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FBI looking into ethics scandal with ties to governor

Special to SEGAZINE

 Channel 2 Action News has learned a state ethics scandal with alleged ties to Gov. Nathan Deal’s office is now under federal investigation.

An attorney, who represents current ethics commission staff attorney Elisabeth Murray-Obertein, said she has already spoken with FBI agents. Brian Sutherland would not disclose the nature of the questions agents asked his client.

Murray-Obertein previously told Channel 2 Action News she believes an ethics commission case against the governor was mishandled by her boss, Holly LaBerge.

“I noticed some irregularities,” Murray-Obertein said of the Deal case.

Murray-Obertein alleged in depositions that LaBerge bragged about making the governor’s ethics problems go away, and that he owed her.

“I killed myself working that case and it was for nothing, because she was meeting behind closed doors with the governor’s people and apparently everything I did was meaningless,” Murray-Obertein said.

Former ethics commission computer specialist John Hair told Channel 2 investigative reporter he also heard LaBerge’s statements about helping the governor and that her relationship with the governor’s office seemed “cozy.”

He said he initially did what LaBerge and her secretary, Lisa Dentler, directed.

“They asked me to alter some of Gov. Deal’s documents,” Hair said, “They were asking me to manipulate records. Plain and simple.”

Hair said he altered documents dozens of times, removing certain paragraphs and merging sections of spreadsheets together to replace certain information.

He said LaBerge had him use her personal email address and a separate computer drive to keep records hidden from the public.

The ethics commission eventually settled the complaints against the governor for $3,350, far less than the $70,000 originally proposed by Murray-Obertein.

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