Ethics Complaint against School Board Candidate

Ethics Complaint against School Board Candidate (Image 1)

An ethics complaint filed with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission late Tuesday alleges that David Simons, a candidate for board president of Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools, continued to act as a local government lobbyist to the school district as recently as three weeks ago and years after he stopped registering with the state as a lobbyist.

As its principal evidence, the complaint cites e-mails obtained through an open records request with Savannah-Chatham public schools, which a school district spokesman authenticated for WSAV News 3.

On April 16th — Simons writes to school superintendent Thomas Lockamy: “…per our discussion today, these are potential dates when Rives Worrell would like to sit down for coffee with you…”

Rives Worrell is a Savannah construction company and subsidiary of JE Dunn construction, who Simons admitted in a phone conversation with WSAV is a client of his political consulting firm.

In another e-mail the next day to Lockamy and the five caucasian members of the school board, Simons writes about the district’s commitment to directing construction contracts to minority and women-owned business enterprises in the selection of a contractor for a new Otis Brock Elementary School: “…this needs to end sooner than later where these unscrupulous minority contractors hold the school board and the legitimate contractors over a barrel.”

The ethics complaint also includes screen captures from Simons’ political consulting firm’s web site, which bills itself as “a group proactive, creative government affairs businesses,” while his web site bio touts his experience as a corporate lobbyist.

The complaint cites another web site section which promises services that can “defend against onerous legislation, secure appropriations or expand a business into uncharted waters,” all activities characterized by lobbying.

Simons has not registered as a lobbyist since 2011, according to the campaign finance commission web site registry of lobbyists.

The Georgia code defines lobbyist as “any natural person who, for compensation … is hired specifically to undertake influencing a public officer or state agency in the selection of a vendor to supply any goods or services to any state agency…”

Which is the crux of the complaint, which alleges: “Mr. Simons was acting as a lobbyist for the interest of another in approaching these officials.”

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