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Attorney discovers vital information missing from Fani Willis' financial disclosure

By Mandy Donalds
|
January 26, 2024

Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis is facing scrutiny over a recent discovery regarding her 2022 financial disclosures.

Willis, who is known for her role in overseeing high-profile cases, including the Trump election interference case, did not disclose a trip allegedly funded by special prosecutor Nathan Wade. This omission is significant as Fulton County’s ethics rules mandate the disclosure of such gifts, as the New York Post reported.

A detailed investigation revealed that Willis's financial disclosure for 2022 lacked information about a Miami trip paid for by Wade, raising ethical and legal concerns.

Willis's financial disclosure, a document meant to promote transparency and integrity in public office, explicitly stated "none" under the section detailing gifts over $100 in value from prohibited sources.

Wade, who was appointed by Willis in late 2021 to oversee the Trump election interference case, falls under this category. The absence of this critical information on the disclosure form has prompted further examination into the nature of their relationship and the implications it might have on their professional duties.

Investigation Reveals Unreported Expenditures

Records show that in October 2022, Nathan Wade made several payments for travel arrangements in Willis's name. This includes a $477 payment for a flight to Miami and substantial payments totaling $6,435 to Royal Caribbean Cruises and a travel agency.

These payments are presumed to be for personal trips that both Willis and Wade allegedly took together. The fact that these expenditures were not reported in Willis's financial disclosure is a matter of concern, as it potentially violates Fulton County's ethics rules.

Under Fulton County's ethics guidelines, officials are required to declare gifts from sources that could be perceived as influencing their professional decisions. The rules are designed to prevent conflicts of interest and maintain public trust in government operations. Failing to adhere to these rules can result in penalties, including those for false or misleading disclosures.

Willis-Wade Relationship Under Scrutiny

The lack of disclosure by D.A. Willis gains additional significance in light of allegations regarding a clandestine romance between her and Nathan Wade.

These allegations surfaced in early 2023 and have raised questions about the propriety of their professional relationship. The audit committee chair of Fulton County has already demanded Willis to provide information on her decision to appoint Wade, especially in the context of the substantial legal fees -- nearly $654,000 -- that Wade has collected from Willis's office since 2022.

Phil Holloway, a Georgia criminal defense attorney and legal analyst, commented on the situation, stating, "This needs explaining." Holloway's remark underscores the growing demand for clarity and accountability from Willis in the wake of these revelations.

The timeline of events adds another layer of complexity to the situation. Willis hired Wade as a special prosecutor on the Trump case in late 2021, around the same time Wade filed for divorce from his wife. The subsequent financial transactions in 2022 and the allegations of a personal relationship in early 2023 point towards a potentially entangled mix of personal and professional interests.

Audit Committee Demands Transparency

The Chair of Fulton County's audit committee has played a crucial role in bringing these issues to light. Last week, in mid-January 2023, the chair demanded that Willis provide detailed information about her appointment with Wade.

This request for information is part of a broader effort to ensure transparency and ethical conduct within the county's administration. The committee's involvement signifies the seriousness of the situation and the need for a thorough investigation into the matter.

While Willis has yet to respond publicly to these allegations, the pressure for her to do so is mounting. The intersection of her professional responsibilities and personal associations with Wade has drawn significant attention, prompting calls for a clear and transparent resolution. The outcome of this situation could have far-reaching implications, not only for Willis and Wade but also for the standards of ethical conduct expected of public officials in Fulton County.

In conclusion, the discovery of unreported expenditures in D.A. Fani Willis's financial disclosure has raised serious questions about her adherence to ethical standards.

The involvement of Nathan Wade, both professionally as a special prosecutor and personally in the alleged Miami trip, has added complexity to the issue. As the investigation unfolds, it remains to be seen how Willis will address these concerns and what impact this will have on her professional standing and the broader ethics landscape in Fulton County.