Political Vine: The Insider's Source on Georgia Politics

Political Vine: The Insider's Source on Georgia Politics

The Political Vine is the home of political news, satire, rants, and rumors.

Questions Surface On Karen Handel’s SOS Administration…

by PV

Rumors have it that questions are beginning to surface regarding just how the Elections Division’s Office of the Inspector General was established under former Secretary of State Karen Handel’s administration, and whether aspects of it were legally operating under Georgia state statute.

PV Background: Prior to Handel’s administration, there was no “Office of the Inspector General” in the Secretary of State’s Elections Division. This was created, apparently, on the fly by Karen Handel when she took office in early 2007.

One other important thing to remember here: In 2003, when Governor Sonny Perdue took office, he established, by Executive Order, an office designated as the State Inspector General’s office. This office was created under the auspice of investigating allegations of government fraud and corruption within government agencies and departments. The “Office of Inspector General within the Secretary of State” is not connected in any way to the State IG’s office.

From here on out, to reduce confusion, PV will designate the IG’s office with the SoS to be “SOS-IG” and the State Inspector General’s office to be “SIG.”

PV has consulted with several Georgia attorneys who (on condition of anonymity) seem to believe that the SOS-OIG office itself may have been legally created…however one particular aspect of its operation may not be.

That questionable aspect is the employment of “Investigators” to look into complaints filed with the Secretary of State’s Elections Division and presented to the State Elections Board (“SEB”).

In PV’s research of O.C.G.A., we could only find one instance of “Investigators” being specifically authorized by state statute for the Secretary of State, and that instance is via OCGA 43-1-5, which only authorizes the use of investigators for the Professional Licensing Boards and that division’s director.

OCGA 43-1-5 states the following:

43-1-5. Investigators for professional licensing boards and office of division director

(a) Persons hired for the purpose of conducting investigations for the professional licensing boards shall be designated as investigators and any person so designated shall have all the powers of a peace officer of this state when engaged in the enforcement of this title or of any of the laws creating or related to the professional licensing boards. Such investigators shall be authorized, upon the written approval of the division director, notwithstanding Code Sections 16-11-126, 16-11-128, and 16-11-129, to carry firearms of a caliber not greater than the standard police .38 handgun.

(b) Any person designated as an investigator within the meaning of this Code section shall be considered to be a peace officer.

In PV’s review of Title 21 – Elections, we could locate no statutory authorization for the employment of “investigators.” So, from where did Handel get the legal authority to employ such personnel for carrying out these duties of investigating election complaints?

Additionally, there appears to have been no authorization requested or approved by the State Elections Board for the establishment of the SOS-IG office for the Elections Division.

Questions that need to be asked of the Secretary of State’s office are as follows:

1) Do the investigators who work for the SOS-IG carry firearms?
2) Are they sworn-in as law enforcement officers?
3) If the answer to #2 is “Yes,” what is the specific oath they swear to?
4) Do they have subpoena power?

5) Are there any written policies and/or procedures within the SoS’s Office of Inspector General that define exactly:

a) What the qualifications are to be an “investigator;”
b) How are “investigations” to be performed?
c) What kind of training is required to establish someone as an “investigator?”

PV will cover this more in depth as new information comes in.

2 Responses to “Questions Surface On Karen Handel’s SOS Administration…”

  1. Gene Wise Says:

    Who has suddenly decided that a Statewide Constitutional officer can’t hire personnel they consider necessary to best carry out the duties, within budget constraints.

  2. Bert Jones Says:

    It is just more manure to circumvent separation of powers, manipulate elections, and a serious waste of taxpayer money. The state is still corrupt from the top down and from one side to the other.

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