Coweta District Attorney Pete Skandalakis says the alleged misuse of the Police Officer Standards and Training Council in a flier targeting sheriff’s candidate James Woodruff is a misdemeanor and wouldn’t be prosecuted by his office.
“Based upon the wording of the statute I do not think a crime has been committed and the (attorney general) agrees with me,” Skandalakis said. “In section (b) one must prove that ‘the seal or advertisement for election to any public office in such a manner as to falsely suggest or imply that the person on whose behalf the same is used is at the time a holder of a public office for which a commission bearing said seal is used.’ In this case , even though the advertisement is on behalf of the sheriff and paid by the group Troup Mothers for a Safe Community, there is nothing in the mailer suggesting that either one is a member of the P.O.S.T. commission. Even though this is not a crime, a person can petition the Governor to send a a Cease and Desist letter to those using the seal.”
The Mothers group registered with the Georgia Secretary of State Aug. 8 with local resident Hilda Railey as its listed agent. The group mailed out a flier on Tuesday with false information regarding Woodruff’s certification with POST. The POST logo was on the front and back and a POST staff member told the Daily News that use of the logo without permission was illegal.
Since the action is a misdemeanor, prosecution rests with the Troup County Solicitor General’s office and Markette Baker, who was reelected July 31.
“Mrs. Railey helped me during my campaign for re-election and I was a guest candidate, along with others, at a meet and greet she hosted at her home,” Baker said. “I do not think it is proper for me to offer my legal opinion as Solicitor-General because of a perceived conflict of interest.”
Baker said if someone asked her to investigate the matter she would either defer to the district attorney or send a conflict notice to the Georgia Attorney General’s office and request another solicitor general be appointed to look into the facts in question.