- Associated Press - Thursday, November 13, 2014

MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) - Cobb County Commission Chairman Tim Lee is looking to have a county ethics board member removed ahead of a hearing on negotiations over the new Atlanta Braves stadium because of a conflict of interest.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Thursday that Lee hired the ex-husband of ethics board member Angeline Fleeman to represent him during the hearing, which is scheduled for Nov. 20.

Lee has been accused of improperly hiring a private attorney and using a private email address to skirt public records laws in preliminary negotiations over the new Atlanta Braves stadium.

County officials voted to have an ethics hearing on the issue because Lee didn’t avoid the appearance of impropriety. Lee’s previous attorney said the chairman shouldn’t face disciplinary action because county code asks officials to avoid the appearance of impropriety, but doesn’t say that they must. Lee’s legal team has said the case should be dismissed on that basis.

Attorney Ben Mathis said ethics litigation is one of his specialty areas of practice and the case is important for his home county. Cobb County is paying Mathis’ firm $145 an hour for Lee’s representation, which Mathis said is a substantial discount from the firm’s regular rate.



The Marietta Daily journal also reported that Lee issued a statement Thursday apologizing to Cobb County residents for the way the stadium negotiations were handled.

“I am sure there are things I could have handled differently, communicated more clearly, and could have done better to give our citizens deeper confidence in this game-changing economic development opportunity for our community,” he said in the statement.

Lee added that in hindsight, he understands it would have been helpful to offer more information about the private negotiations before the announcement was made that the Braves would be moving from Atlanta to Cobb County.

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