Boyer facing ethics probe over debit card use

Ken Watts | 4/11/2014, 6:27 a.m.

The DeKalb Ethics Board will hear a complaint filed against District 1 Commissioner Elaine Boyer and her use of the county’s debit card for personal purchases at its May 8 meeting.

Whistleblowers Thomas Owens of Doraville and Joseph Newton of Norcross filed the complaint on April 3. Restore DeKalb, a community watchdog group is a signer on the complaint and is offering its support said member Viola Davis.

Boyer, who has served on the Board of Commissioners for 20 years, admitted March 25 that she made $12,000 of personal purchases on her county-issued Visa debit card. Her longtime Chief of Staff Bob Lundsten also is named in the complaint.

Newton said they included Lundsten in the complaint because he not only put too many meal charges on his card, but he appears to have used it for personal auto repair.

Boyer announced on April 4 that she and Lundsten will temporarily stop using the Visa cards.

“Effective immediately, I am ordering a suspension of all P-card use by my office,” she said in a written statement. “Neither I nor any of my staff will use a P-card for any expenses whatsoever until the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners has adopted a clear policy for permissible use of the county P-cards.”

But the ethics complaint doesn’t just target Boyer and Lundsten. It calls for an investigation into county debit card use by all the commissioners.

Joel Edwards, vice president of the Kings Ridge Neighborhood Association and a Restore DeKalb member, said Thursday that citizens have to be able to trust their elected officials.

“The decisions they make impact all of us in the county, and if they’ve done something wrong, they should pay the consequences,” he said.

Ethics Board member Isaac Blythers said last week that although the board will take up the complaint at its May meeting, the group will not schedule a hearing on the complaint until June at the earliest.

Boyer, who is the BOC’s longest-serving commissioner, had built a reputation as a fiscal conservative who favors cutting government spending. But an Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation showed that between 2011 and 2013, she made 52 personal charges totaling $12,000 that include meals, rental cars, and airline tickets to a Colorado ski resort in 2012 and 2013.

Boyer said that she had repaid two-thirds of it before the newspaper came calling and paid back $4,083 this year.