On Monday the City of South Fulton’s Board of Ethics heard two complaints filed by resident Patricia Wise. Both cases, against Councilmembers Naeema Gilyard and Khalid Kamau, alleged financial impropriety.
Councilmember Gilyard came under fire when records of her purchase card spending were shared on social media. Last year she spent over $700 at Macy’s, Kohls, H&M, Victoria’s Secret and Forever 21 on holiday gifts for underprivileged students at local schools.
While Councilmember Gilyard maintains that she was within her right to use the purchase card for the items based on her interpretation of city policies, she’s since paid the money back. The Board of Ethics voted unanimously to dismiss the case against her. The complaint cannot be brought back before the board again.
Councilmember Khalid Kamau was accused of owing money to the city after leaving an economic development conference early. The event was held in Jekyll Island August 28-30, 2019 as Hurricane Dorian brewed.
According to Wise in her address to the ethics board, if Councilmember Kamau had not completed the conference, he should reimburse the city. In response, the councilmember told the board that he left the conference early due to a “hurricane evacuation warning” issued by Governor Brian Kemp on August 29. He says he attended approximately 75 percent of the training, the remainder of his hotel stay was refunded by The Westin and that he never received a request from the city’s finance department to pay back any remaining per diem funds.
The proceedings hit a snag seemingly because of contradictory dates and terminology. While Councilmember Kamau maintains that an evacuation order was issued on August 29, he may have confused the order with a state of emergency.
According to reports and Governor Brian Kemp’s executive order, a state of emergency was issued for August 29 during the conference. A mandatory evacuation was set for September 2 after the conference had concluded.
Councilmember Kamau confirmed that he was the only government official in attendance to leave the conference early and not complete the training. He said that he’d been advised by locals to leave early or risk being stuck on the interstate during the evacuation period.
The Board of Ethics expressed an interest in seeing additional evidence, including city policies, and an opportunity to question Chief Financial Officer Frank Milazi. They voted to move forward with a formal hearing in order to get more clarity about the complaint.
A date for the formal hearing has been set for March 2.
Editor’s Note: Story updated to reflect the date of the formal hearing.