Exclusive interview: Augusta mayor responds to allegations

Published: Mar. 15, 2022 at 7:45 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Mayor Hardie Davis Jr. responded to the ethics investigation into his office’s finances, including allegations by two of his former staffers saying he misused money.

We spoke with the mayor, and he tells us he’s done nothing wrong.

He says any money spent in his office can be accounted for. As far as the staffers who are now speaking out, he says if they noticed any wrongdoing years ago, they could and should have reported it to the police.

We spoke to one of those former employees, and she says her time in the mayor’s office started good but went downhill.

“We didn’t know what was happening, but we could see transactions occurring, but without reason,” said Latisha McMillian.

McMillan told us about her time working in this office. Two years as an executive assistant under Davis starting in 2018. She says things started great, but after his re-election, it changed.

“It was no longer about being the mayor of Augusta. It’s more of how we can highlight him for him to go beyond the mayor of Augusta,” she said.

She has a degree in accounting, and a few things raised her suspicion.

“As we know, with any position, there’s policies, procedures, laws in place that regulate what you can spend, what you can’t spend, how you should spend it, how you should record those transactions, and having receipts when you should have receipts. All those processes and I felt like oftentimes, we would skip those processes.”

Most specifically she recalls invoices for ‘consultant’ fees for the mayor’s My Brother’s Keeper program. She says they paid for “consultants,” but she never witnessed any consulting.

“There were transactions made that truly was not for MBK,” said McMillian.

So, what does the mayor have to say?

Davis said: “Well, I think again, those are lies. Imma call a lie a lie.”

He says he did use consultants because his office was short-staffed. But to him, the allegations are a part of a political move.

“It’s been 16 years as an elected official. This has not happened before,” he said.

As for the prior ethics complaints against him, he says those have been resolved on his end.

“It said, ‘Mayor Davis, you’ve got reports that by law you’re supposed to file. You filed them late. We’re going to fine you.’ And, ‘Oh, we see that they’re all contributions that you did not report. You need to report that.’ We did that. End of story,” said Davis.

The complaints are still being investigated by the state, so it will ultimately be up to them to decide where the story ends. The mayor says his two former employees that have spoken out about working under him have the right to speak about what they saw, but he denies he’s done anything wrong.

We talked to him in more detail about the ethics investigation and the allegation about the Regency Mall campaign. We’ll follow up and have more on Wednesday.

“Every dollar that’s been spent in the mayor’s office can be accounted for,” he said.

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