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Watchdog leader chides Snellville official for owing back taxes

SNELLVILLE — During a somewhat heated press conference on Friday, the leader of a government ethics watchdog group confronted a Snellville official about the money he owes on state back taxes.

Mayor Pro-Tem Tom Witts remained silent while Ethics in Government Group Director George Anderson of Rome, Ga., chided the man for not disclosing that he owed more than $28,000 to the state when he has sworn in as a city councilman in 2009.

On May 30, Anderson filed an ethics complaint against Witts with the city of Snellville, the Office of the Governor and the Campaign Finance Commission. Anderson said he also filed an ethics complaint against Snellville’s Chief Municipal Court Judge Mark Layng for swearing Witts in as a city councilman in 2009.

“In your oath of office, it states that you are not the holder of any unaccountable funds due to the state of Georgia,” Anderson said Friday, addressing Witts and a small group gathered inside City Hall. “You knew at the time when you took that oath of office that that was a falsehood.”

As Anderson’s accusations grew more pointed and personal, Witts and many of his supporters walked out of the press conference.

Following the press conference, Witts explained that he does indeed owe taxes but he’s “diligently working” to pay them off.

“The back taxes are an amount owed for a 401K disbursement from 2007 that came about because my wife and I had a loan on our 401K,” Witts said. “When my wife was laid off, we had 60 days to either pay off the loan or take it as a disbursement. We took it as a disbursement, declared it on our taxes and I am paying back the taxes and penalties basically from borrowing money from myself.”

Witts added that it was an attempt to keep his disaster restoration business, Georgia Property Restoration, going and not have to lay off his employees.

Anderson said he was “concerned for the citizens of Snellville.”

“It’s important to have citizens willing to step up to the plate and be elected officials in these tough economic times,” Anderson said. “But you’ve got to take care of your own personal economic situation first.”

Witts said he never tried to hide the fact that he owed on taxes.

“I made an announcement during a city council meeting about this, because rumors were circulating,” Witts said. “I have explained it before. I have nothing to hide.”

Layng, who was also named on Anderson’s complaint, said that Witts’ “tax issue is public record. Whether he owed those taxes at the time of his swearing in, I don’t know, but he’s a good person. And just because you owe taxes, it shouldn’t disenfranchse you from serving the public.”

Comments

roaads1 1 year, 10 months ago

I know Tom Witts personally. He is an honorable man with great integrity. He loves Snellville more than anyone I know that ever held an official position there. He didn't try to make money from his position like so many we have heard about lately. He owes taxes. That's all this guy can complain about. He can still honor his oath and owe taxes. He's not running from them. I certainly hope no one listens to this blowhard spreading crap about Mr Witts. Makes me sick.

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CD 1 year, 10 months ago

It's difficult for me to attack a Nam vet. If this really is the whole story then he needs to get this fixed ASAP and continue forward.

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Karl 1 year, 10 months ago

@CD

You and I have disagreed here several times before (the latest today on the CID tax) but please listen to me on this. George Anderson is a mercenary paid by a few lifelong Democrats in Snellville who lost in the last city elections. Tom is up for re-election next year and they wanted to be able to use "Witts has had ethics complaints filed against him" as their rallying cry.

Tom is a great man. Re-read the reason he is paying the state for withdrawing money from his 401k--to get his company through some lean times and keep his employees in a paycheck.

The key word is 'unaccountable' funds. The funds were always accounted for and there is a payment plan ongoing.

Tom is the good guy here. The yahoos that hired Anderson as a hitman are the culpable bums.

And thanks for recognizing his service to our country during the Viet Nam war. He is a true patriot.

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new 1 year, 10 months ago

The Ethics in Government Group was not hired to investigate any official in Snellville. However, Councilman Witts and Chief Magistrate Judge Mark Layng should resign from office ASAP. I'm just getting started with Dave Emanuel, Bret Harrell, and Tom Witts. Before I've completed my investigation; City of Snellville taxpayers will have their eyes open to the graft, violation of oath of office, and violation of OCGA 45-10-1. Some citizens are too close in friendship, too close in loyalty, and too close from being part of the problem and not the solution. I come to help Snellville citizens & will attempt to remove from office unscrupulos "public servants".

George Anderson EIGG Director

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kevin 1 year, 10 months ago

The reasons are irrelevant. Like common people don't have these same problems. What is important is the fact he hide it from the voters BEFORE the election. You can NEVER trust such a person to represent you in a political position. Never.

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roaads1 1 year, 10 months ago

It was never hidden. It was a matter of public record. The fact that he didn't say "I owe back taxes" as an election mantra should not even be an issue. He's an awesome guy and anyone that knows him knows that.

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mustardandbiscuit 1 year, 10 months ago

The old regime just can't let go. And, it's the "old" Snellville that they can't let go of, but, the "old" Snellville left town a long time ago. They're the ones that got the current Mayor elected. The three boobs that brought the fourth boob to the press conference wouldn't know what to do with the "New" Snellville if they just handed it to them. Get over it, boys. Go home and watch TV or play shuffleboard or change the flowers in your toilet.

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BenDover 1 year, 10 months ago

Why is Anderson, from Rome Ga, interested in Snellville's Politics? He needs to go back to Rome and listen to the crickets...This watchdog committee needs to worry about the spending of the city council, not a council members personal affairs. If this is all they have on Witts then they are barking up the wrong tree.

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kevin 1 year, 10 months ago

It's honestly that is on trial here, not money, at least not yet. HE lied before he ran, what makes you think he won;t lie again? Is he allowed to be above the law in Snellville? What a place to live!

