Ethics commission dismisses complaint against Atlanta school board member

Oct 19, 2017 Compton
Atlanta school board member Cynthia Briscoe Brown (left) and challenger Charles Stadtlander participate in an election forum in August. Stadtlander filed an ethics complaint against the incumbent. Curtis Compton/

The Atlanta Board of Education Ethics Commission speedily dismissed complaints filed by a school board candidate against an incumbent he hopes to unseat. 

The independent panel decided Thursday not to pursue allegations brought by Charlie Stadtlander against incumbent Cynthia Briscoe Brown just weeks before the Nov. 7 election. 

The two candidates are running for the at-large seat 8.

“The Ethics Commission determined there was no sufficient evidence to move forward with an investigation. The complaint was dismissed,” said Pierre Gaither, the school board’s interim executive administrator, in a written statement.

The commission met for less than an hour Thursday to discuss the matter. 

Stadtlander alleged Briscoe Brown offered an Atlanta Public Schools job to his campaign worker. 

Nicole Phillips stated in a sworn affidavit submitted by Stadtlander that Stadtlander sent her to Briscoe Brown’s neighborhood in August to canvass and “to videotape the interaction at her home.”

That’s when she and Stadtlander allege Briscoe Brown offered Phillips a school district job, a charge Briscoe Brown denied.

Briscoe Brown said she was “pleased and relieved that the ethics commission found nothing in my political opponent’s complaint which even warranted investigation.”

“The resolution affirms my belief that the entire matter was an attempt by my opponent to smear my good name and my good record for his personal political gain,” she said Thursday.

Stadtlander told the ethics commission in his complaint that his campaign captured the conversation on video. As evidence, he submitted not the recording but a one-page partial transcript prepared by a private investigator after removing background noise.

The transcript of the alleged conversation included both Phillips and Briscoe Brown using the word “compensation” but provided no other context. 

Briscoe Brown said she expressed interest in having Phillips work for her campaign after she said Phillips told her that she was leaving Stadtlander’s campaign.

Stadtlander also alleged in the ethics complaint, filed earlier this month, that Briscoe Brown improperly posted photos of APS students on her Facebook page. She also refuted that allegation. 

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