(Editor’s Note: This is the mayor’s full statement without any edits)
The Ethic’s Commission made one vote today, finding probable cause to allow further investigation of whether I participated with an unregistered Ballot Committee that should have filed required Disclosures. I vehemently disagree with the Commission’s vote. The billboards were purchased by Cardinale Management, the owner of the Regency Mall property. I am disappointed that the Commission found probable cause even though they acknowledged that there was no obligation to register a Ballot Committee or to file disclosures if the Billboards were purchased by an individual or corporation, as they were in this matter.
The billboards that we are talking about four years later have a signed contract by the owner of the Regency Mall, and I am now held responsible for their action because the Ethics Commission has not been able to make contact with Cardinale Management. If you listened to today’s hearing, the Commission’s attorneys admitted that they had no evidence that Mayor Hardie Davis or Tonia Gibbons participated in a Dark Money Ballot Committee.
It is important to note that the Ethics Commission also voted against a probable cause finding against Tonia Gibbons, whose name was included on the Complaint because she was copied on the lone email stream that I regrettably responded to. Were it not for that email, I do not believe that either Tonia Gibbons or I would have been included in the Concerned Citizens of Richmond County Complaint.
Regarding the second matter before the Ethics Commission, no second vote was required because I consented to probable cause as to the Complaint alleging late filing and improper use of campaign funds. I elected to do so because I want the opportunity to make sure that the Commission understands that mistakes made were of minimal consequence and that all of the filings have been corrected and filed.