County BoC to request Attorney General’s Office investigate Sheriff’s Office’s Open Records actions


The Spalding County Board of Commissioners on Monday approved by a 4-0 vote a motion to request an investigation by the Georgia Attorney General’s Office to determine whether the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office violated Georgia’s Open Records Act following its administrative Internal Affairs investigation of David Gibson, the former captain of the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office Uniform Patrol Division.
Commissioner Gwen Flowers-Taylor made the motion that was later seconded by Commissioner Bart Miller. Commission Chairwoman Rita Johnson and Commissioner Don Hawbaker voted in favor of the measure. Commissioner Raymond Ray was absent from the meeting.
In addressing the commission, Flowers-Taylor said her motion is based upon concerns expressed by constituents.
“We have, as a board, made it clear to everyone that we’re a different constitutional branch than the Sheriff’s Department, however, most people identify everything that has to do with government with the Spalding County Board of Commissioners, so I just feel like as a Board, since we really don’t have any power, what we can do for the citizens is to ask the Attorney General to look and see if they feel that there’s a violation,” Flowers-Taylor said. “That way, the official people can say yes or no, and we’ll have an answer and anyone else who has a concern will have an answer…They can answer us that they don’t think that it’s a problem or they’ll look into it or whatever, but that should kind of take it off our plate. We’re really not involved, anyway, but, you know, just for the public’s sake.
In response to Flowers-Taylor’s motion, Spalding County Attorney Jim Fortune said, “We can certainly make the request for the Attorney General to do that. Of course, it’s discretionary with them whether or not they’ll do it, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to ask and perhaps they’ll do it and that will be great.”
Fortune said rather than himself, the request would need to come from the BoC chairwoman.
“At any point, it will put that concern to bed based on what their investigation says,” Flowers-Taylor said.
Flowers-Taylor first spoke on this issue during the BoC’s Sept. 24 meeting during which she cited newspaper reports and stated, “…my concern with that is there have been recorded phone conversations not only between Sheriff’s Office employees, but our staff – our legal representative, as well – that indicate that there was a violation of the Sunshine Act in that some of the records were withheld…”
Spalding County Sheriff Wendell Beam was present for the Oct. 19 Board of Commissioners meeting, but left moments after the motion to request an Attorney General’s Office investigation was approved.
Beam did not immediately respond to The Grip’s later request for comment.


  1. Kathy Noble says:

    I applaud the commissioners and especially Ms. Flowers-Taylor for proactively addressing this issue.

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