Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton and Judy Brownlee Ethics Complaint and Amendment

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DATE: 6/17/2014

I, Viola Davis and Restore DeKalb submit this 1st amendment to the ethics complaint filed against Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton (District 4) for the following violations:

(1) Violation of the DeKalb County Code of Ethics
(2) Violation of Oath of Office
(3) Violation of the Public’s Trust
(4) Violation of the Law (alleged)
(5) Conflict of Interest

I also submit this Ethics Complaint against Judy Brownlee, Commissioner’s Sharon Barnes Sutton’s top aide, for violations of the DeKalb County government’s Code of Ethics.

The conduct, prohibited by the DeKalb County Code of Ethics, that Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton and Judy Brownlee violated include:

• Directly or indirectly request, receive, or agree to receive anything of value which may influence or be perceived to influence, the member’s official actions.
• Use his/her position to secure unwarranted privileges for himself or herself;
• Engage in any activity or transaction that is prohibited by a law that is applicable to him/her by virtue of being a member of the governing authority;
• Etc. (Any other violations that the Ethics Board may find)

I have asked for the support of Restore DeKalb which includes Joel Edwards. We issue this ethics complaint to ensure there is transparency, ethics, and accountability in DeKalb County government. We have joined as a coalition to hold elected officials accountable for violating the public’s trust. We will welcome other taxpayers and voters who strive to restore public trust once we have the vote of the executive accountability board.

I will use the following documentation and video as evidence:

1. The AJC article, “Officials spend with little oversight”, by Johnny Edwards (May 25, 2014) – Mr. Edwards did an excellent article in the AJC which provided the following evidence to demonstrate Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton violated the Code of Ethics and included evidence below:

• Sharon Barnes Sutton’s P-card purchases
• Sharon Barnes Sutton’s cardholder agreement
• Sharon Barnes Sutton’s P-card travel agreement
• Audit of District 4 Purchase Card use
• Criminal Trespass and Simple Battery Police Report
• Open Records Request Documentation on Commission District 4 contract particularly with H.S.I Systems & Consultants, Inc., RightThink Associates, Inc., and Empowerment Planners and Consulting Group. (Conflict of Interest Section)

2. Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton and Judy Brownlee (according to the above article) used their P-card or purchasing cards for personal use which is prohibited to include:

• Barnes Sutton and her top aide put $75,000 on their purchasing cards since 2011, followed by Boyer’s office with $58,000.
• Barnes Sutton was missing receipts for more than $45,000 of purchases.
• Barnes Sutton also topped fellow commissioners in spending at retailers, such as Office Depot, Staples, Walmart, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Tuesday Morning, and Hobby Lobby.
• Barnes Sutton’s office spent about $24,000 at retailers for office equipment such as HDTV and $700 laptop, etc., while Boyer’s office spent about $19,500.
• Barnes Sutton used the Visa card (P-card) to pay a $130 speeding ticket, which she apparently received in January 2013. (see attachment for completed document)

• 8. Conflict of Interest – Sharon Barnes Sutton hired companies owned by her boyfriend (former), Warren Mosby and her executive assistant, Judy Brownlee, to perform duties and receive payments from the District 4 office despite the conflict of interest to include:

• H.S.I Systems & Consultants, Inc. is owned by Warren Mosby and Mosby received several contracts from Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton to include:
 $1,336.00 – Design of program for YLA Kick-off
 $4,212.00 – District 4 Commissioner Newsletter
 $10,000.00 – BOC Transition Advisory Capacity (see attachment)

• RightThink Associates, Inc. is owned by Warren Mosby and Mosby received contracts from Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton to include (alleged):
 $20,000.00 – Professional Services for District 4

• Empowerment Planners and Consulting Group is owned by Judy Brownlee (Barnes Sutton’s top aid) and Brownlee received contracts and payment from Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton. We will provide the full list of contracts once we can verify the date Judy Brownlee started working for Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton (alleged). The partial list include:
 $1,000 – Professional Consulting and Administration Services
 $1,125 – Professional Consulting and Administration Services

9. Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton and Judy Brownlee abused and allegedly violated county policy and local law by using the Purchasing Cards for personal use and neglected to reimburse the county for the full amount of money. The WSB Channel 2 investigation on retail spending among DeKalb Commissioners identified the following violations to include:

1. Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton and Judy Brownlee had 511 total purchases which added up to $75,583.33, to include 178 receipts or 34.8%.
2. The purchases with receipts total $29,901.63 and the purchases without receipts total $45,681.70. (see the attachment for complete information)

“Red Flag”: Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton deliberately and willfully misused her P-card dating back to October 2009, evidenced by:

A. Sharon Barnes Sutton was formally notified about her misuse of the P-card in two documents from Internal Audit & Licensing dated April 2, 2010 and October 12, 2011 (See Attachment). She was notified by Eugene O’Mard in 2010 and the document was sent to Dr. Michael Bell, Keith Barker, Kelvin Walton and Dale Dague (See Attachment). Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton’s office of BOC District 4 did not comply with DeKalb County P-Card policies and procedures. (see the attachment for complete information)

As a coalition, we call for an action plan to hold elected officials accountable and ensure their aides uphold policy and procedures, and the law to include:

• Request a 5-10 year audit (2003-2013) of Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton’s P-card use to evaluate if this was truly a mistake or a pattern of misuse which substantiates a violation of the law. If the evidence shows a pattern of abuse, we demand Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton and others be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.
• Require Sharon Barnes Sutton and Judy Brownlee to repay all monies for inappropriate charges on the P-card and/or charges paid by the county.
• Request the P-card use of every County Commissioner and their aides to evaluate if these actions are a systematic problem that extends to more than one or two commissioners (please include the Interim CEO Lee May and his aides as they represented Commission District 5);
• Request the information be forwarded to the District Attorney for prosecution if the Board of Ethic determines violation or violations of the law;
• Request the policy for P-card use be revised to include the Commissioners and all Board of Commissioners’ staff;
• Remove Sharon Barnes Sutton from office and terminate the employment of Judy Brownlee with DeKalb County and bar them both from ever working for DeKalb County in the future.

I, Viola Davis and Restore DeKalb, submit this Ethics Complaint and the amendment with the support of Restore DeKalb to hold Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton and Judy Brownlee accountable for their alleged illegal actions.


Viola Davis
Taxpayer and Voter in Commission District 4

Attachments Included

Amendment 1 to Ethics Complaint against Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton and Judy Brownlee and Documentation Attachment.

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