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Villa Rica City Council votes to initiate investigation into allegations made against Mayor-Elect

In the final minutes of the final regularly scheduled meeting of the year for Villa Rica’s Mayor and City Council on Tuesday, city council voted unanimously to approve a resolution stating council’s intention to initiate an investigation into alleged inappropriate actions of former ward-three councilwoman and mayor-elect Leslie McPherson.

“On, or about December 12, 2023 – the mayor and council had become aware of information that former ward-3 council member Leslie McPherson may have violated the city charter, disclosing confidential information concerning the property, government, or affairs of the governmental body without proper authorization,” City Attorney David Mecklin read the proposed resolution back to council Tuesday evening. “This accusation arises from the alleged disclosure of confidential privileged information obtained by McPherson during an executive session for the purpose of discussing potential litigation pursuant to the attorney-client privilege provided by GA Code section 50-14-2(1).”

Several city officials have told WLBB Radio that McPherson was alleged to have shared documents that were only available via executive session with a Villa Rica resident who eventually filed a lawsuit against the city’s mayor, city council, J. Collins Funeral Home and others for the encroachment of their cemetery plot in Hillcrest Cemetery.

Mecklin says the city charter provides that no elected official shall knowingly disclose confidential information of the affairs of the governmental body without proper authorization.

There may be precedent for McPherson’s alleged actions, although she has yet to comment on the allegations. According to a recent article published by the Covington News in Georgia, David Hudson, a lawyer for the Georgia Press Association and an expert on Georgia’s open meetings and open records laws is quoted as saying: “If the public officer learns of something that occurs in a closed session that he or she believes should be known by the people to whom the public officer is a servant, there is no prohibition in Georgia law that would prevent such disclosure or subject the public officer to any measure of discipline.

The resolution approved on Tuesday calls on the city manager and city attorney to over-see the investigation by an outside authority – to investigate events surrounding the executive session of January 11, 2022.

Mecklin on Tuesday suggested that anyone proved to violate the section of the charter referring to sharing info from executive session meetings, shall upon conviction shall be guilty of malfeasance in office and shall be deemed to forfeit his or her office, shall be ineligible for appointment or election to or employment in city government for a period of three years thereafter.

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