Georgia’s top candidates: Make harassment complaints publicly available

Georgia law doesn’t require the public release of sexual harassment complaints filed against lawmakers, or the taxpayer-funded settlements they may trigger. The leading candidates for Georgia governor want that changed.
Both the Democratic candidates for governor and each of the five top Republicans told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution they support expanding Georgia’s sunshine laws to disclose at least some sexual harassment complaints involving state lawmakers.

A complaint that rocked the Gold Dome was a reminder that this is no esoteric debate. A longtime lobbyist filed an ethics complaint in March accusing state Sen. David Shafer, a powerful Republican, of sexual harassment, and the report only came to light when the AJC independently obtained it.

The outside lawyer investigating the complaint recently submitted a report, also independently obtained by the AJC, that cast suspicion on the allegation. The Senate Ethics Committee dismissed the complaint Friday.

However, Shafer, a leading Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, was critical of the complaint becoming public, saying the allegations were false.

“As much as I am happy that my name has been cleared, the sad reality is this has taken away from the real suffering of actual victims of sexual harassment,” Shafer told reporters Friday. Read more…