Whistleblower appears before senate committee investigating Fani Willis

The Senate Special Committee on Investigations held its fourth meeting on Thursday to hear testimony as part of its probe into possible misconduct by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.

The committee, chaired by Republican state Sen. Bill Cowsert, was established to probe potential conflicts of interest and allegations that Willis' office misused federal and state grants. The findings of this investigation will inform legislative actions, including the enactment or amendment of laws and adjustments to state appropriations, aimed at restoring public confidence as deemed necessary.

In Thursday's hearing, the committee examined sworn testimony from Amanda Timpson, a former employee with the district attorney's office who claims she was demoted and then fired after trying to stop employees from using a federal grant meant for the creation of a Center of Youth Empowerment and Gang Prevention for travel, computers and "swag."

Whistleblower Amanda Timpson says she was abruptly fired when she would not go along with the illegal use of the money. She claims the office misused federal grant money.

"I'm here today to fight for my reputation, to fight for the youth but also to fight for what's right," Amanda Timpson said.  

"In this meeting, this was the first time on what he (Miachel Cuffey) wanted to spend the grant on. He said he wanted to spend it on computers, travel and swag," Timpson said about a meeting with her then-supervisor, Michael Cuffey 

Timpson claims she worked to get the grant for the department under the direction of dormer DA Paul Howard. When Willis was elected, she says her team wanted the money for equipment, travel and swag. She claims all of it is illegal and directly outlawed in the terms of the grant.  

"As I persisted that it is not what we could do that's when I realized my treatment changed," Timpson said.  

Timpson also says many so-called "at-risk youth" in the program were not at-risk or even a resident of the county or state. She claims the more she pushed back the more retaliation she received, including a demotion.  

"She (Willis) said something like, 'What's going on?' And when I went to speak, she cut me off and she said, 'Effective immediately you're going to be removed and demoted," Timpson explained.  

Timpson claims she went up to Human Resources and other departments to say what was happening and she was ultimately fired and walked out by seven armed investigators.  

The hearing comes days after Willis decisively won her primary election against a Democratic challenger. She will now face Republican challenger Courtney Kramer in the general election in November.

"I have been under constant attack. They have called me everything but a child of God," Willis said during her victory speech. "They challenge me on my budget, but I say all the time I rather see them in the classroom than the courtroom." 

Those senators against the formation of the committee fought back during the hearing saying the testimony has nothing to do with their investigation. One called Timpson a "Republican political pawn." 

"At this point, it's becoming frustrating because we are wasting time of senators and Georgians but people all over this country," one Democratic senator said.  

Committee chair, Republican Bill Cowsert, says he's still waiting for DA Willis to accept their invitation to testify and says they will subpoena if necessary.  

Willis has previously said she would not appear before the Republican-led committee, telling FOX 5's Rob DiRienzo that Cowsert couldn't subpoena her.

"I will not appear to anything that is unlawful, and I have not broken the law," she said. "I’ve said it amongst these leaders, I’m sorry folks get pissed off that everybody gets treated equally."

"She said as recently as this morning, nobody is above the law. She is saying this out of one side of her mouth and out the other she is saying 'I am above the law. I will not comply," Sen. Cowsert said. 

What led to the Fani Willis probe

In January, Willis was accused by one of the defendants in the Georgia election interference case of maintaining an inappropriate relationship with former special prosecutor Nathan Wade. Additionally, she was alleged to have financially benefited from this relationship and the investigation into former President Donald Trump and his associates for their purported interference in the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.

Following three months of contention and multiple days of testimony, Fulton County Superior Court Judge McAfee ruled that either Willis or Wade must step aside for the case to proceed in Fulton County. Wade tendered his resignation shortly thereafter.

Timeline: Fulton County DA Fani Willis, Nathan Wade controversy 

Throughout the ordeal, neither Willis nor Wade admitted any wrongdoing.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis listens during the final arguments in her disqualification hearing at the Fulton County Courthouse on March 1, 2024, in Atlanta. (Photo by ALEX SLITZ/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Special committee approved 

The Georgia Senate authorized the formation of the special committee to investigate Willis on Jan. 26, with the inaugural meeting held on Feb. 9.

On March 6, attorney Ashley Merchant, representing the defendant who initially raised concerns about Willis, testified for over three hours regarding how she and her client uncovered the relationship between Willis and Wade and why they believed it to be unethical and potentially criminal.

RELATED: Attorney Ashleigh Merchant testifies before senate committee investigating Fani Willis 

In the most recent meeting, the panel interviewed Fulton County Commissioner Robb Pitts and Fulton County Chief Financial Officer Sharon Whittmore. 

Thursday's session is open to the public and will be livestreamed.