Hunter threatens suit, demands $5 million over ‘racist pig’ punishment


The Gwinnett County commissioner reprimanded after calling Congressman John Lewis a “racist pig” on Facebook is threatening a federal lawsuit — and demanding $5 million — over the punishment he received.

Commissioner Tommy Hunter wrote his controversial posts about Lewis, a civil rights icon and United States representative from Atlanta, on Jan. 14, 2017, amid a public war of words between Lewis and then-president elect Donald Trump. Hunter’s commission colleagues handed him a corresponding public reprimand in June, about two weeks after the county’s first-ever ethics board recommended such an action

MORE13 controversial Facebook posts from Gwinnett Commissioner Tommy Hunter

Hunter’s attorney has already challenged the constitutionality of that ethics board — and is now threatening to sue Hunter’s fellow commissioners in both their official and individual capacities.

In a previously unreported document sent to Gwinnett County on Nov. 15, Hunter attorney Dwight Thomas asks for “not less than” $5 million in compensation for what he called the board’s “effort to restrain, chill, and otherwise curtail the free speech” of his client. 

Thomas’ ante litem notice, a document required to be submitted before filing litigation against a government, claims the actions of the county’s ethics board and the subsequently issued reprimand violated Hunter’s First, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. 

“The reason for the financial demand is clear,” Hunter’s consultant and spokesman, Seth Weathers, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “They have permanently damaged Mr. Hunter’s future employment opportunities.”

A Gwinnett spokesman declined to comment on the would-be lawsuit, but an attorney representing the county filed a response to Thomas’ notice on Nov. 30. 

In the strongly worded, six-page response, attorney Ken Jarrard called each of Thomas’ claims to be meritless and said any lawsuit would be “vigorously defended by Gwinnett County.”

Weathers said a lawsuit is still planned but, as of Thursday, nearly two months after the ante litem notice was sent, no federal litigation had actually been filed. 

Hunter suffered a heart attack in late December but his recovery is going “well,” Weathers said. 

MYAJC.COM: REAL JOURNALISM. REAL LOCAL IMPACT.

The AJC's Tyler Estep keeps you updated on the latest happenings in Gwinnett County government and politics. You'll find more on myAJC.com, including these stories:

 

Never miss a minute of what's happening in Gwinnett politics. Subscribe to myAJC.com.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Cobb County restaurant inspection scores

Cobb County • Food Big Apple, 2727 Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta. 80/B • McDonald’s, 5145 Cowan Road, Acworth. 85/B • Paleteria La Delicia, 1869 Cobb Parkway, Marietta. 91/A • Tapestry at the Old Mill, 4271 Southside Drive, Acworth. 100/A
Gridlock Guy: Our city’s parking problems are a reflection of our traffic woes
Gridlock Guy: Our city’s parking problems are a reflection of our traffic woes

Atlanta gets more flack than Roberta about how slow its traffic moves. While rush hour, lack of mass transit, and often just plain sloppy organization with big events are killing drivers softly with a very slow song, another vehicular problem needs consideration. Businesses, organizations, and cities need to do better with how they handle parking....
Cherokee County restaurant inspection scores

Cherokee County • Arby’s, 1461 Riverstone Parkway, Canton. 87/B • Bojangles, 1665 Ball Ground Highway, Canton. 91/A • Five Guys, 1359 Riverstone Parkway, Canton. 99/A • Hong Kong City, 12050 Highway 92, Woodstock. 78/C • Pizza Hut, 12050 Highway 92, Woodstock. 95/A
Fulton County restaurant inspection scores

Fulton County • Church’s Chicken, 860 Bankhead Highway, Atlanta. 92/A • Goldberg’s Bagels and Deli, 1272 W. Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta. 94/A • Hikari at Johns Creek, 10820 Abbott’s Bridge Road, Johns Creek. 91/A • Johnny’s N.Y. Style Pizza, 5495 Cascade Road, Atlanta. 86/B • Stop Bop Go, 4000 Old Milton...
Coweta County restaurant inspection scores

Coweta County • Big Chic, 7280 E. Highway 16, Senoia. 86/B • Mother’s Kitchen, 33 ½ E. Broad St., Newnan. 99/A • Neighborhood Corner Café, 12 Bonnell St., Newnan. 90/A • O’Charley’s, 545 Bullsboro Drive, Newnan. 87/B • Southern Country Restaurant, 34 Chestlehurst Road, Senoia. 95/A
More Stories