Political Insider

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Georgia ethics commission slapped with another lawsuit from ex-employee


A former attorney for Georgia's ethics commission filed a lawsuit against the watchdog agency where she once worked claiming her reputation has been permanently damaged by disparaging remarks by her ex-boss.

Elisabeth Murray-Obertein was a staff attorney for the state ethics commission who was a star witness in the trial that claimed the agency's then-director, Holly LaBerge, bragged that she made ethics complaints against Gov. Nathan Deal's 2010 campaign disappear. Deal has denied any wrongdoing and was cleared of major violations in those complaints.

Murray-Obertein, who left the agency in January, said Laberge made several "critical" comments about her to the media. Among them, she said LaBerge falsely told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Murray-Obertein "was not doing any work of any kind" because of substance abuse problems.

An attorney representing LaBerge, who was fired from the job in September, and the chairwoman of the state ethics agency did not immediately return emails seeking comment.

The lawsuit, filed in Fulton County Superior Court on Tuesday, claims that LaBerge's  "retaliatory public criticisms have prevented Ms. Murray-Obertein from securing new employment." It seeks compensatory damages and lost wages, as well as attorney's fees, from the state.

The state has already agreed to pay nearly $3 million to settle three lawsuits, and a threatened fourth, brought by former commission employees who claim they were fired or forced from office over the Deal investigation or its aftermath.

You can find a copy of Murray-Obertein's lawsuit here.


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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.