published Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Jury hears opening statements in lawsuit by former Georgia ethics commission director

ATLANTA — Jurors considering a lawsuit filed by the former director of the state ethics commission heard conflicting arguments Tuesday about the events that ultimately led to her departure from the agency.

The lawsuit filed by former commission executive secretary Stacey Kalberman alleges commissioners cut her salary and eliminated her deputy’s position as she sought approval in May 2011 to issue subpoenas as part of the agency’s investigation into Gov. Nathan Deal’s 2010 campaign reports and financial disclosures.

Kim Worth, an attorney for Kalberman, warned the jury that it may not be clear at the end of the trial “who pulled the strings” to get rid of Kalberman, but she led them through a string of arguments that pointed to actions by a number of people connected to the governor.

“We may not know who the puppet master was,” Worth said. “What we know is that it happened. What we know is the reason why it happened.”

Assistant Attorney General Bryan Webb told jurors in his opening statement that Kalberman had failed to propose solutions to budget woes facing the ethics commission and behaved unprofessionally during a meeting with two commissioners.

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