AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – A complaint is now filed accusing District Attorney Natalie Paine of violating the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Act.
“Any suggestion that this is a coordinated, ethical violation on our part it’s simply just not true,” said Paine.
The complaint alleges on September 2 a post was made to the Crimes Against the Vulnerable and Elderly or CAVE Task Force, Facebook page that encouraged people to keep Paine in office.
She explained, “It would be impossible to assign a value to that, which is what would be required to be in violation of a statute, but it’s certainly I would think is synonymous with me.”
The complaint claims CAVE gets funded by public resources and the post violates Georgia election code. But Paine says the task force doesn’t not receive any money from the government. The complaint was filed by local attorney, Samuel Meller.
“It’s just a desperate publicity stunt more or less. The claims that are being made by Mr. Meller are 100% false. But additionally, he is very close to the campaign for my opponent and this is just a coordinated publicity stunt,” said Paine.
Paine’s challenger in the November election, Jared Williams, said he and his campaign have no involvement with the complaint but it was made by someone who had volunteered for his campaign in the past.
“Yeah, I have a hundred or so volunteers that work with my campaign and we appreciate everything they’re doing because they understand that our kids belong in classrooms not courtrooms,” said Williams.
If the state determines the complaint has merit, then a preliminary hearing will be held.
“I don’t want any violation that she may of committed to hurt that program because I do believe in the CAVE task force. I do believe in the mission they have and I want to see it run better,” said Williams.
“I don’t know if it’s because CAVE has been so successful and perhaps that’s seen as something that is a potential weakness for my opposition but whatever it is, it’s just kind of irrelevant and kind of pathetic,” said Paine.
Williams added, “It’s something that was done by a private lawyer who had saw what he believes to be a violation and he called it out.”
Paine has 30 days to formally respond the the state ethics committee and she said she does not operate the CAVE task force Facebook page.