On Wednesday morning, the Dawsonville Ethics Board unanimously dismissed six allegations of ethical violations, which had been leveled against city councilman Mark French.
Following several hearings on the alleged ethics violations, including a written response made earlier this month by Abbott Hayes, a representative of city, and a rebuttal from French’s attorney Steven Leibel, the board motioned to dismiss the complaints, citing a lack of evidence as their reasoning for dismissal.
“Considering both complaints in totality, not just about them separately, we discovered in the emails that legal had already been consulted prior to Mr. French’s request that they then be consulted,” Ethics Board Member Shelly Martin said on Wednesday.
French was first brought before the board in December after complaints regarding an email exchange between French and city officials were brought up during a November city council meeting. Officials alleged that French directed City Manager Bob Bolz to consult with the city’s attorney to answer a legal question posed by a city resident and French’s employer, Steve Sanvi.
Three of the nine charges French faced were dismissed at the initial hearing.
But although the board ultimately chose to dismiss the charges, in a draft ruling submitted by attorney Joey Homans, the board rejected several of French’s contentions that the complaints which had been made against him were political and that board members were not sufficiently impartial.
“The Ethics Code does not bar a complaint approved by City Council against a council member or a council member against another council member or mayor,” the draft reads. “Therefore, Mr. French’s contention that the Complaint should be dismissed because the Complaint was submitted ‘solely for political purposes’ fails.”After an executive session and addressing French’s complaints, the board stated that based on information they had received they did not believe the complaints satisfied the conditions needed to move forward with a final hearing.