Keeping corruption at bay


I am so very thankful to live in Peachtree City. The city has succeeded under all sorts of adverse conditions. Through recessions, housing bubbles, or stock market crashes, Peachtree City has had tremendous resilience, better than nearly every other municipality in the state.

We have less corruption, and we need to fight to keep it that way.

The main reason for Peachtree City’s success is its ability to attract stable, successful families who are civic-minded. For a little over a decade, the local government has become enamored with urbanization and attracting a more transient population at the behest of real estate developers looking to cash in and young far left-leaning residents who believe we owe them a place to live in our community at the lowest cost possible.

Many of us have witnessed an erosion of our quality of life over the decades. If we fail to hold our local government accountable, our standards will drop further.

Touched by corruption

Corruption is pervasive in society and occurs all over the world. Our lives are touched by acts of corruption every day.

Corruption is the abuse of trust in political or other organizations intending to obtain material benefit or influence that is not legally justified. Corruption occurs at all levels of society.

Corruption is so commonplace that most people take it for granted and rarely demand consequences for the abuse.

It is quite common for employees of the federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to be later employed by the same Wall Street firms they formerly regulated. Look at the number of former officials in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) who go on to work for big pharma companies.

Insider stock trading was legal for members of Congress. Likewise, elected officials with oversight capacity via committee appointments often receive large campaign contributions from the entities they regulate.

Locally, the now-defunct Peachtree City Development Authority was one of the most corrupt bodies in Fayette County history. We were also lucky to have survived the Janet Smola and Terri Smith era at the Board of Education. Additionally, we had to root out and kick out local bankers in local politics who had fallen off the ethical cliff.

Many consider corruption only as high-dollar exchanges among powerful industries and high-level politicians. You would be shocked at how public trust is often violated for simple exchanges.

Giving millions in exchange for pennies

There have been deals made, procurement of local government contracts, or receipt of favorable government decisions, in violation of the public interest because a certain entity purchased a nice dinner or sports tickets for local officials. Sometimes, the public interest is sullied in exchange for inclusion into a certain social group.

It is truly amazing how low the cost can be to divert government decisions on the expenditure of hundreds of thousands, even millions, of dollars at the local and state levels.

The official pomp and circumstance of reciting the formal oath of office, a sworn oath, is quickly forgotten just days later. Swearing to uphold and defend the local ordinances, the Georgia Constitution, and the United States Constitution can dissolve when personal interests or feelings come into play.

Many times, vested groups will initiate public harassment or intimidation campaigns to coerce elected officials to abandon the public trust. Lobbyists, political action committees, local Chambers of Commerce, etc. are active in the process.

Many officials will bow to aggressive public pressure from these groups because they have no real principles to lean upon. Like boxer Mike Tyson said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

The governmental bodies within Fayette County have not been immune to corruption. All one needs to do is go back to the archives and read the candidates’ promises made to the voters and see how they twisted those pledges after being elected. At times, the 180-degree shifts are due to some sort of corrupt activity, other times it’s simple peer pressure.

What can we do?

Acknowledge that corruption leads to moral degradation, financial loss, and bad faith. Don’t be part of the problem. Choose to be part of the solution.

Be careful who you vote for and ask the candidates specifically where they stand on key issues. Hold them to their pledges.

Call out officials who violate the public trust. Mayor Kim Learnard has been called out several times in her two years as mayor. Likewise, as we have seen locally, we need to expose the special interest groups who attempt to unduly influence our governmental process.

Officials who violate the public trust should never be re-elected. You need to vote in local elections.

Offer support for legislative bills that create more transparency and significant consequences for corruption.

Don’t allow associations or affiliations with various political or industrial entities to cloud your ability to speak out on corruption, no matter who commits the offense, speak out.

It’s up to you.

[Brown is a former mayor of Peachtree City and served two terms on the Fayette County Board of Commissioners. You can read all his columns by clicking on his photo below.]


  1. I look forward to Steve “The Cowardly Lion” finally catching the fire and fury he deserves for slinging mud on retired senior citizens who actually spend their time serving their local community.

    Meanwhile, Steve continues to accomplish nothing and impress no one with his addiction to attention.

    A prime example of an empty suit with an empty head.