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Karl 1 year, 10 months ago

He lied about NOTHING. Are you Clower, Jenkins, Simpson, or Odom?

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kevin 1 year, 10 months ago

Excuses are a dime a dozen. This crook knew he owed the taxes but knowingly decided not to disclose this BEFORE his election. All his talk about he told everyone about this is BS. Why wasn't this disclosed BEFORE you ran? Because you knew it would affect your election and maybe you would not have been elected. Just another hypocrit in government. It really doesn't matter that you talked about it AFTER you were elected. Let's face it folks. If a representative of you cannot follow the laws before he gets elected, what chance is it he will follow the laws AFTER he is elected? They all think the laws do not apply to them and then they all have excuses once they get caught. He is no different then the rest. Those kinds never represent the people and only run for the money and power. They all end up in the same trash can.

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roaads1 1 year, 10 months ago

Kevin- I guess some anonymous internet tough guy can get his jollies off by saying untrue things about a man whose shoes he could never fill. He didn't lie. The only liar here is you. He has a tax issue like so many Americans do. It was public knowledge not hidden. Get your facts straight before running your mouth about someone like Tom. He's one of the few really great guys in this position. People that get off on doing what you are doing here make me sick. Find something else that makes you feel grown up.

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Karl 1 year, 10 months ago

He lied about nothing. kevin are you Clower, Jenkins, Simpson or Odom?

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Coolray 1 year, 10 months ago

He lied when he took his oath of office! If the oath means nothing stop administering it. If it means something, then he should be held accountable. Its really just that black and white.

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Karl 1 year, 10 months ago

You have a hard time with reading comprehension, don't you? You and kevin must have been school mates.

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roaads1 1 year, 10 months ago

He did not lie. What is wrong with these people ? Snellville has a man of integrity in office and they want to lie about him anonymously. Worst kind of scum. Karl, they just say things about people without the facts. Facts just get in their way. Chronic complainers that know nothing.

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Coolray 1 year, 10 months ago

Baseless personal attacks without substantiation are worth the paper you wrote them on. He took an oath all you need to do is read the plain language of the oath.

If you care to read it and then say he didn't lie, please offer a factual basis and not more petty personal attacks.

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Karl 1 year, 10 months ago

I know that kevin in particular is nothing more than a constant complainer in this site about anything. If any public official sneezes kevin damns him as a liar and cheater and thief.

His comments mean nothing to most regular readers of the online GDP. They consider the source and take it for what it's worth---nothing.

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carpentar934 1 year, 10 months ago

I worked for GPR,Tom Witts company, from 2003 until January of 2010. Not only is he honest, but he also treats everyone who works for him with respect. When I was in a financial pinch he lent me the money to get out of it. I know of another carpenter that worked for him that was ready to lose his house and Tom lent him the money to catch up his payments. All you people who want to make this man look dishonest need to talk to those of us who work or worked for him. I was working for him at the time this happened and He never mentioned it to me. But Tom wouldn’t, he is loyal to his people and they are loyal to him. I am going to call him on Monday and thank him for what he did. I would have been out of a job. He paid me well when I worked for him, I never once had to wait for a paycheck, and when I decided to go out on my own he encouraged me and even gave me work as a sub. That’s the kind of man Tom Witts is and anyone who says differently does not know him or has some kind of grudge against him.

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DaveEmanuel 1 year, 10 months ago

Just so there is no confusion (a few folks here appear to have problems with reading comprehension) I am a member of the Snellville City Council, and I Tom Witts is not only a fellow council member, but also a friend.

I attended the "press conference" because I wanted to support Tom. I knew there was no basis for the allegations because Tom had fully discussed the issue on a number of occasions in the past, But when a "hired gun' comes to town, you don't know what's going to happen. That thought proved to be very prophetic. The "hired gun" turned out to be a circus side show act that relied on a BB gun that fired blanks.

From what I could see, George Anderson is a doddering old man who is sorely in need of money. He has no other visible source of income, his wife is no longer employed, and he has stated that he earns about $4,000 a month filing ethics complaints. Frankly, after listening to him prattle on about the speaker of the house, the current and former governor, the Georgia legislature, the buffet at the Carl Vinson Institute and a host of other irrelevant subjects, I'm surprised-- not only that anyone would hire him, but that he found his way from Rome to Snellville.

So what we have is a pathetic attempt by what appears to be a financially challenged "investigator" to discredit an honorable, forthright person. Which brings up the question, "Who hired him?" Connect the dots- the only people in attendance other than Witts supporters were Emmett Clower, Robert Jenkins and Wayne Odum, a couple of reporters, and two spectators who seemed to be there to gather information for a third party.

I invite anyone who is having difficulty connecting the dots to contact me. Once you see the documentation, the picture immediately becomes very clear. I'm not talking about smoke and mirror statements, pre-packaged conclusions or the ramblings of a semi-lucid "investigator" who has clearly been off his medication for too long-- I'm talking about videos, police reports and e-mails that are public record. When you review factual documentation, the dots almost connect themselves. And the picture they create shows three stooges up front and a fourth lurking in the shadows.

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Karl 1 year, 10 months ago

Great post, Dave. You nailed this one on the head!

By now, I am sure those yahoos that hired the investigator clown are trying to get their money back, rueing the day they thought this scam was a good idea.

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roaads1 1 year, 10 months ago

Dave-It was good to hear from you. And thanks for commenting elsewhere too.

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roaads1 1 year, 10 months ago

George Anderson is trying to defend his attacks on Tom Witts on this link. Lets let him know we support Tom. http://snellville.patch.com//articles/watchdog-director-plans-ethics-complaints-agains-witts

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