DeKalb County Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton says she committed no wrongdoing in using county discretionary funds to pay Warren Mosby for consulting work he performed for her office.
The county, she said, does not forbid commissioners from using their discretionary budgets from paying acquaintances for work. She said she received no kickbacks from Mosby, which would have been illegal.
Sutton spoke with On Common Ground News this week after coming under fire by local media for paying $34,000 to Mosby with whom she had a romantic relationship. News reports surfaced about the money Sutton paid Mosby this week after Elaine Boyer abruptly resigned as the longest-serving DeKalb County Commissioner. Boyer is facing federal charges for allegedly paying an advisor tens of thousands of dollars for work he did not do and then funneling a large portion of the money back to Boyer.
Sutton said she paid Mosby for work he performed and never received compensation from him as a result of his contract.
“There are no rules that say there’s anything wrong or illegal with using discretionary funds to pay someone you know for performing work related to a commission district,” said Sutton, who represents District 4. “He was very well qualified for the work that he did for my office.”
Sutton said that Mosby performed several tasks over the 2 1/2-year period she paid Mosby’s two companies, HSI Systems & Consultants and RighThink Associates, for consulting. Mosby, she said, is a well-known political consultant who comes from a family of public figures. His brother, Howard Mosby, is a state representative. His brother, David Mosby, serves on the Oak Ridge, Tennessee City Council. His sister, Natalyn Mosby Archibong, serves as an elected member on the Atlanta City Council. His father, the late Nathaniel "Nate" Mosby, served as the second African American elected to the DeKalb County Commission.
Warren Mosby had served as Sutton’s campaign manager when she was running for office. After she was elected, she contracted with him for consulting work.
“I continued to work with him just as many, if not most, elected officials do with the people that helped get them elected. They hire the people who have worked with their campaigns because they are knowledgeable and they trust them,” Sutton said. “I trusted him and considered him to be very knowledgeable. He attended meetings with me, did research, developed literature and outreach programming, and performed a number of tasks during my first 2 ½ years in office. He was practically a fixture at County Commission meetings.”
Sutton said each commissioner has a budget of about $265,000 a year. The money may be used to staff their offices, pay for supplies, equipment, consultants, travel and other expenditures related to constituent services. She said commissioners may spend up to $40,000 a year for consulting and professional services.
South DeKalb community activist Viola Davis, who has filed ethics complaints against Sutton, says officials must continue to probe elected officials’ expenditures.
“Sharon Barnes Sutton has often complained that the ethics complaints were or are frivolous and political. However, we will let the evidence and fact that have been brought to life speak for themselves,” Davis said in a statement released to the media this week.
Sutton said she has been a target of Davis every since Davis ran against her and lost in 2008.
“It is very disheartening to know that as the only African American female on the Board of Commissioners, I’m being held to a level of scrutiny that none of the men have ever been held up to,” Sutton said.