Fulton County DA Fani Willis: Board of Ethics will not hear complaints

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks during a news conference at the Fulton County Government building on August 14, 2023 in Atlanta. (Photo by Megan Varner/Getty Images)

Update: According to an amended meeting agenda for March 7, the Fulton County Board of Ethics will not be hearing the ethics complaints on March 7 filed against Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. The board reportedly determine that they don't have the authority to remove Willis because while she is a Fulton County employee, she is acting on behalf of the state on the election case. According to the new agenda, which was amended March 5, they will be hearing a complaint about Commissioner Marvin Arrington and a request for advisory opinion. 



The Fulton County Board of Ethics will discuss two ethics complaints against Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis during their March 7 meeting.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. The public is invited to attend in person at the Fulton County Government Center's Main Conference Room 4056 or they can watch on Zoom

The complaints were filed by Gregory Mantell and Steven Kramer after a motion was filed by a co-defendant of former President Donald Trump in the Georgia election interference case and knowledge of an alleged relationship between DA Willis and Special Prosecutor Nathan Wade became public. 


Michael Roman also accused Wade and Willis of profiting significantly from the prosecution of the case at the expense of taxpayers in his motion.

What the complaints say

Greg Mantell is the founder of the Substack blog Investigative News Service. According to Newsweek, he filed the complaint Jan. 27. Mantell reportedly asked for Willis' expense reports for 2021-2023 and all contracts and payments to Wade for the same years. He also requested records concerning $14.6 million in awards for the Department of Justice.

Timeline: Fulton County DA Fani Willis, Nathan Wade controversy

Mantell claims he was only provided with 2 of the employment contracts and his other requests were denied. In his complaint, Mantell said he believes the DA's office refused to provide the bulk of the records in an effort to cover up actions that have raised ethical issues.

The complaint filed by Steven Kramer contains a series of questions about the hiring of Wade, the relationship between Willis and Wade, Wade's compensation, money spent on dates and trips, possible hostile workplace for their co-workers, and better usage of money paid to Wade on items like reducing backlog of cases and number of inmates in jail. Kramer also questions the amount of money that is now being spent on dealing with the repercussions of their relationship -- an expense that may be borne by taxpayers like Kramer.

Kramer's complaint also asks the Board of Ethics to look into whether Willis used a subpoena of U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham to ask for campaign donations and diverted $488,000 targeted for the Center for Youth Empowerment and Gang Prevention and used the money instead on Macbooks, swag and travel.

Kramer's lengthy complaint then lists each section of Fulton County's ethics code he believes Willis violated and why. 

Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is a staunch Trump supporter, has also filed ethics complaints against Willis. She posted on social media that she was looking forward to the ethics board hearing.

The Board of Ethics will meet at 10 a.m. March 7.  The Board of Ethics will then render an opinion on whether Willis violated the county's ethic code. 

Wade and Willis deny any wrongdoing

Wade and Willis denied any wrongdoing during a drama-filled two-day hearing last week in Fulton County Superior Court Judge McAfee's courtroom. Willis was very defensive during her time on the stand and accused Roman's attorney of lying. Both Wade and Willis insisted they shared the expenses associated with their dates and trips. They also insisted their romantic relationship did not begin until well after Wade was hired as special prosecutor.

RELATED: Fulton County DA Fani Willis answers questions about relationship, money

What happens next?

Lawyers for both sides are expected back in court next week to present their summations or final arguments. Before then, Judge McAfee is supposed to meet with one of Roman's witnesses, Wade's former law partner Terrence Bradley, who reportedly has direct knowledge of when the relationship began. A source told FOX News that meeting is scheduled for Feb. 26. McAfee will most likely issue his ruling in writing after the summations.

RELATED: Judge in Trump Georgia case in 'unenviable position' as final arguments loom

What the experts think

Emory University School of Law Associate Professor John Acevedo told FOX 5 that the chances of Judge McAfee disqualifying Wade or Willis aren't huge because the defense hasn't been able to directly prove a direct benefit Willis had from employing Wade.

RELATED: Fulton County DA Fani Willis hearing: 'Just the beginning' of the drama, law professor says

Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, told FOX News that the court could force Wade and Willis to be set aside due to the appearance of impropriety. Turley said that it is "abundantly clear" that Wade and Willis are undermining the case and the office in their continuing in the case. 

What happens if they are not disqualified?

The defense lawyers will most likely file for a "certificate of review." This is a court filing that asks the judge if they can appeal his decision. If the judge says yes, it will go to the Court of Appeals. If the judge says no, then the lawyers will have to wait until the trial is over to file an appeal. 

What happens if they are disqualified?

If Willis and Wade are disqualified, the executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys' Council of Georgia will have to find another prosecutor. It would have to be someone who has the personnel and money to handle the case. Whoever takes over the case would be able to use the investigative work that has already been done. They will not have to start from the beginning. 

When is the trial for Trump and co-defendants?

A trial date has not been set at this time. Willis had been pushing for a date in August of this year. Trump has filed numerous motions in an attempt to have the case against him thrown out, including arguing that he has "presidential immunity."

Trump, Roman and 17 others were accused of trying to overturn his 2020 election loss in Georgia. They were indicted in August 2023. 

Four of Trump's co-defendants – Kenneth Chesebro, Sidney Powell, Jena Ellis and Scott Hall -- have already made plea deals with the Fulton County District Attorney's Office. Willis has been pushing for a trial date in August for Trump and the remaining defendants. The former president has pleaded not guilty to the 13 charges against him.