HomeOpinionEditorialsEditorial: State Sen. Harold Jones lack of transparency alarming

Editorial: State Sen. Harold Jones lack of transparency alarming



(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Augusta Press.) 

The separation of powers in government is one of the bedrocks of American government.

As James Madison observed in The Federalist Papers No. 51 in 1788, “The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive and judicia[l] in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self–appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”

State Sen. Harold Jones recent actions should be alarming to all Georgians who believe in the principle of separation of powers.

Jones, in a phone interview, refused to answer the most basic questions about his new government employment. As an elected official, that alone is alarming, and there is no worthwhile excuse that Jones can offer to justify the secrecy on his end.

Outside of the secrecy, what is also alarming is the disregard for separation of powers. Jones is elected to the legislative branch and now has been employed by the judicial branch. The separation exists to provide checks and balances between each individual branch of government. 

Perhaps Jones was absent from law school the day they taught on the separation of powers. We don’t know because Jones isn’t answering any questions.

What elected official refuses to answer questions from those who elected them? What elected official refuses to disclose what his or her job is, how he or she got the job and what he or she is paid when that job was procured because of their elected office.

At best, Jones is “double dipping” by accepting state funds for an elected position and accepting city funds for a position that has no discernable job description.

Making matters even worse, city lawyer Wayne Brown violated the Open Records Act by refusing to provide basic information to the press when requested. The request for information was routed to the city human resource department where it was quickly rerouted to Brown who responded that the city was not the custodian of documents related to Jones.

It has since been confirmed that Jones, who is paid by the city, does in fact have records in the city possession, yet Brown still has refused to comply and produce them.

If Jones continues to refuse to answer questions he should run out of office by his constituents. The state legislature needs to determine whether an ethics violation has occurred and whether Jones’ financial gain on the backs of taxpayers while serving in elected office is a conflict of interest. Perhaps that complaint cold be taken to the state ethics committee of which Jones is the secretary, according to the state senate website.

Lastly, The Augusta PRESS is going to remain a thorn in the city attorney’s eyes until he either stops ignoring the sunshine laws or resigns. Either way, this newspaper will do all it can to ensure the city follows the Open Records Act. Lack of transparency and secrecy by city departments are issues the Augusta-Richmond County Commission need to examine closely.

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  1. I have always said the reason most people commit crimes is because they think they will never get caught. You can lump murders and white collar crime in this category. But with the computer generated data it comes full circle. Money is the root of all evil it has been quoted and this happens over and over again. And the end result far is worse than that money they acquired for a period of time. Your reputation is worth so much more.

    • no. the issue is that jones is working for both the legislative and judicial branch at same time. he just got a job in jan with the courts and will not discuss what he is doing in that role. yes someone was in that job with the courts before but they were not an elected official.

  2. How do you refuse to answer questions when you are supposed to be working for the people of Georgia who pay you? Keep digging Augusta Press. You seem to be the only paper willing to ask questions and expose the corruption.

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