The City of Dawsonville Ethics Board met Friday, Dec. 20 to deliberate on the merit of nine ethics complaints brought against Dawsonville City Councilmember Mark French.
The complaints against French, which date back to a series of emails between French, Dawsonville City Manager Bob Bolz, and Mr. Steve Sanvi, a private citizen and resident of Dawsonville, allege that the councilmember abused his power by directing Bolz to consult with City Attorney Dana Miles to provide a legal opinion on the definition of “residency” for Mr. Sanvi.
During the hearing, the board read a written statement provided by Councilmember French, which served as a rebuttal to the complaints filed against him. The statement, which was also provided to Dawson County News, took argument with the allegations that French directed Bolz and Miles to form a “legal opinion,” instead claiming that French’s email, which used the phrase “consult with legal to draft an appropriate response” was intended to provide a quick answer and correct a situation in which a “legitimate concern of a resident had been brushed aside with no justification as to why.”
French, who is represented by local attorney Steven Leibel, further asserted that the City of Dawsonville had failed to serve him a copy of the complaint within the seven days, as required by the Ethics Ordinances.
Ab Hayes, a lawyer retained by the City of Dawsonville to handle this case, offered a solution of simply resubmitting the complaints as they were and serving them within the timetable. Hayes told the ethics board that he would consult with Leibel as to the best path for both parties moving forward.
French also added that he believed the entire ethics complaint is motivated by political gamesmanship.
“I have given much thought as to the motives of the other members of the Council in the filing of the complaint. In doing so, I am of the unwavering opinion it is based solely upon political motives and not upon any alleged improper action on my part. The Council is well aware of my support for another candidate in the recent Mayoral election. This fact combined with the sudden resignation of former Council Member Jason Power due to a residency issue is highly suspect in my mind.”
The board deliberated for roughly fifteen minutes before coming back to open session and delivering its verdict:
Complaints 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 9 met the criteria for moving forward and the board will hear arguments and evidence from both sides in Jan. 2020. Complaints 6, 7, and 8 were dismissed by the board.
Dawson County News will be updating this story as more information becomes available.