Councilwoman and City Attorney leaked privileged information, report concludes
Councilwoman Adrian Bonser and City Attorney Brian Anderson named in independent investigation.
City Councilwoman Adrian Bonser and City Attorney Brian Anderson were responsible for leaking information from city executive sessions about a Georgetown redevelopment project they didn't support, according to the report from an independent investigation of the incident.
The report, released late Monday, was the product of a months-long investigation by Bob Wilson, former DeKalb District Attorney, who was hired by Mayor Mike Davis.
Both Bonser and Anderson are alleged to have leaked information either directly or indirectly to a local newspaper and a popular blog that often discusses local politics.
The city delayed a resolution to fire Anderson a week ago.
City Councilman Terry Nall said the leaks harm the city.
"It creates an element of distrust among council members," he said. "It compromises the integrity of the city."
The report says that the city met in executive sessions Jan. 23 and Feb. 3 to talk about the redevelopment proposal in Georgetown that the city is currently working on with John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods.
Information that could have only come from those sessions was published in the Dunwoody Crier. Anderson spoke to Dick Williams, the newspaper's publisher, the report concludes.
Most of the report focuses on Anderson's alleged actions.
The report's findings state that he breached his duty to council, broke attorney-client privilege, and acted as a "de-facto council member" by "offering his personal opinion to the Council rather than limiting himself to legal advice as the council’s attorney," according to the report.
The report also alleges that Anderson changed his story during the course of the investigation, attempted to declare the executive session public after the leaks and the impending investigation, and then rushed to release documents from a Georgia Open Records Act request in an attempt to make the leaks "moot."
Neither Anderson nor Bonser returned phone calls or e-mails related to this story.
Bonser, for her part, is alleged to have talked to an unnamed intermediary who then talked to city observer Bob Lundsten, according to the report. Lundsten has a popular blog on local politics that had information about the potential deal that was only talked about inside the executive session.
Bonser told investigators that she had no conversations about the Feb. 3 meeting. However, the report found she later acknowledged a conversation with Councilman Terry Nall the same afternoon in which Nall said she "lit into him" about his apparent support for the project.
After information about the land sale was already being talked about on local blogs and news sites, the report found that Bonser also sent e-mails to two constituents where she expressed her lack of support for the project and, also, how she saw no reason why it should be privileged information.
"I'm the council member who worked to buy the property," she wrote, according to the report. "My wishes and those of my constituents are being completely ignored."
She also wrote in one of the e-mails that there was nothing going on with the sale "that could not be discussed in public," according to the investigation.
Investigators said they were misled about Bonser's stance on the redevelopment project. She said that at the Feb. 3 meeting she was "warming" to the idea of the project - something investigators said was a mischaracterization based on her conversation with Nall.
Investigators concluded that Bonser was "attempting to create the false impression that she favored the project and therefore would not have had a motive to leak information about it," investigators concluded.
The council meets next Tuesday, a day later than normal because of the Memorial-Day weekend. That would be the first opportunity to fire Anderson without a specially-called meeting. Anderson's salary is approximately $140,000.
He has been with the city - starting as contract employee - since it was incorporated in late 2008. He has been on paid administrative leave for more than a week.
Anderson is appointed by the council and can be fired with a majority vote. Bonser's situation is less clear. As an elected official, any move to dismiss her would follow a different process. The city has an ethics board that's appointed by council that could take up the matter.