Political Insider

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Georgia GOP chief faces more legal trouble

The head of the Georgia GOP has reneged on more than $340,000 in outstanding legal fees owed to a law firm that’s representing him in a high-profile discrimination lawsuit, according to a legal complaint filed this month.

The Atlanta law firm Fisher & Phillips said in the complaint filed in Athens-Clarke County Superior Court that John Padgett refused to pay the fees he incurred after he was sued by former Georgia GOP employee Qiana Keith. In a lawsuit, Keith claimed the organization’s employees humiliated her and referred to her with a racial slur.

A Padgett spokesman declined to comment on pending litigation.

The lawsuit said Padgett hired Fisher & Phillips in July 2014 to represent him in the case, and that he – and not the Georgia GOP - agreed to be personally responsible for the cost of the case. (Padgett was initially named as a plaintiff in Keith's complaint but a judge removed him from it.) But it said he ignored monthly invoices the firm submitted to reimburse the expenses.

“Padgett has acted in bad faith, has been stubbornly litigious and has caused Fisher & Phillips unnecessary trouble and expense in collecting this amount,” read the complaint. Read it yourself below:

It’s at least the third legal complaint targeting Padgett since he took charge of the Georgia GOP in 2013.

A federal lawsuit filed in March 2015 by a former manager at his ambulance company accused him of regularly making “bigoted, racist and sexist commentary about employees” on the job and encouraging similar behavior from other white managers. It was dismissed with prejudice.

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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.