Summary of Advisory Opinion 15

Summary of Advisory Opinion 15; Complaint of Dave Carlson Regarding an Ethical Violation Against Commissioner Elaine Boyer and Attorney Lisa Chang > February 19, 2013

Facts

Lisa Chang is former County Attorney for DeKalb County. Elaine Boyer is a member of the Board of Commissioners for DeKalb County, and Dave Carlson is her former web designer. Lisa Chang, acting on an indirect investigative instruction, made inquiry of Mr. Carlson regarding the ownership and control of websites which might come under the auspices of DeKalb County in its regular conduct of the business of posting the Commissioner’s execution of duties for and on behalf of the then sitting Commission for DeKalb County.

Issue

The DeKalb County Board of Ethics met February 19, 2013 concerning complaint of Dave Carlson against Commissioner Elaine Boyer and Attorney Lisa Chang regarding an ethical violation. Mr. Carlson alleges:

  1. Commissioner Boyer gave a reasonable and rational impression that she enjoyed favor with the Department of Law.
  2. County Attorney Lisa Chang made threatening or intimidating remarks to him.

Conclusion

The Board of Ethics did not find sufficient evidence that Commissioner Boyer gave a reasonable and rational impression that she enjoyed favor with the Department of Law. In fact, the Board voted that the evidence did not sufficiently demonstrate a nexus between the acts or omissions of Commissioner Boyer in the initiation, supervision or control over Attorney Chang or the Department of Law investigation.

Discussion

The Code of Ethics prohibits any member of the governing authority from conduct which gives reasonable basis for the impression that any person can improperly influence him or unduly enjoy his favor in the performance of his official acts or actions. §22A(c)(1). The Code, moreover, prohibits any member of the governing authority from directly requesting, receiving, or agreeing to receive a gift for himself or another person if it tends to influence him in the discharge of his official duties or if he is now or may be in the near future involved in any official act or action directly affecting the donor or lender. §22A(c)(2)(A)(i)(ii).