Meter stops on investigation

At nearly $100K, mayor’s probe appears ended; Now council must decide what to do with it

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JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – With an estimated $100,000 spent, the City Council’s four-month probe into allegations against Mayor Mike Bodker is apparently over. The big question now is what will council do with it?

Apparently they are not sure. City Councilman Randall Johnson, who has been the council’s point man on the investigation, said the City Council will have to meet on what to do next with investigator Robert Wilson and City Manager John Kachmar.

“Some of the questions are still open, and right now we are still waiting for the mayor, who has yet to turn over documents that were requested months ago,” Johnson said.

“But we will look at our options. We have to decide whether to send [the report] to the district attorney’s office, to state Attorney General Sam Olens or to the FBI,” Johnson said. “All our options are on the table.”

Bodker’s attorney Michael Cross said the report is worthless as an investigation and that it is more likely any council action taken with it is only face-saving.

“If there were any actionable items of ethics violations in the report, and there are none, the statute of limitations have long run out. And the members of the council must know this,” Cross said. “And as noted, it is an interim report. It has not been completed. There is nothing for any agency to act on.”

As for the three main allegations the report singles out, none are serious enough for those agencies take up even if there were any proof.

Johnson alleges that the proof would have been forthcoming had Bodker turned over the phone records and his lease agreement with a developer as the investigator had demanded.

“This would have all been over in two months instead of four if the mayor had produced his phone records and the leases,” Johnson said.

Asked if there was enough evidence for the district attorney or the attorney general to act on, Johnson said he did not know.

“But I do know that this is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “If he would turn over those documents, then the investigation could move forward. He mentions the costs of the investigation just to deflect the real issue. He knows that using his personal phone for city business means that all of his records are subject to the Open Records Act. That would have texts [that would incriminate him].

“Then the next step would be to look at all of his emails. But Bodker has been stonewalling,” Johnson said. “We have a dishonest mayor. That is the real issue.”

Cross said if the mayor’s phone records were so critical to the case, the investigator already had the remedy in his hands, which was the subpoena power granted to him by council.

“He could have brought us before a judge at any time to demand we produce those records, and that was the point. It was our opinion there was never any justification for these demands and we wanted the fair arbiter of a judge to decide if the investigator had a right to see them,” Cross said.

“The fact that the investigator never served us a subpoena clearly shows that he came to the same conclusion we did. And that was that a judge would never agree [the records were needed],” Cross said.

In the report, it stated that the investigator amended his phone records requests to just certain dates, and to redact any personal information that was needed in the investigation, Cross said.

“That is a lie. If they had these allegations at the beginning, they should have made them. As it is, the report itself clears the mayor of 11 of the allegations,” Cross said.

On the three major allegations the report “concluded” were actionable, none are, with or without phone records, he said. No action was ever taken to purchase the property.

Regarding the allegation that he spoke to the landowner about information contained in council’s executive session, the property owner had already testified that the mayor did not. Any alleged phone record would not prove anything.

The allegation that he violated the ethics policy when he cast a vote for a developer on a minor zoning adjustment that was tainted because he once negotiated a lease with the man – a friend of 20 years – does not hold up, he said.

“It was a unanimous decision that carried unanimous approvals by staff and the Planning Commission. They say he failed to recuse himself. It might have been prudent, but was not necessary. To say it is an ethics violation is a reach,” Cross said.

Most of the allegations revolve around accusations of Bodker having talked to people with council’s permission. The charter as amended by council states the mayor shall only represent “the will of the council.”

“They seem to think the mayor is subordinate to the council,” he said. “I think that most people in the city believe that he is a member of the City Council. But the mayor still retains his First Amendment rights. The councilmembers think that they have a right to muzzle dissenting opinion. That’s just plain nuts.”