State Ethics to probe Proctor fine

By Cameron McWhirter

cmcwhirter@ajc.com

The State Ethics Commission launched an investigation Monday into whether a recently resigned commission member should finally pay a $1,000 fine levied against him in 2004.

Robert Proctor was appointed to the commission – which handles all ethics complaints for state government and elections — in January by  Rep. Mark Burkhalter (R-Johns Creek) during Burkhalter’s brief tenure as speaker. Proctor resigned Feb. 12, citing medical problems. He had just served one month on the panel and had never attended a commission meeting.

On Feb. 1, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Proctor never paid a $1,000 fine levied by the Ethics Commission in 2004 for failing to register as a lobbyist. Proctor said the order against him was never properly served notice of the fine, though he attended a hearing regarding the matter and met with an investigator. He argued since he had not been served with a certified letter, he did not have to pay the penalty. Officials on the commission at the time said they were sure they sent a letter, but at the time did not use certified mail. Notice of the fine has been posted on the commission’s Web site for years.

The commission asked the attorney general’s office and its own staff to investigate how exactly the fine it levied and whether the fine was still enforceable.

“Frankly,I don’t know the right answer,” said commission member William Jordan.

House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) will appoint Proctor’s replacement.

8 comments Add your comment

E. Lucy Date

February 15th, 2010
2:55 pm

Proctor’s ethics proceedings were governed by the Administrative Procedure Act (OCGA§ 50-13-1 et seq.), including the following provisions:

“Each agency shall maintain a properly indexed file of all decisions in contested cases, which file shall be open for public inspection with the exceptions provided in paragraph (4) of subsection (a) of Code Section 50-13-3. A copy of the decision or order and accompanying findings and conclusions shall be delivered or mailed promptly to each party or to his attorney of record.” OCGA § 50-13-17(b).

“No agency rule, order, or decision shall be valid or effective against any person or party nor may it be invoked by the agency for any purpose until it has been published or made available for public inspection as required in this Code section. This provision is not applicable in favor of any person or party who has actual knowledge thereof.” OCGA § 50-13-3(b).

According to these procedures, the order shall be published and open for public inspection. OCGA §50-13-17(b). The rules also require that a copy of the order “shall be delivered or mailed promptly to each party or to his attorney of record.” Finally, and most significantly, the rules provide that an order is effective if either: (a) it is published or made available for public inspection; or (b) the person or party has actual knowledge of it. OCGA § 50-13-3(b).

According to newspaper reports, the order was apparently served by mail and neither Proctor nor the attorney who represented him in the proceedings (i.e. Bradley Hutchins) has denied receiving the copy served by mail (i.e. one of the forms of service allowed by the statute). Under the rules, this should end the inquiry as to whether Proctor was bound, especially when Proctor has also admitted that for years he has had actual notice and knowledge of the order. To escape the consequences of ignoring his duties, Proctor claims that the Ethics Commission was required to effect personal service by a sheriff, and that its failure to do so means that the order has no effect. This is totally made up, and has no basis in the Administrative Procedure Act.

Every day that goes by, Proctor makes a conscious decision to thumb his nose at the Commission and the order that he has long known about.

§ 21-5-9. Penalties

Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, any person who knowingly fails to comply with or who knowingly violates this chapter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

Cutty

February 15th, 2010
4:27 pm

Sooooo, he was appointed to the same commission in which he was fined? This state is so backwards, its beyond funny.

Road Scholar

February 15th, 2010
4:57 pm

What other cases have slipped by? Who is in charge of the investigation/enforcement?

When will they ever investigate the Richardson “everyone knew about it” affair? What are we waiting for?

Liz

February 15th, 2010
10:08 pm

I hate to say it but if he was a black politician he would be the lead story on the news and calls for a criminal trial. Just amazed at the level of venom aimed at corrupt black political class but their white counterparts stories are buried. I say this to challenge the press to report and hold politicians to the same standards and not just aim at Atlanta, Dekalb, Clayton. Clearly corruption and mismanagement is at every level of government. If you just read the paper or watch local news you would think that blacks are bad corrupt politicians but whites politicians are free of curruption and serve with the highest integrity. Not!!! Everyone knows this is true too…but never say anything.

Lobaszo

February 15th, 2010
10:56 pm

E. Lucy Date above is absolutely right about the law. . Proctor is liable for that fine and his continued lobbying. It will be very interesting to see how the Ethics Commissions white washes this one. I agree with Liz about that if this had been a black person, the news media would have been all over it. Proctor is white, wealthy, went to Vanderbuilt and can direct money in the right direction and lots of it from his money laundering partners.
This certainly has placed the Ethics Commission in a peculiar light . . . creeps appointed to the commission, incomplete records, no records, no follow-up of cases, now lost is bearings on what to do.
They rules and regulations direct them to initiate Superior Court proceedings to get compliance to that order and charge him with a misdemeanor for playing games with the commission’s orders. As was said, he gave the rigid digit (digitus impudus) to the State Ethics Commissions and their “supposed laws.”
Proctor’s sponsor Mark Burkhalter is under ethics investigation too, prior to his take off to London for his new real estate job with his numerous new clients.
Smells like more money laundering to me.
The “sheeple” have grown to expect corruption in government and to accept it, as they see no alternative, and just try to get the least bad one for the job. No related education required. Just loyalty for the favor.
Deep hole. You can’t just blame it on the Baptists, anymore.

Joe

February 16th, 2010
2:22 pm

Legislators take away the Commission’s rule making authority and repeatedly slash the jurisdiction, budget and staff. Gee, I wonder why? The Commission gets THEM in trouble. They are slowly but surely trying to eliminate an entity that hinders their ability to remain corrupt. How can we let Legislators regulate a Commission that is supposed to regulate them?!?!?! Any attempt for an increase in jurisdiction is rejected before it hits the floor.
The website says the Commission has a sliver of jurisdiction – restricted to financial matters, who is contributing to politicians, the personal gain by a politician for passing a regulation or dismissing one and the disclosure of lobbyist spending. Any concerns regarding common decency, personal ethics and morals are dismissed. Who is supposed to address these??

Doctor Proctor

February 16th, 2010
9:05 pm

Mr. Proctor resigned in disgrace, claiming that he has a medical problem. And as his Doctor, I can confirm that this is true. Mr. Proctor has a condition that we doctors call “cranial-colonic insertion syndrome,” which means that his head is so far up his rear end that not even a doctor can help him.

Lobaszo

February 21st, 2010
8:35 pm

Proctor changed the name of his company and skipped out on the lease. He’s being sued for fraudulent conveyances by the leasing company for hundreds thousands of dollars. He just couldn’t pay that 10K plus rent anymore.
Mr. Proctor through Vesta Holdings scammed people for years out of their properties, especially, the old, the poor, black, and people who couldn’t defend themselves since he was backed by BANKATLANTIC in Florida that was busted for moneylaundering and had more money than they could spend that was deposited by those drug dealers. He was also slickster with Foxworthy, Inc. (Sham Company – Ron Bell ) in Atlanta that scammed properties. Now Mr. Bell and the fed’s are working out how much to pay on all that money that was laundered overseas, then brought on shore and spread around. The overseas route allowed them to “juice” some of our favorite public employees in Atlanta. You might just wonder how Tax Commissioner Arthur Ferdinand got that four hundred thousand dollars to pay FOXWORTHY, INC for that 70 acres in Palmetto. Now that’s another story, for another time.
You might try Ecclesiastes 9:11 for a real wake up call. I’d like to believe that karma got him.