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Candidates contend with ethics complaints
Issue surfaces in District 3 contest
Levent Todd
Todd Levent - photo by Submitted
The state primary may be over, but two Forsyth County candidates are still contending with ethics complaints.

The State Ethics Commission has received one complaint each against Pete Amos, who won the Republican nomination for District 1 county commissioner, and District 3 commission hopeful Todd Levent.

Levent faces incumbent Jim Harrell in an Aug. 10 runoff for the District 3 commission post.

While the complaint against Amos contends he didn’t disclose enough details on his campaign filings, the issue with Levent appears to show that candidates can sometimes offer too much information.

The complaint against Levent, which was filed by Joseph Litton Jr. and made public Tuesday, contends the candidate’s actions contradict information on his financial disclosure statement.

“I don’t believe I did anything wrong,” Levent said. “You get paranoid. You know they’re going to make up everything they can, so I put everything on there and tried to make sure I didn’t miss anything.”

Levent received a copy of the complaint Thursday. He has 30 days to respond, though he doesn’t have to do so.

On his financial disclosure form filed in May, Levent listed eight businesses in which he has direct ownership or interest, but noted that he was in the process of dissolving three of them.

That information doesn’t appear to have been necessary, however Levent said he included it to be extra cautious.

In his complaint, Litton notes that Levent’s disclosure indicated he was dissolving the three companies, yet he renewed their annual registration with the state.

“He registered these companies, but yet he still went ahead and turned his financial disclosure statement saying he ... sold them or was closing them,” Litton said.

“If somebody is going to be a commissioner, I feel they should be squeaky clean.”

But Levent, who renewed his annual registration with the state the same day he filed his campaign finance report, said he followed the law.

“You have to stay in good standing with the secretary of state before you can dissolve, which means you have to have them renewed,” Levent said. “So what the law requires is what I did.”

Levent said he has made arrangements with his CPA to dissolve the three companies — First Choice Building Supply Inc., Jared Levent Properties LLC and Alexandria Levent Properties LLC.

Levent and Harrell finished ahead of opponents Josh Shorr and Mark Venco in Tuesday’s primary, with Levent the top vote-getter. There are no Democrats running in November, so the Harrell-Levent winner claims the seat.

Litton, who supported Venco and contributed $100 to his campaign, said he did not contact Levent about the complaint.

He also noted Levent’s disclosure says he sold First Choice in September 2006, but still renewed the business corporation with the state.

“I sold the property and the building and everything. I didn’t sell the corporation,” Levent said. “There’s been no action with it and now’s the time to dissolve it.”

Still, Litton said he wants to know “why didn’t he change his financial disclosure form to reflect that, in fact, he had reregistered these companies? That’s all I’m saying.”

“Let the ethics board decide whether it’s ethical or not,” Litton said. “I didn’t like what I saw and that’s why I filed the complaint.”

While Levent’s additional information caused confusion, Amos had the opposite problem. He listed all his businesses, but didn’t include each individual property the businesses owned.

His wife Catherine, who filled out the disclosure statement, said she filed an amended statement including the dozens of properties before the complaint was even made with the ethics commission.

The complaint was filed by a Roswell woman. While the ethics commission has not set a date to review the matter, Catherine Amos said she expects it will not make it to a hearing.

“The complaint was bogus to begin with because the manner in which it was filled out was correct to our knowledge,” she said. “It had not been clear to us that holding companies had to list individual properties.

“The amended statement stands by itself and it is correct and true to our knowledge.”

Amos defeated Brant Meadows in Tuesday’s primary. He will face Democrat Mary Chatfield in the Nov. 2 general election.

Levent said he’s confident when his complaint is reviewed by the state ethics commission, they will find he did nothing wrong.

“I’m just a clean guy,” he said. “It is what it is. They’re trying to discredit me, that’s all.”