Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren is expected to explain his campaign finances and office operations over the last five years to members of the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission on Wednesday.
Warren, who has been sheriff in Cobb since 2004, was subpoenaed by the commission, formerly the State Ethics Commission, regarding his campaign finance contribution disclosures and other documents relating to the operation of the Cobb sheriff’s office since 2014.
A hearing for Warren’s motions to quash the commission’s subpoenas is scheduled for Dec. 4 at the Coverdell Legislative Office Building at the State Capitol in downtown Atlanta.
It starts at 10 a.m. in room 606 and is open to the public.
David Emadi, executive director of the commission, told the MDJ the investigation of Warren is part of a larger look into “a number of areas which had been neglected for some time.”
“Shortly after I took over at the commission this past April, we began work on a number of projects to bring the commission back up to the standards that the citizens of Georgia deserve,” Emadi said in an email to the MDJ on Monday. “This included an audit on the local level of a number of various cities and counties from geographically and politically diverse regions.”
Emadi said he will discuss this work by the commission in more detail at the hearing Wednesday during his executive report.
“Cobb County and their locally elected officials were one of the groups included in our local audit, and these audits remain ongoing in many cases,” he said. “That audit included Sheriff Neil Warren and we were aware of some potential issues at the time.”
Emadi said the commission was informed of a number of other “potential violations” in regards to Warren through reporting by the AJC.
“As a result, the case against Sheriff Warren’s campaign account progressed to the point of a verified written complaint being filed and subpoenas issued so that we can fully determine what, if any, violations were present in that case,” Emadi said.”
Warren is keeping tight-lipped in respect of the investigation and the hearing. He did not return the MDJ’s request for comment Monday.
A spokesman for the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office told the MDJ the office has no comment in respect of the investigation into Warren.
At the crux of the matter is whether Warren correctly disclosed all his campaign contributions and expenditures.
Other parties, including the Cobb County government, have also been subpoenaed to provide documents to the state commission in regards to Warren and his recent campaigns for reelection.
The subpoena sent to Cobb’s finance director and the county attorney on Oct. 3 from the commission asks for all reimbursements for expenses involving the sheriff, as well as county policy on such reimbursements.
A subpoena sent on the same date by the state commission to the sheriff’s office asks for employee information, including time logs and work schedules, for every July since 2014.
Warren and his office are also under fire at present for their handling of the Cobb County jail, where inmates have been subject to an extended lockdown since September and where six inmates have died over the last year.
On Dec. 9, the ACLU of Georgia is hosting a public town hall about the lockdown and general conditions at the jail, from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Life Church on Powder Springs Road in Marietta.
“Everyone in this community should be alarmed over the deaths of Georgians while in custody in the Cobb County jail,” said ACLU of Georgia Executive Director Andrea Young. “The County’s current response is inhumane and unacceptable.”
The town hall is supported by the Cobb County branch of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference as well as La Gente de Cobb, another community organization.
It will focus on the concerns of families, friends and community members regarding inmates of the Cobb adult detention center, which has capacity for 3,543 inmates.
There are currently almost 2,000 inmates at the jail, a sheriff’s office spokesman said, confirming that six inmates have died this year.
Of those six inmates, only one died in the jail, the sheriff’s office confirmed. The others died while in custody, either in the hospital or hospice.
There have been 41 Cobb County jail inmates die in custody since 2004, records show, 33 of whom died in Cobb hospitals and eight in the jail itself.