The complaint was brought against county Chairman Tim Lee by attorney Gary Pelphrey of east Cobb.
Pelphrey said, “The purpose of the Board of Ethics is to ensure that the people maintain confidence in their elected officials, and what Chairman Lee has done is everything he can to turn public participation in this effort into a sham.”
Pelphrey accuses Lee of violating Georgia’s Open Meetings law by briefing commissioners on the Braves deal in sets of two to avoid holding a public meeting.
Pelphrey calls these two-at-a-time briefings “Noah’s Ark meetings.”
His hope is for the ethics board to find Lee in violation of the ethics code.
“The purpose of this board is to make their determination of that, and if they do then it seems to me that the appropriate thing to do is reset and start this Braves thing right,” Pelphrey said. “I’m a big baseball fan. I’ve been a baseball fan since before most of the people in this room were born.”
Pelphrey said he is 78.
“Baseball is the great American pastime, but this is sullying it more than actually helping it,” he said.
Lee called the accusations “baseless and irresponsible.”
“From the very beginning and to this day and through the entire process I have worked in a very transparent and trusting way on behalf of the citizens of Cobb County,” said Lee, who was reached by phone after the hearing.
“I believe all of the claims made by the gentleman are baseless and irresponsible and a continued waste of taxpayers’ money to answer such frivolous and baseless accusations.”
Five of the seven ethics board members who initially met Tuesday to consider the complaint were Lt. Col. Mike Patellis of east Cobb, who chairs the board; Deborah King of south Cobb, an adjunct professor at Shorter University; retired businessman Richard Ziober of east Cobb; the Rev. Walter Moon of Marietta; and Marietta attorney Doug Shaddix of west Cobb.
Two board members were absent: Darrell Sutton, who was appointed to the ethics board by the Cobb Bar Association, and Robert Johnson, who represents the county employees.
Ethics board attorney Lynn Rainey said Johnson had recused himself since his mother, Deborah Dance, is the county attorney and will be answering the complaint filed against Lee.
The board voted 5-0 to replace Johnson with attorney Angeline Mathis, a former chairwoman of the ethics board.
It also replaced Rainey with attorney Robert Grayson.
Rainey recused himself to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, since he is also the attorney for the Cumberland Community Improvement District, a district that has committed $10 million to the stadium project.
The ethics board opted to hold its investigatory review, a meeting where it determines whether the grounds are sufficient to move forward with an investigation, for 6 p.m. on June 17.
Last month, the board rejected retired east Cobb businessman Larry Savage’s ethics complaint against commissioners over the Braves deal in vote of 6-1, with Moon opposed.
Lee said he was confident the ethics board would dismiss this latest case just as it did with Savage’s complaint.
“I believe I have on my side common sense and a true understanding of transparency, and again, doing the best I can for the citizens of Cobb County,” Lee said.