News 12 at 6 o’clock / Friday, January 17, 2014
COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW) -- Columbia County's Tax Commissioner has been under fire, and under investigation, for weeks, accused of stealing taxpayer money.
Kay Allen has had 10 days to tell Georgia's governor why she shouldn't be removed from office. News 12 has now obtained a copy of her response. She says she did nothing wrong.
It's the latest development in what's been one drama after another for the Tax Commissioner's office.
Another key figure, former Deputy Tax Commissioner Dwight Johnson who says he exposed his boss as pocketing nearly $160,000 dollars. After 15 years, he says he was loyal to Allen, to a fault.
News 12 sat down with her former right hand man, Dwight Johnson, on what it was like working with Allen.
You know the old adage “hindsight is 20-20.” Johnson says only now is he starting to realize how degraded he was in his former job.
He says they had a deal. Whenever Kay Allen retired, her number two, Dwight Johnson would be the new Columbia County Tax Commissioner.
“I was basically being groomed to be the next tax commissioner,” he said.
After 15 years with that office, Johnson says things started taking a different course.
“Red flags went up,” he admitted.
He says he started getting bizarre mandates from Allen that Johnson says were below his pay grade as Deputy Tax Commissioner.
“Watering plants, making sure wreaths and pictures were straight. I could just go on, and on, and on,” Johnson said.
One assignment in particular had Johnson walking around a grocery store for 8 hours straight. It was an assignment so strange he recorded a phone conversation for proof.
Dwight: "Hi Mrs. Allen, this is Dwight.”
Kay: "Uh huh.”
Kay: “Where are you now?”
D: “I am needing to know where I need to be tomorrow.”
K: “Dwight, your assignment was to be at Kroger for 8 hours today. Are you at Kroger now?”
D: “The 8 hours is put in, yes ma'am.”
“I found that very humiliating and very degrading. At the same time, I was concerned about loitering,” Johnson said.
But, he followed her instructions per what he called puppy dog loyalty.
“I realized that I have essentially been a slave to someone for 15 years, and I will never do that again,” he said.
He even admits challenging her on certain issues he believed were unethical and says he got this response.
“She basically told me, Dwight, you have 5 people waiting in line for your job. If you don't want to work here, leave,” he described.
Still, he stayed until he was fired in October. He says the boss he once loved, has turned on him.
“I think she wants to take some of that negative publicity off of her and put it on me,” Johnson said.
Referring back to Kay Allen's response to the governor, in the letter she categorically denies she has violated the law. It goes on to say she could not have violated the Georgia Code called "Neglect of Duty" simply by accepting compensation from cities for extra work she did in collecting their taxes. It also says Allen wasn't aware that state law changed in 2007 but states she is willing to work with the County Commission to address the concerns.
We have posted the whole letter for you to read.
This investigation has been a series of twists and turns. Just this week, Johnson was part of an investigation of his own.
According to an incident report, Johnson was at the tag office this week asking about a vehicle he bought when he started asking questions regarding the Kay Allen investigation.
The employee told deputies that Johnson made a slashing motion to his throat and hinted he would fire anyone who wrote statements about him. Johnson said all of that is untrue.
When asked where where he wants to go from here, he shakes his head and says I don’t know.
He does say, however, that he doesn't want to sue Kay Allen because he'd also be forced to sue the county, and despite everything, he loves Columbia County.