Ethics complaints dropped against Sen. McKoon - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Ethics complaints dropped against Sen. McKoon

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

There are new developments regarding the investigation into a Georgia Senator Josh McKoon, who was accused by three Muscogee School Board members of using his power to intimidate them.

On Wednesday, Senator McKoon held a press conference to announce that the ethics investigation in the Senate has ended and it was decided by authorities that he has done nothing wrong.  Furthermore, McKoon is looking into whether he should file a civil lawsuit against board members, Beth Harris, John Wells, and Athavia Senior, for damaging his reputation.

The three board members originally told the Senate and the G.B.I. that McKoon was guilty of ethics violations when he threatened that he could withhold additional state funding from the school district if they stayed with the same local law firm that currently operates under a no-bid contract.

"So, yes, I spoke to John Wells, but what I never said to anyone, is this notion that we were going to somehow tie the legal services contract to appropriations at the state level. I've been fighting for the children of Muscogee County since I got elected in 2010," said McKoon.

The Senator added that funding for school districts is not an item that he possesses the power to single-handedly withhold.

The Georgia Senate Ethics Committee reviewed the written testimony and "did not find reasonable grounds to believe that Senator McKoon engaged in improper conduct."

He believes the board members' motivations to initiate the claims are based in a desire to discredit his criticism of their spending policies.

Aside from the district's current no-bid contract with a law firm, the Senator has been a vocal opponent of several of the board's spending decisions, and Wednesday, he called to light an unrequired taxpayer-funded trip to San Diego that the board will take to meet with the National School Board Association.

"They're complaining about not having enough money, but there's enough money for them to go to San Diego for a week on my dime and your dime and that's just wrong," said McKoon.

One school board member said she agrees with the Senator's views regarding fiscal management.  Cathy Williams described the complaints made against Senator McKoon as a "petty witch hunt" and said creating the investigation was yet another misuse of public funds.

Williams said, "The charges were always unfounded and the complaints were laughable."

Williams was not part of the group who filed the complaints. She believes McKoon was targeted because of his vocal criticism of the board's spending policies.

"That's what's got me so upset. We deserve good government in Muscogee County, at the consolidated government and the board of education. For these folks to abdicate their public responsibility, and then try to blame those who are bringing it to the public's attention, is simply wrong," said McKoon.

Regardless of the details of the Senators encounters with board members, he says the matter was never worth investigating.

"Even if you believed everything in those complaints, which I very much dispute, nothing in those complaints allege a violation of the law. They don't even allege a violation of Senate rules. So, there's nothing to review there."

The Senator says he has never been contacted by the GBI about the status of an invesigation against him, and he expects it to never materialize.

News Leader Nine's Dante Renzulli made numerous attempts to contact the school board members involved, John Wells, Athavia Senior, and Beth Harris, but none have returned calls or e-mails.  Beth Harris said she would review the Senator's statements but she has not provided a response.

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