SNELLVILLE -- Government watchdog George Anderson was back at a Snellville city council meeting Monday night, again announcing his ethics complaint against Mayor Pro Tem Tom Witts.
Witts, for a second time, stressed the fact that the back taxes focused on by Anderson are a non-issue.
In June, Anderson -- the Rome-based director of the Ethics in Government Group -- held a press conference lodging the ethics accusations against Witts for the $28,000 he owed the state in back taxes when he was sworn in as a Snellville city councilman in 2009. Witts has said the money was from a 401K disbursement taken after his wife got laid off in 2007.
The councilman reiterated Monday that he's paying the money off and has done nothing wrong.
"Is the money owed? Absolutely," Witts said. "I had the choice of either closing my company and putting 13 people out of work, or assuming the debt personally and keeping my company open ... Believe me. I disclosed it."
Witts said he consulted attorneys at the time and was told the back taxes were not an issue. Snellville City Attorney Tony Powell expressed a similar sentiment last month, saying there did not appear "to be a valid ethics claims that the council could act on."
Anderson doesn't agree. He said Monday that he has filed a complaint with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission.
"(Witts) still took the oath of office saying that he was not the owner of any uncollected state of Georgia funds," said Anderson, who denied characterizations of himself as a "hired gun."
During a meeting where most business items were tabled, multiple audience members defended Witts after Anderson addressed the council.
"Thank you Tom," resident Kurt Schulz said. "I would have six of you up there."
Former Snellville councilman Tod Warner said he had a similar tax issue when he was elected, and consulted three attorneys who told him he was in the clear. He offered the idea of the council actually voting on whether or not to enact an ethics complaint against Witts as a way of coming to a resolution on the issue.
"Maybe that would be the easiest thing to put this all to bed," Warner said. "Bring it up, vote it down, and be done with it."