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Ethics complaint leveled against Amos
Amos Pete
Pete Amos - photo by Submitted
When you own as many properties as one Forsyth County commission candidate, it can be difficult to keep track of every detail.

District 1 hopeful Pete Amos responded this week to a lengthy complaint a Roswell woman filed June 16 with the State Ethics Commission, contending Amos did not, among other issues, accurately report his financial holdings.

Amos said Thursday that in his long history of doing business in the county it’s inevitable things can get overlooked.

“As someone who is not a career politician, I may have not reported everything correctly,” Amos said in a statement. “My opponents will argue I did this with malice — which is simply not true.

“I have contacted the State Ethics Commission and local voter registration office to make them aware that I have filed an amended financial disclosure statement. I accept responsibility for the possible oversight and blame no one but myself. My campaign is grounded in the belief that transparency leads to a healthy democracy.”

In her complaint to the ethics commission, Nydia Tisdale cites what she contends are multiple issues with Amos’ May 22 financial disclosure statement.

Tisdale said Wednesday that she filed the complaint because of the “information on the campaign disclosure financial statement that was missing.

“Questions were incomplete, had incomplete answers,” she said.

Amos’ wife, Catherine, who co-owns and operates many of the properties with him, filed an amendment to the original statement Monday, offering a more detailed disclosure.

Amos said he received the certified copy of the complaint Tuesday.

When Amos first ran for office in 2006, his campaign manager filled out the disclosures. His wife filled out his statements from 2010, though Pete Amos still signed both disclosures and said he accepts full responsibility for any missing information.

To clarify any information that should be added to the 2010 disclosure, Catherine Amos talked with ethics commission staff.

“This financial disclosure statement is much more difficult to fill out than a homestead exemption,” she said.

While the forms had not changed since 2006, Catherine Amos said commission staff recommended additional information. She ended up submitting two amendments to the original statement, adding more detail.

For example, Soma Properties and Slate Properties are two of five Pete Amos listed as businesses he owns. Catherine Amos said ethics commission staff recommended also including a list of all properties — totaling 67 — owned by both companies.

“Some people can say that omissions are violations, but it was not with any intent to omit anything at all,” said Catherine Amos. “It’s not that Slate Properties and Soma Properties owning these things is any big secret. I mean, It’s absolutely public record. Anybody can go and find it, so it’s not as though we were trying to hide anything.”

Pete Amos’ 2006 disclosure also lists properties involved with Catherine Amos’ family estate. That information was not included in the 2010 original statement, but was added to the amendment filed Monday.

While Catherine Amos is a beneficiary of her family’s estate, which includes Mashburn Holdings Inc. and Mashburn Farms LP, she does not hold or have ownership of the estate. Neither does her husband, she said.

“A lot of people love to link Pete with the Mashburn family business and that’s wrong because it has nothing to do [with it],” she said. “Pete’s only involvement is that he’s married to me.”

The ethics complaint also strays from the disclosure form and mentions that some of Pete Amos’ companies — Amos Plumbing and Electric Co. Inc., A&A Water Company LLC and Amos Properties Inc. — indicate he had not registered the corporation with the state in 2010.

Each business entity filed with the Secretary of State’s Office is required to file an annual registration and pay a $30 fee. There’s a $25 late fee if not paid by April 1 each year.

While he was a couple months late in 2010, he paid both the $30 registration and $25 late fee for the year.

Pete Amos also addressed recent unsubstantiated reports in the community — not included in Tisdale’s complaint — that suggest there are tax issues and liens with his companies.

The candidate said he has been late on paying taxes on some properties in the past, but has always paid them and any associated fees for being late.

“As soon as we find out about it, we paid it,” he said.

The property holdings list for Pete Amos is extensive. But while there have been more than a dozen liens associated with him, the majority were liens he took out against other businesses.

Those against him have all been resolved, he said, adding he is currently in good standing.

“We try to keep everything out there in the open,” Pete Amos said. “We go back a lot of years, and it is hard to keep up with everything that’s been done over 35 years.

“Any business has small mistakes that are corrected, but you catch it and correct it.”

Tisdale would not comment on why she had an interest in Forsyth County candidates, or her involvement in a county where she does not live.

However in 2009, Tisdale addressed the Forsyth County Planning Commission, speaking against a proposed rezoning request.

In e-mails previously sent to the Forsyth County News, Tisdale identified herself as managing director for Atlanta Road LLC.

The proposal was for a construction and demolition landfill in District 1.

Planning Commissioners Brant Meadows and Barry Russell made a motion to recommend the county commission deny the rezoning permit for the landfill. The planning board voted unanimously and later, the applicant removed its rezoning request.

Meadows is Amos’ lone opponent in the July 20 Republican primary for the District county commission post.

Tisdale said she did not contact the Amos campaign, saying it’s State Ethics Commission’s job to look further into the complaint.

Tom Plank, ethics commission attorney, said the complaint could be handled in several ways.

The next step will likely be a “preliminary hearing, where the commission will decide if there’s reasonable grounds that the act has been violated.”   

The complaint can be dismissed if there’s no violation, or it could go to an administrative hearing, where a violation would be determined and a penalty would be issued.

Intent plays a role in penalties, Plank said. The commission has a range of options, from asking to fix the mistakes to major fines.

Plank said the commission tends to look favorably on candidates that file amendments to address any complaints.

Pete Amos has 30 days to file a response with the commission from June 22, when he received the complaint. That deadline falls after the July 20 primary.