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Ethics complaint filed against Crotts

COVINGTON - The State Ethics Commission is investigating a complaint alleging that Republican State Senate candidate Mike Crotts has failed to file a personal financial disclosure report as required by law.

A complaint filed June 6 by Conyers resident Edens Davis states that Crotts is in violation of the Ethics in Government Act, which requires public disclosure of financial and business interests within 15 days of qualifying for office.

On Wednesday, McDonough resident Larry Stanley faxed a letter to the Ethics Commission requesting an investigation of Crotts on the same grounds.

"Since it has been nearly two months since the deadline has passed and the election is merely days away, I am requesting that your office look into this matter so that candidates that run for public office are held accountable," Stanley wrote in his letter. "The voters of the 17th Senate District deserve better from Mike Crotts. They deserve the opportunity, of which they are legally entitled, to review Mike Crotts' Personal Financial Disclosure. The people of the 17th Senate District deserve public officials who are accountable to the laws they are elected to uphold and respect them enough to abide by them."

Crotts could not be reached for comment.

Rick Thompson, secretary with the Ethics Commission, said Davis' complaint is under investigation and will be presented to the Ethics Commission at its next meeting Oct. 2.

If the commission finds the Ethics in Government Act was violated, it will extend an offer to Crotts to resolve the matter by consent order within 30 days. If the matter is not resolved, the Attorney General's Office will schedule a hearing before an administrative law judge, which would include presentation of evidence and testimony by witnesses.

"Complaints that have been resolved regarding personal financial disclosures have yielded some of the largest fines by the State Ethics Commission," Thompson said. The commission recently issued it's highest fine to date of $37,750.

Stanley's letter is not considered an official complaint, Thompson said, because it was sent via fax and was not notarized.

Stanley said he simply wanted the letter to go in Crotts' file and does not have plans to file an official complaint at this point. He said he was advised by the Ethics Commission that another complaint would simply be added to the one already on file.

"I'm an activist. This is what I do," Stanley said of why he sent the letter. "It's almost laughable. The guy had 12 years in the (state) Senate. He knows what must be done, and there's no reason for him not doing it."

Davis is a recent graduate of Oxford at Emory University, where he was heavily involved in politics. He said he began investigating Crotts after learning of his past violations related to financial disclosure.

"I've always been interested in the dark side of politics. He had problems with personal finances back then and I looked online and researched him and found out he hadn't (filed) again ... I just wanted to keep him honest," he said.

Crotts was fined $40,000 by the Federal Election Commission in 2004 for failing to disclose a personal contribution to his campaign for Congress. Crotts recently told the Citizen he is attempting to get his money back after the Supreme Court overturned the so-called "millionaire's amendment" under which he was penalized, but an FEC spokesman said the ruling is not retroactive and no refund will be granted.

A search of the State Ethics Commission Web site shows Crotts has been late in filing campaign and financial disclosure reports at least eight times since 2003.

Crotts is running against incumbent John Douglas, R-Social Circle, in Tuesday's Republican primary.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.