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Open Records Act Complaint

Submitted by: Trey Benton
3522 Ashford Dunwoody Rd, #254
Atlanta, GA 30319
(404) 345-0011
Editor@thebrookhavenpost.com
Date:

June 24, 2015

Attention:

Sam Olens
State of Georgia Attorney General
Office of the Attorney General
ATTN: Jennifer Colangelo
40 Capitol Square
Atlanta, GA 30334

Mr. Olens,
For the past two months Brookhaven officials have been involved in an intentional and orchestrated
attempt to cover up records documenting a City employee’s claim of sexual harassment against former
Mayor J. Max Davis.
The complaint against Davis was reported in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on May 13th, when
Brookhaven spokeswoman Megan Matteucci, confirmed that a complaint of sexual harassment had
been made against Davis by a City employee. But, neither the identity of the employee or details of
the alleged incident were disclosed. Matteucci also confirmed City Attorney Tom Kurrie was
investigating the matter.
In an effort to refute the AJC’s report that a sexual harassment allegation existed, both Davis and
Kurrie released statements denying any incidents of sexual harassment had occurred or that any
investigation of sexual harassment was being conducted.
On May 13th, the City released a statement from Kurrie, “There is not presently nor was there any
investigation of sexual harassment being conducted by the City of Brookhaven. Furthermore, there has
been no claim or complaint filed by anyone, employee or otherwise, alleging sexual harassment by the
Mayor.”
And, in an exclusive interview with The Post, Davis completely denied the allegation saying, “It is
unfortunate the term ‘sexual harassment’ was ever spoken to the media. This incident was never about
that and neither of the parties present ever claimed or made that accusation.”

In addition to their statements, Kurrie released a heavily-redacted paragraph taken from an email sent
by City Manager Marie Garrett to Human Resources Director Rick Stone. Although many of the
details in the email were redacted by Kurrie, it describes an incident reported to Garrett, by two female
employee’s where one of the women “was sprayed with Lysol by the Mayor.”
Initially, the portion of Garrett’s email was all the City would release.
The Post and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution made numerous requests for the release of Garrett’s
entire un-redacted email, but were repeatedly stonewalled and given a litany of excuses by Kurrie as
to why it would not be released.
The Post continued to hound City Officials to explain why they had illegally altered Garrett’s email,
which is a public record, and requested the release all records relating to the incident (un-redacted and
in their entirety), as required under the Georgia Open Records Act.
Finally, but only after threatening to file a complaint with the Attorney General, did the City comply
and release the emails, investigation notes and investigative report, which describe the
Lysol incident as “sexual harassment”.
According to the newly released records, when Kurrie and Davis released statements on May
13th denying any sexual harassment complaint, both were fully aware that Davis’ behavior had been
described by two City employees as “sexual harassment” and Kurrie was actively investigating the
matter.
The newly released records also show Kurrie had intentionally edited, altered and redacted the portion
of Garrett’s email for the purpose of concealing information which would be embarrassing to both
Davis and the City — and that he had specifically redacted the words “sexual harassment.”
Kurrie’s own investigation notes show on April 28th, he interviewed an employee who told him
Davis’ actions left her “embarrassed and humiliated” and “she considered the Mayor’s action to be
sexual harassment.”
Also included in Kurrie’s report, is a less-redacted copy of Garrett’s email to Stone. The details
previously redacted from Garrett’s email reveal that a female employee was, “sprayed with Lysol by
the Mayor and directed at [redacted] buttocks.” Garrett also wrote, “This is unacceptable behavior and
I believe that the Mayor took a liberty and crossed the line doing something that I consider to be
sexual harassment.”
When questioned about why the City made the decision to alter public records and cover-up the Davis
incident, Councilman Bates Mattison told The Post, “In hindsight, it would have been a whole lot

