The Fox is Guarding the Henhouse

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The Fox is Guarding the Henhouse

Last week, the Insider pointed out how several folks in Columbia County are completely baffled by the fact that Commissioner Charles Allen Jr., the husband of Tax Commissioner Kay Allen, is still serving on the board.

The FBI has been conducting a joint investigation with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office for the past several months to find out whether his wife has been improperly profiting from contracts to collect taxes for Harlem and Grovetown and he is still a sitting county commissioner?

He is currently attending legal meetings discussing personnel matters and voting on financial issues facing the county.

How is that possible?

His wife sits accused of fleecing the taxpayers out of thousands and thousands of dollars.

Now, obviously, Kay Allen has not been charged with anything criminal and she still currently maintains her position as tax commissioner, but she is under investigation by apparently not just one, but two federal law enforcement agencies.

That is beyond serious business and just because her husband recused himself from voting on whether the Columbia County Commission should send Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal a letter a few weeks ago asking him to look into alleged misconduct by Kay Allen, that doesn’t mean a thing.

If he is sitting in on closed-door legal meetings discussing any aspect of this investigation, that should be deemed unethical and a violation of his oath in office.

He should do the honorable thing and step down from office. If nothing else, he should at least take a leave of absence until the investigation of his wife is completed.

After all, if he is privy to any of the board’s private conversations on this matter or any legal advice provided to the commission, what makes anyone think he wouldn’t share that information with his wife as soon as he gets home.

The entire idea is ludicrous.

The Columbia County Commission has stated if the accusations against Allen are accurate, it is clearly in violation of a 2007 amendment to Georgia law which stated, “The governing authority, not the tax commissioner, may contract with municipalities to accept, receive and retain compensation if the county had more than 50,000 parcels.”

The board acknowledged that Columbia County met that threshold in 2009.

And commissioners also admit that Kay Allen was made aware of the change in law in 2007 at a state training conducted by the Georgia Department of Revenue.

That’s enough for both of the Allens to, at the very least, take a leave of absence.

Insiders say that some commissioners are extremely uncomfortable with having Charles Allen Jr. serving on the board.

Prior to the board’s special called meeting on Dec. 23 to discuss sending the governor the letter regarding Kay Allen, there were rumors of raised voices and not so “Columbia County” language coming from a closed-door meeting among commissioners.

It is also amazing to believe that Kay Allen is still serving, in at least some capacity, as tax commissioner while this investigation is ongoing.

Let’s face it, Kay Allen is known to be an intimidating bully. What more evidence does Columbia County residents need than her treatment of Chief Deputy Tax Commissioner Dwight Johnson in his final days under her employment when she ordered him to “report to Kroger” for eight hours?

If she is still working in the office and has her hands on those records, she has the ability to inflict her will on that staff.

Those are the same people who could potentially be called to testify against her if she is charged with any crimes.

The Columbia County Commission clearly stated in the letter to Deal the following: “Elected constitutional officials are given almost unlimited powers in the performance of their duties without oversight from this or any other body. Our auditors constantly review written records of all county funds but it is impossible where no records exist.”

The board is basically saying she has absolute power over that office.

So, if her actions regarding that office are under investigation by federal authorities, isn’t it common sense that she should not be allowed to step foot into that office until the investigation is completed?

Whether she is a constitutional officer or not, Columbia County commissioners should demand that she hand over her keys to the office until the investigation is over.

Otherwise, Kay Allen will most certainly be viewed by most citizens of Columbia County as the fox guarding the henhouse and her husband is the cowardly vulture circling above in the sky.