Board of Ethics to Take up Ethics Complaints Targeting Fani Willis
Board of Ethics to Take up Ethics Complaints Targeting Fani Willis

By Jack Phillips

The Fulton County Board of Ethics in Georgia confirmed Wednesday that it will take up multiple complaints against Trump prosecutor and District Attorney Fani Willis.

In a letter, the county board said that it will “hold a special meeting” on possible Willis ethics violations on March 7, saying that “members of the public are welcome to attend.”

It provided few details, but gave a list of items to be discussed in the meeting, including two specific complaints against Ms. Willis. According to the letter, Greg Mantell, with the Investigative News Service on Substack, is said to be the source of one of the Willis complaints, while an individual named Steven Kramer also filed a complaint.

Ms. Willis has been recently accused of financially benefitting from a relationship with her special prosecutor, Nathan Wade, according to a motion filed by a Trump case co-defendant, Michael Roman. Both testified on Feb. 16 over the matter, denying allegations of any impropriety—although portions of their testimony were called into the question.

Reports have indicated that Mr. Mantell wrote to the Fulton County Ethics Board last month and accused Ms. Willis of multiple ethics violations stemming from the Roman filing last month.

In the letter, he wrote that “I wish to file a formal ethics complaint against Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis for several violation of the Ethics Code,” adding later that he wanted to see her expense reports for 2021, 2022, and 2023, contracts with Mr. Wade for those same years, and related records.

During last week’s hearing on whether she should be disqualified from the Trump case, Ms. Willis pushed back regarding allegations that romance with the special counsel presented a financial conflict of interest

She repeatedly accused a lawyer for Mr. Roman of lying in her statements to the court by implying that Ms. Willis had lived with the colleague. “You’re confused. … You think I’m on trial. These people are on trial for trying to steal an election in 2020,” the Fulton County district attorney told the lawyer, Ashleigh Merchant.

Ms. Willis described the assertion in court papers the two had lived together as “another one of your lies.” She took the stand after fellow prosecutor and former romantic partner Nathan Wade in testimony denied allegations of financial impropriety.

Lawyers for Ms. Willis’s office initially opposed her testifying, but dropped their opposition when the prosecutor made a surprise entrance in the courtroom.

And Mr. Wade on Thursday denied accusations that the district attorney financially benefited from the relationship, giving her an incentive to prolong the prosecution.

He later testified that he booked travel with Ms. Willis to California, Belize, and Aruba as well as a Caribbean cruse but said that Ms. Willis either reimbursed him in cash or covered other expenses. However, neither Mr. Wade for the district attorney provided evidence that she paid him via cash, saying he had no receipts—only his credit card statements.

And Mr. Wade, who was hired by the district attorney’s office in 2021 for the Trump case, spoke after a former friend and employee of Ms. Willis, Robin Yeartie, contradicted the timeline of the relationship the pair have presented to the court. Ms. Yeartie testified that their relationship began dating shortly after they met in 2019 and before Mr. Wade was hired.

But both Mr. Wade and Ms. Willis later testified that the relationship began early in 2022 while he was already working on the election probe.

A day later, on Feb. 17, state prosecutors announced in court that Ms. Willis wouldn’t testify after she confirmed that she would. No explanation was given.

Other Ethics Violations Claims

Earlier this month, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene filed an ethics complaint against the Fulton district attorney, writing on social media that her alleged “failure to disclose luxury vacations allegedly paid for by her secret boyfriend using taxpayer money is a scandal of epic proportions.”

“The Georgia Campaign Finance Act exists to ensure that public officials are transparent and open about their dealings, influences, and motivations. And that is exactly what Fani Willis has sought to avoid at every turn: transparency,” her complaint said. “Georgians have a right to know who exerts undue and unfair influence over their elected officials.”

The Georgia state Senate Republicans last month also introduced legislation to set up the Senate Special Committee on Investigations to look into misconduct allegations. Around the same time, Georgia state Rep. Charlice Byrd introduced a resolution to impeach the district attorney and claimed she used her public office for personal gain.

A group of several former prosecutors and lawyers, meanwhile, wrote that Ms. Willis does not have any special conflicts of interest in the case, filing an amicus brief in the case on Feb. 16.

“Disqualifying conflicts occur when a prosecutor’s previous representation of a defendant gives the prosecutor forbidden access to confidential information about the defendant or a conflict otherwise directly impacts fairness and due process owed a defendant,“ they wrote, adding, ”That kind of conflict is not at issue here.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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