Looks like the strategy of charging two police officers for shooting a suspect that had assaulted them and then tried firing a Taser at them has backfired on Paul Howard. Voters in Fulton County booted the longtime DA from office in Tuesday’s primary, with challenger Fani Willis leading by forty-five points. Willis becomes the first female Fulton County DA, and the first new DA since 1997.
Howard’s not going to be done in court, however. In fact, he might be making more personal appearances at the bench than ever before:
Howard recently came under fire after the FOX 5 I-Team uncovered the Georgia Bureau of Investigation was looking into allegations that Howard used grant money from the City of Atlanta to nonprofits under his control. One of those non-profits paid Howard at least $140,000 in city grant money. He agreed to pay a $6,500 state ethics fine for failing to disclose his role as a CEO for two non-profits.
The GBI was investigating the way grand jury subpoenas were issued by Howard’s office in the Rayshard Brooks murder case.
In addition, three past or present female employees have filed lawsuits alleging harassment or discrimination.
Howard dismissed the harassment and discrimination allegations, saying they’re baseless and politically motivated. He also said there was no wrongdoing involving the salary supplement or the subpoenas.
The Brooks shooting is still under investigation by the GBI, but Howard decided to charge the two Atlanta PD officers anyway. The GBI publicly blasted that decision, insisting that Howard should have allowed the investigation to finish before making a charging decision. When Howard short-circuited the process, Atlanta police officers started walking off the job, neighboring police departments refused to help out unless an officer was in danger, and crime skyrocketed. The shooting death of an eight-year-old girl at the hands of rioters finally snapped Atlanta’s leadership into some sort of action, but police are still feeling the need to protect themselves before protecting the city.
It seems as though Fulton County voters were a just a wee bit unhappy with that chain of events, set in motion by Howard. They are likely equally unhappy about the allegations of corruption by Howard, both of the usual monetary variety and of the charging process. The GBI is still investigating Howard for potential felony violations in the latter. Last week, Howard paid the state $6500 in fines for the $140,000 kickback he engineered, as Fox 5 notes above. That was just for the campaign-finance part of that issue, however; Howard still might get prosecuted on criminal charges, a decision that will have to get made by the GBI and Willis at some point.
That means we haven’t seen the last of Howard, and Howard hasn’t seen the last of courtrooms, although perhaps so as an attorney. The state bar will likely have something to say about Howard’s future career, given all of the corruption allegations around him. In the meantime, perhaps Willis will start off by undoing the chicanery surrounding the charges related to the Brooks shooting and let the GBI do their job.