Clerk’s Office and the State Ethics Commission to see what had happened,” said candidate Brown. “Both entities confirmed there was no violation and that whatever Ms. Stearns assumed was in error.”
State Ethics Commission Chief of Staff Jeff Morris personally apologized to Suzanne Brown for being accused of misconduct when her campaign filings were in perfect order. Anyone wanting to verify the proper filing of candidate Brown’s campaign reports can contact the City Clerk of Peachtree City at email@example.com and Chief of Staff Jeff Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Candidate Brown concluded, “I know Ms. Stearns was just trying to bolster her candidates Tamara Moore and Vic Painter who have received campaign funds through the chairperson of the real estate developer leaning political action committee Plan for PTC and she made a gaffe.
“I harbor no ill-will towards Ms. Stearns. However, I do hope she will offer a public apology to The Citizen for accusing them of wrongdoing.”