Senate investigative panel questions former Fulton County DA employee in Willis probe 

A former employee of Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who opened the election interference probe against former president Trump, testified Thursday before a Senate committee May 23 about her claims that Willis retaliated against her for reporting misappropriated grant money. Stanley Dunlap/Georgia Recorder

A former employee of Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis testified before a state Senate committee Thursday about her allegations that she was retaliated against for raising concerns about the potential misuse of federal funds for youth programs.

Amanda Timpson, former director of of Fulton County’s juvenile diversion program, testified Thursday that federal grant funds intended for gang prevention and youth empowerment programs were improperly used for other purposes, including buying expensive computer equipment and allowing out-of-state students to participate in a summer program designed for at-risk Fulton County students. 

Thursday was the fourth hearing for the Republican-led Senate Special Committee on Investigations. The panel was formed this year to investigate allegations of misconduct by Willis, including accusations of conflicts of interest and misuse of public funds. Thursday’s entire hearing focused on Timpson’s allegations. 

Timpson testified that she had tried to address these issues internally before filing a whistleblower complaint, but was met with hostility and retaliation from Willis and her staff. Timpson has a pending lawsuit in state court against Willis on allegations of wrongful termination. 

Willis has denied any wrongdoing and has said that Timpson is a former disgruntled employee who was fired because of poor job performance. A lawsuit filed by Timpson against Willis has been dismissed in federal court.

Willis, who easily fought off a Democratic primary challenger this week, has faced criticism for leading the investigation that resulted in former President Donald Trump and 18 others being indicted for allegedly conspiring to overturn the 2020 election. 

Timpson worked under former District Attorney Paul Howard as director of gang prevention and intervention before being hired to a similar position by Willis, who first entered office in January 2021.

Timpson assisted in writing grant applications for the Fulton DA’s office, including $488,564 for a gang prevention and youth empowerment center provided by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in October 2020. Another federal grant funded a juvenile diversion summer program for Atlanta and Fulton County middle school students to learn about the judicial and law enforcement system.

Quarterly reports are required for the grants to show how the funds are being used in accordance with program terms. Timpson argues she was told by a supervisor that money meant for youth programs would be used to pay for travel, office computers and other “swag” and that a youth program was expanded to students outside of Georgia, which Timpson said was contrary to the federal guidelines. 

Timpson said that when she raised concerns, she began being excluded from meetings and being treated poorly by a supervisor. She contends as retaliation she was put on a professional development plan and was personally attacked by a Willis aide. 

“I didn’t know if it was an intimidation factor or what was going on, but I just knew I had to stand my ground,” Timpson testified Thursday. 

Timpson said after feeling her complaints weren’t being handled appropriately after going up the chain of command, she decided to directly contact Willis. During a 2021 meeting with Willis, Timpson said she was quickly demoted to a file clerk position before being fired a couple months later. 

Sen. Harold Jones, an Augusta Democrat, questioned Timpson and her attorney about why publicly available information from the Fulton County website detailing the Office of Juvenile Delinquency Prevention grant was not included in evidence presented to the Senate committee before the meeting. 

Jones also questioned why Timpson was testifying when she was not involved in the Fulton DA’s investigation into 2020 presidential election interference.

“Y’all can litigate until your pants fall off. I’m not making an opinion about that one way or the other,” Jones said. “But what is incontrovertible is that there’s more information than this (one page) and no one can argue that.”

Sen. Bill Cowsert, an Athens Republican who chairs the special committee, has said Willis will be subpoenaed to testify before the committee. 

Willis has said she will refuse to testify before the committee, potentially leading to a legal battle over whether the legislative panel has the authority to force a constitutionally elected officer to testify. 

Willis, the first woman to be district attorney in Georgia’s most populated county, has faced increased scrutiny following the revelation in January about her previous romantic relationship with special prosecutor Nathan Wade, who she hired in 2021 to lead the investigation into Trump. 

The case against Trump and his 14 remaining co-defendants is currently on hold as the Georgia Court of Appeals reviews a ruling by Judge Scott McAfee from March, which allowed Willis to continue prosecuting despite calls for her resignation.

Attorneys representing Trump and the other defendants argue that the judge made a mistake by not disqualifying Willis from the case after she disclosed her romantic relationship with Wade, who resigned in March.


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