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Officials get more time to answer complaints
Extension stems from additional evidence
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Forsyth County News


Three Forsyth County commissioners have a little more time to respond to ethics complaints lodged against them last month by a former political candidate.

The Forsyth County Board of Ethics accepted additional evidence from Terry Sweeney during a meeting Thursday.

As a result, Commissioners Pete Amos, Patrick Bell and Brian Tam were granted an additional 30 days to respond to the allegations against them.

Sweeney, who filed the complaints April 7, contends the commissioners' presence on the same day and time in February at Cumming City Hall constitutes a quorum

As such, he maintains it's a violation of the Georgia Open Meetings Act because the five-member commission didn’t provide public notice or an agenda regarding the gathering.

The gathering of a quorum for a meeting without due public notice is a violation of the act.

Bell has said he was entering the building as Amos and Tam were leaving and that Commissioner Todd Levent arrived about 20 minutes later.

The commissioners were at the facility that day for separate and informal discussions with Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt about a possible referendum on extending the 1-cent sales tax, Bell has said.

No official action was taken during any of the discussions.

Jodi Gardner, county government spokeswoman, said a date has not been set for the ethics board to review the complaints and additional evidence.

No action was taken Thursday regarding the complaints.

Ethics board member Tim Perry recused himself from involvement regarding the complaint against Amos. The five-member panel chose Lorne Twiner, the Civil Service Board’s appointee, as an alternate for the matter.

In 2008, Sweeney ran for the District 5 post on the commission but fell short in the Republican primary.

He filed a complaint over the same matter with the Georgia Attorney General's Office.

In its response to the attorney general, the county has denied any violation of the open meetings act occurred, characterizing the incident at city hall as a chance encounter.