easier for everybody if everything was turned over all at once. I still want to protect the names of the
employees involved because I don’t see the public benefit from disclosing them.
We need to be cognizant of the Laws, but that’s what we have a City Attorney for.” Mattison said the
City also weighed the costs of litigation which also factored in to the City’s release of the documents.
After having been briefed by Kurrie on the issue, Councilman John Park sent emails to both Kurrie
and the Council expressing concern over the City’s refusal to disclose the records.
Park said in a statement, “I believed that the City of Brookhaven was not in compliance with the Open
Records act. I asserted that my name should not have been redacted because, as an elected official, I
have no right to privacy and I have nothing to hide.”
CONSOLIDATED TIMELINE:
February 24, 2015
Two female Brookhaven employees report to City Manager Marie Garrett that, a day earlier, Mayor J.
Max Davis sprayed one of them with an aerosol can. One of the women says he sprayed the other in
the buttocks area.
March 17, 2015
Garrett tells City Attorney Tom Kurrie about the complaint. He launches an internal investigation,
interviewing the woman allegedly sprayed.
March 18, 2015
Garrett writes an email to Human Resources Director Rick Stone complaining about the mayor’s
behavior toward her and describing the Lysol incident, which she says is “something that I consider to
be sexual harassment.”
April 27, 2015
Kurrie interviews the sprayed woman again, who says she is “upset about the prospect of her being
associated with this incident in the public media.”
April 28, 2015
Kurrie interviews the witness, who maintains the other woman was sprayed in the buttocks area and
that “she considered the Mayor’s actions to be sexual harassment.” He also interviews Davis, who
says he only sprayed air freshener into the air.
May 13, 2015
Sexual harassment statement released by City Spokesperson Megan Matteucci. Open Records request
is filed for the March 18, 2015 email from Garrett.
Davis & Kurrie both release statements denying any "sexual harassment" incident, investigation or an
EEOC complaint.
Kurrie also releases an edited version of the email from Garrett to Stone about an incident involving
Davis.

May 15, 2015
Kurrie meets privately with John Park and shows him Garrett’s unedited email. After their meeting,
Park sends an email to Kurrie and City Council expressing his concern that documents are being
withheld unlawfully and altering Garrett’s email could be a crime.
May 19, 2015
Davis announces his bid for the House District 80 seat.
May 26, 2015
Council meets in Executive Session with Kurrie to discuss the withheld records and the edited email.
City Council decides to continue withholding records and decides not to disclose the unedited email.
May 26 - June 2, 2015
The media continues to put pressure on Kurrie and City Council to release all public records and the
unedited email. Kurrie refuses stating to a reporter "sue me," "there are families involved," and
"individual's right to privacy outweighs the public's right to know," etc. as justification for nondisclosure.
June 2, 2015
Davis resigns as mayor to run for State House.
June 9, 2015
Another discussion occurs in Executive Session where Kurrie discloses to Council after consulting
with his partners and the Attorney General he has been advised the documents are subject to
disclosure.
June 9, 2015
Rebecca Chase Williams is appointed Mayor. Linley Jones is appointed by Williams to fill her vacant
Council seat.
June 12, 2015
After withholding records for two months, Kurrie finally releases the full, unedited email.
June 15, 2015
The unedited email reveals the incident involving Davis, was described as "sexual harassment" by two
city employees. The content had been originally removed or redacted from the email specifically to
conceal information which, would be damaging to Davis. The unedited email also exposes previous
statements made by Davis and Kurrie were false. The cover up is covered by The Brookhaven Post
and the AJC.
June 15, 2015
John Park releases his emails and a statement documenting the meeting with Kurrie. In his emails,
Park expressed his concerns the documents are being withheld unlawfully and altering the email could
be a crime.
June 16, 2015
Kurrie is forced to resign. In response to controversy over the city’s “cover up” of public records
involving Davis, City Council adopts “Sunshine Resolution” which states they will follow the existing
Open Records Act and Sunshine Laws.

