Ethics Complaint Filed Against Mayor
The resident who filed the complaint cited improper use of city equipment and a conflict of interest.
A local resident has filed an ethics complaint against Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews, alleging that the mayor uses city equipment for other business and that he has been facilitating meetings between his employer and the city manager.
David Ermutlu said he filed the complaint Tuesday with the city clerk's office. He said that Mathews' use of his city-provided iPhone and iPad to do business for MetroAtlanta Ambulance is a violation of the city's ordinances. According to Mathews' biography on the city's website, he serves as Manager of Government Relations for the ambulance service.
"It clearly states in two to three different places that you are expressly forbidden to use city property to conduct private business," Ermutlu said. "He should not be sending emails to other cities. He should not be inquiring about calls to the Kennesaw dispatch center."
Ermutlu also said that Mathews set up meetings with the president and vice president of MetroAtlanta Ambulance and City Manager Steve Kennedy to get information from the city's 911 Center, which serves Kennesaw and Acworth.
"You just can't do that," Ermutlu said. "That’s wrong. He's supposed to hold up his hand and say, 'I work for this company. I can't get involved.'"
According to Mathews' biography, his job responsibilities at the ambulance service include building relationships with elected and non-elected officials while keeping officials informed on EMS-related issues.
"There’s really not much too it," Mathews said. "If anybody does any digging on it, they’ll find there aren't any violations."
Mathews declined further comment, referring a reporter to a story in the Marietta Daily Journal. According to the newspaper's report, Mathews told a reporter on May 15 that he "messed up" when he sent a work email from his city email address.
"I don’t have anything to hide," Mathews told the newspaper. "I screwed up, and I sent one email from the wrong account. As soon as I saw it, I let everybody know. It wasn’t on purpose."
Ermutlu, who works part time for Georgia EMS, said that in March, a memo from MetroAtlanta management stated that effective immediately, MetroAtlanta would start running all EMS calls in Kennesaw. According to the Marietta Daily Journal, Georgia EMS had run all of Kennesaw's calls since 1998. When MetroAtlanta Ambulance was designated by the state to service the area in 2001, the city continued to allow Georgia EMS to run its calls.
"Of course, we were like, where did this come from?" Ermutlu said. "There had to be something behind the scenes that (made) this (happen)."
Ermutlu said an unknown person filed an Open Records request with the city of Kennesaw for any EMS-related documents. That file was delivered to Georgia EMS and included emails where Mathews "appeared" to be doing business for MetroAtlanta on his city-issued iPhone and iPad.
That's when the Kennesaw resident decided to move forward with his complaint, starting with the Cobb County District Attorney's Office, which he was told didn't handle complaints such as this. Ermutlu then contacted Governor Nathan Deal's office, where he was told he needed to start at the local level. So, Ermutlu filed his complaint with the city of Kennesaw for the Kennesaw Ethics Commission to hear.
"I’m not a legal expert," Ermutlu said. "I don’t know whether legally this is right or wrong. I think these things are violations, but I’m not a lawyer so I can’t say yes they are. But, I think they need to be investigated to see whether they are."
Ermutlu said he just wanted to find out what was going on.
"I know people are going to say, 'He works for Georgia EMS. He’s going after Mark because he works for Metro,'" Ermutlu said. "It isn’t a vengeance thing. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time."