State imposes fines on 2003 SPLOST fallout

By Justin Boron

The State Ethics Commission fined a promoter of the 2003 Clayton County special local option sales tax Friday for using government resources to campaign for the tax's approval.

The $500 in fines stems from fallout created by a complaint filed in May by Clayton County Libertarian Party Chairman Mark Mosley, who charged that Clayton County schools were involved in the distribution of pamphlets with the message "vote yes."

Georgia ethics code precludes government involvement in the promotion of proposed laws.

The commission ordered Lou Hisel, chairman of the Recreation and Roads 2003 Committee, to pay $250 from his personal funds.

Hisel must also cover an additional $250 fine charged to the committee over which he was chairman.

The fine met with little resistance from Hisel, who conceded the violation, calling it "a mistake."

"We did, through error, take some brochures to school for distribution," he said.

However, Hisel did protest the citation of his committee since he said it did not exist when the complaint was filed.

"The committee disbanded in Sept. 10, he said.

The chairman of the ethics commission, Sam G. Nicholson, expressed some sympathy but would not grant the reprieve.

"I don't really know what we can do," he said. "Maybe you can get the committee members to chip in."

The commission's actions against Hisel gratified the Libertarian complaintants, who opposed the approval of SPLOST.

"The people that are promoting bigger government will be a little more cautious about using government resources," Mosley said.

The citation also caused Hisel to remove himself from the recently formed Visions of Improving Clayton's Education System (VOICES.)

"I don't want to embarrass VOICES with anything that happened today," he said.