June 17, 2015
An Open Records Request is filed requesting the city release minutes from Executive Session
meetings to verify whether or not previous or current Council members knew about or were involved
in the decision to illegally withhold and alter public records.
June 18, 2015
City releases response to an EEOC claim filed on April 24, 2015 against Davis by a female city
employee. Prior to this being released, Kurrie denied any EEOC claim existed.
Williams states publicly that she saw the unedited email but did not realize what she was looking at.
She also states repeatedly that Council knew nothing about the email having been edited to conceal
information.
June 19, 2015
At a special called meeting, new City Attorney Chris Balch is appointed.
Council members Bates Mattison and John Park ask Council to release minutes from the Executive
Session meetings, in the interest of transparency.
Mayor Williams, Council member Jones, and new City Attorney Balch cite Georgia law stating
Executive Session minutes "shall not be disclosed."
FACTS:

Brookhaven City Attorney Tom Kurrie did knowingly and willfully alter a public document
in an effort to cover-up allegations against Mayor J Max Davis — a felony according to
O.C.G.A. 45-11-1.

Brookhaven City Attorney Tom Kurrie did knowingly and willfully fail or refuse to provide
timely access to public records, see O.C.G.A. 50-18-74(a).

Brookhaven City Attorney released the illegally altered document to the media along with
false statements

Brookhaven City Attorney did not make the decision to conspire to defraud the public and
commit a felony on his own

Brookhaven City Councilmembers John Park, Bates Mattison, Rebecca Chase-Williams, Joe
Gebbia and former Mayor J Max Davis all knew that Kurrie altered the document

Brookhaven City Councilmembers participated in an orchestrated scheme to defraud the

public because they believe it would make the City look bad
Brookhaven City Attorney Tom Kurrie did knowingly and willfully alter public records and
City Council conspired with him to conceal this act from the public, therefore all
communications between City Attorney Kurrie and Brookhaven City Councilmembers John
Park, Bates Mattison, Rebecca Chase-Williams, Joe Gebbia and former Mayor J Max Davis
on this subject should not be privileged due to the crime-fraud exception to the attorney-client
privilege since it was made with the intention of committing or covering up a crime or fraud

The Executive Session(s) were illegal because during the meeting(s) Councilmembers and
City Officials violated the Open Records Act by discussing public records which had been
unlawfully withheld and altered by City Attorney Tom Kurrie

CONCLUSION:
It is for the reasons stated above outlined in this document, I am requesting the opinion of the
Attorney General as to whether Brookhaven violated O.C.G.A. 50-14-3 when they convened an
Executive Session to discuss the unlawful withholding and altering public records (a crime), making
the meeting illegal and invalid.
Furthermore, if you find the Executive Session(s) were illegally held, I am requesting all of the
documents; minutes; notes; recordings and any other items created or discussed in this this illegal
meeting.
Lastly, I am requesting the Attorney General direct the District Attorney to fully investigate the
actions of the Brookhaven City Council, former City Attorney Tom Kurrie and former Mayor J Max
Davis for criminal charges and to file criminal charges against the guilty parties in a Court of Law.
FILE ATTACHMENTS: PDF files of the responsive records in our possession titled:

Brookhaven Open Records Request 4_17_15.pdf

Brookhaven Post Open Records Request 5-22-2015.pdf

Brookhaven Post Open Records Request 6-17-2015.pdf

Brookhaven Post Open Records Request 6-24-2015.pdf

False statements_altered public records.pdf

Full unaltered_redacted Email from Garrett to Stone.pdf

J Max Davis Response.pdf

Kurrie Investigation Report Notes.pdf

Kurrie Investigation Report.pdf

ORR2015_126_EEOC_QzxVIjJm_Redacted.pdf

In closing, I welcome the opportunity to speak with you at your earliest convenience as I know there is
much information enclosed herein, and I can provide more clarity as to the particulars of this
complaint/inquiry. I would also be willing, as your schedule permits, to visit with you in person.
Thank you in advance for your prompt response.

Sincerely,

Trey Benton
Editor/Owner, The Brookhaven Post
404.345.0011 Cell