Former Walker County commission candidate accused of stealing from charity

Commissioner candidate Ales Campbell {CQ}, left, talks with Elections Supervisor Barbara Berry {CQ} after Friday morning's elections commission meeting in LaFayette, Ga. Campbell approached the Walker County Election Commission on Friday morning about allegations that she owed back taxes, which would have made her ineligible to run. Campbell proved that it was a non-issue during the meeting.
photo Tuesday, November 6, 2012 Walker County commissioner write-in candidate Ales Campbell sits on the stairs in the Lafayette courthouse and waits as ballots are counted Tuesday night. Campbell was defeated by incumbent commissioner Bebe Heiskell.

LaFayette police say a former Walker County commission candidate stole money from a charity where she served as president.

Detective Billy Mullis took out an arrest warrant against Ales Earle Campbell this week, filing a charge of theft by taking against her. Police Chief Bengie Clift said Campbell has been accused of misappropriating funds from the LaFayette Woman's Club. Clift did not know exactly how much money Campbell supposedly took, but he said it's between $1,000 and $10,000.

He said the department has given her until 5 p.m. Friday to turn herself in. Attempts to reach Campbell by phone Thursday were not successful and she did not return a message on Facebook.

"This is in the last 18 months or so," Clift said of the theft accusation. " As they cycled in a new president, they figured it out."

According to a document on the General Federation of Women's Clubs Georgia website, Campbell was the president of the northwest district of the statewide organization from 2016 through 2018. GWFC President Tina Daniel declined to comment Thursday.

Rachel Oesch Willeford, the new president of the LaFayette Woman's Club, told the Times Free Press in a statement, "Transparency is a principal of the LaFayette Woman's Club and after an accounting discrepancy was discovered immediate action was taken. The Club has fulfilled all of its financial commitments and will continue to do so. The Club is in the process of recovering any and all missing funds through legal procedures."

Campbell challenged former commissioner Bebe Heiskell in 2012. Before the Republican primary that July, she served as social media coordinator for Heiskell's opponent, Dr. Paul Shaw. When Shaw lost by 211 votes, Campbell ran in the November election as a write-in candidate.

Heiskell beat her, gaining 13,380 votes against 5,851 write-in votes. At the time of the election, according to Times Free Press archives, county officials were not immediately clear how many of those write-in ballots were specifically for Campbell.

After 2012, Campbell remained politically active and supported Shannon Whitfield in his successful 2016 campaign against Heiskell. She also operates the "Our Walker County" Facebook page, which has 17,000 members.

A school bus driver, Campbell has also served in positions of authority for the LaFayette Area Empty Stocking Fund.

Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or Follow him on Twitter @LetsJett.