WRITER’S NOTE: The following is a monthly compilation of alleged or documented stories about waste, fraud or abuse of taxpayer money or taxpayer-funded resources throughout Georgia. Material was gathered using government documents, the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s original reporting and/or previously published news articles.
An Email Scam and a Complete Lack of Transparency: The city of East Point lost more than $700,000 in an email scam, according to an audit.
City Manager Deron King knew about it but failed to inform the public or the city council.
As reported by FOX 5 Atlanta, East Point taxpayers want City Manager Deron King to leave his job, whether that means King resigns or the city council votes to fire him.
“King has shown no signs that he will willingly step down,” the station reported.
As of this week, the City of East Point’s website still lists King as city manager.
Cheating the System: Fulton County has indicted eight former state employees on charges of making false statements and violating the Georgia Employment Security Law.
This, for allegedly submitting false claims and weekly certifications to the Georgia Department of Labor (DOL) to receive unemployment insurance benefits when they were employed by the State of Georgia.
All alleged conduct occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a press release that Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr published last month.
The indictments follow an investigation conducted by the State of Georgia Office of the Inspector General (OIG) with assistance from Georgia DOL and the Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Labor.
Not a Gifted and Talented Way to Carry Out State Policy: An audit of the Georgia Department of Education’s gifted program said certain Georgia schools are not following important requirements.
Nevertheless, they still receive funding.
“Systems typically use larger class sizes than those set in the funding formula, and some do not follow the requirement to use a Gifted-endorsed teacher,” according to the audit.
State Gifted funding is based on a teacher/student ratio of 12 to 1. But more than 77% of gifted classes exceeded this ratio in fiscal year 2021. Gifted classes averaged 23 students per teacher, the audit said.
“Local school systems earned Gifted funding for classes that did not meet state requirements related to student eligibility and teacher endorsements,” according to the audit.
The excess funding due to these issues totaled $13.1 million, the audit said.
Trying to Cheat Their Way into a Promotion: An investigation revealed seven Cobb County firefighters collaborated on answers for a state-administered certification exam.
The firefighters participated in a course that would have allowed them to serve as instructors on specific fire apparatus operations.
This is according to a press release that the Cobb County Government published in August.
Four firefighters were demoted from lieutenant to engineer, and three others — two engineers and a firefighter — were suspended without pay.
Fire Chief William Johnson said the firefighters have “otherwise spotless records.”
The Butler Did it?: The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) withheld more than $105 million in penalties and fees accumulated in the last decade rather than turning it over to the state treasury.
This is according to Capitol Beat, which published the findings of an internal audit.
The audit attributes the withholding of the funds to a legal disagreement.
“According to the report, the money was withheld because the agency’s ‘upper management’ was unhappy the department was not being appropriated the full amount of the fees and penalties it had collected and, as a result, withheld the funds intentionally,” Capitol Beat reported.
“An in-house lawyer for the labor department believed the agency had a legal right to retain the money,” the audit found.
“While not alleging criminal wrongdoing, the audit concluded the practice of withholding funds from the state treasury in violation of the Georgia Constitution could encourage corruption.”
All funds were withheld during the administration of former Labor Commissioner Mark Butler, according to Capitol Beat.