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News Every Day |

Georgia senators find little oversight over how Fani Willis spends taxpayer dollars: 'Like the Wild West'

Georgia lawmakers heard testimony Friday that caused one Republican senator to express concern that there's little oversight of how Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis uses her $36.6 million budget.

State Sen. Bill Cowsert, a Republican representing Athens and chairman of the committee, questioned Fulton County Commissioner Robb Pitts and Fulton County Chief Financial Officer Sharon Whittmore about how the DA's office receives and spends its funds. The witnesses testified that Willis has broad discretion over those taxpayer dollars, including whether to hire a special prosecutor and how much they should be paid.

"This is sounding to me kind of like the Wild West, very little control from Fulton County over a $36 million budget," Cowsert said after asking several questions about the county budget process. 

"You don't know how much of that is spent on professional services, who is hired, how much they're paid per hour, what their total compensation is. Yet you're being asked to provide $36.6 million a year that you know encompasses a number of those types of independent contractors that you know you're funding with no oversight or control, right?" he asked Whittmore at one point. 

ANTI-TRUMP DA BAILED ON DEBATE TO ‘SCHMOOZE’ WITH CELEBS, IS CHALLENGED TO A REMATCH

"Yeah, the board of commissioners has no oversight over the district attorney," the finance chief answered. 

Pitts testified that Willis has wide discretion over how to spend the funds appropriated for the district attorney's office and said she does not have to get any pre-approval for hiring an independent special counsel to assist with her activities. 

"And [the district attorney] doesn't have to even report back to you how the money was spent or who was hired as an independent contractor and how much they were paid?" Cowsert asked.

"That's correct," Pitts replied. 

ANTI-TRUMP DA'S NO-SHOW AT DEBATE LEAVES CHALLENGER FACING OFF AGAINST EMPTY PODIUM

The Georgia Senate Special Committee on Investigations convened its third meeting on Friday to probe allegations of potential conflicts of interest and potential misuse of public funds by Willis, who indicted former President Trump on conspiracy charges related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.

Willis is up for re-election this year and has denied any wrongdoing. The findings of this legislative probe could inform acts by the Georgia legislature to reform laws or adjust the state appropriations process with the intention of restoring public confidence in the district attorney's office, according to FOX 5 Atlanta.

Georgia's GOP-controlled Senate voted in January to form a special committee to investigate Wilis amid revelations she had an ‘improper’ affair with subordinate counsel. 

The special committee has subpoena power to investigate Willis over allegations she hired special prosecutor Nathan Wade for the case because of their alleged romantic relationship.

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"This is not a political witch hunt; this is a quest for the truth," Cowsert said at the inaugural meeting of the special committee. 

Trump and attorneys for several of his co-defendants have said Willis should be disqualified over the allegations and all charges against them dismissed. 

In January, Trump co-defendant Michael Roman filed court documents alleging that Willis had been having an "improper" affair with Wade, whom she hired to help prosecute the 2024 GOP front-runner. Roman and his lawyers argue the relationship created a conflict of interest and that she benefited financially from it in the form of lavish vacations the two took using funds his law firm received for working the case.

Willis has called the allegations "salacious" and said they have no "merit," though she admitted in a court filing that she and Wade have been "professional associates and friends since 2019." 

After a hearing to consider the allegations, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee ruled that either Willis or her ex-lover Wade must step aside for the case to proceed in Fulton County. The judge also gave Trump and eight co-defendants permission to appeal his order. 

Trump and the co-defendants filed an official notice of appeal in March. A decision from the Court of Appeals on whether to take up the case is expected later this month. 

Fox News Digital's Brianna Herlihy contributed to this report.

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