Monday, May 27, 2024

Fani Willis says investigation is “messing up my business”

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Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said the state legislature’s investigation into her office is “messing up” her business as lawmakers held a hearing into the hiring of Nathan Wade on Friday.

Georgia’s state Senate pressed two Fulton County officials—Sharon Whitmore, chief financial officer, and Robb Pitts, chair of the board of commissioners—about Willis’ hiring of Wade, who she brought on as a special prosecutor for her probe into former President Donald Trump‘s alleged election interference attempts.

Willis faced scrutiny over the hire after lawyers representing one of Trump’s codefendants argued she should be disqualified from the case over her relationship with Wade. Judge Scott McAfee ultimately decided Willis could stay on the case so long as Wade removed himself. Although he was critical of Willis’ hire, he did not find any legal basis to disqualify her.

As Willis moves forward with the case, she is facing investigation from the Republican-controlled state Senate into Wade’s hiring. The legislature has set up a special committee to “thoroughly investigate the allegations of misconduct by the district attorney for Fulton County, Fani Willis” related to alleged “potential conflicts of interest and misuse of public funds.”

District Attorney Fani Willis attends a hearing in Atlanta, Georgia on March 1, 2024. Willis said investigations into her office are “messing up” her business as a Georgia state Senate committee convened for a hearing…

Alex Slitz-Pool/Getty Images

Willis has maintained that she did not commit any wrongdoing and that her relationship with Wade began only after he was already hired.

She briefly addressed the hearing during a community event on Friday, according to a report from local news outlet Atlanta News First.

“Isn’t it interesting when we got a bunch of African-American DAs, now we need daddy to tell us what to do,” Willis said Friday morning. “So y’all can go put that in your sound bite for today, but today I am here so I can reach my community, and this is really messing up my business.”

She continued, “They can look all they want. The DA’s office has done everything according to the books. We are following the law. I’m sorry that folks get mad when everybody in society can be prosecuted.”

Newsweek reached out to Willis’ office for further comment via email.

During the hearing, Senator Bill Cowsert, an Athens Republican, asked Whitmore and Pitts about Fulton County’s budget process as he sought to gain a better understanding of what sort of oversight Willis’ office faced from the county.

He also asked questions about the county’s code of ethics and how he could obtain information about how much Wade was paid during his tenure working on the election interference case.

They testified that Willis did not seek preapproval from the board before hiring Wade and that they do not believe the law would require her to do so.

Cowsert said that their testimony indicated to him that the DA’s office has “pretty wide discretion” into their ability to spend money appropriated by the county and that Willis’ office believes they do not need county approval to bring on special counsel for the election interference case.

After the hearing, Cowsert told reporters that Willis has an “open invitation to appear” before the committee but will be subpoenaed if she does not agree to testify willingly, WABE News’ Rahul Bali wrote in a post to X.