Ethics complaint targets missing info for PSC member

ATLANTA — A member of the Georgia Public Service Commission is facing a new ethics complaint for failing to provide required information about nearly 60% of his campaign contributors.

Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher says Commissioner Fitz Johnson provided he names of all his contributors, but he left out the occupations and employers of the majority of those who gave him money.

He’ll have a chance to explain to the State Ethics Commission if that agency decides to launch a full investigation.

Midterm election campaigns in Georgia and elsewhere are in their final weeks.

Early voting in Georgia began this week, and candidates for the U.S. Senate and the governor’s office — the top-of-the-ticket contests — have debated in the past five days.

Campaign commercials have been cascading across television screens for months.

These campaigns are expensive some of them spectacularly so. But unlike the more public parts of campaigns, finding out more about the millions of dollars spent on campaigns requires a little digging.

William Perry of the good government group Georgia Ethics Watchdogs did the digging in the Johnson matter.


“When I come across an issue like this, I file a complaint. I’ve never seen anything like this, so I want to draw attention to it,” Perry said.

Perry showed Belcher a certified copy of the complaint he filed with the State Ethics Commission on Wednesday. The commission will determine whether to open a full investigation of Johnson’s campaign.

Johnson was a Cobb County businessman when Gov. Brian Kemp appointed him to fill an open seat on the commission last year.

Johnson’s campaign for a full term on the PSC is currently delayed by a legal challenge to the way Georgia voters elect commission members.

But Johnson still has to file disclosure reports, and Perry discovered that his latest one has serious gaps.

Channel 2 Action News reviewed Johnson’s latest disclosure report and verified Perry’s findings: 59% (126 out of 213) of his contributions did not include required information such as the contributor’s occupation and/or employer.

Perry said that information is important because Johnson and his four colleagues on the PSC decide how much consumers will pay in utilities rates to companies such as Georgia Power.

“The public doesn’t pay attention to this unfortunately, but that’s why we’ve got to raise a flag about it. If this is deception or incompetence, it really doesn’t matter to me, but this is a huge problem,” Perry told Belcher.

Belcher spoke by phone with an aide to Johnson Tuesday, telling her he planned to air a story about gaps in the commissioner’s disclosure form.

Belcher emailed the commissioner himself Wednesday. He did not respond.

Perry filed a similar complaint a year ago about missing information on former Mayor Kasim Reed’s disclosure form during the 2021 Atlanta mayor’s race.

Channel 2 Action News has learned that case is still “open and under active investigation” by the ethics commission.