Follow Us

Fulton County policy suggests both DA Willis, Wade were required to disclose relationship

“Georgia law is pretty specific about what should happen now because of her conflict – whether it tainted the legitimacy of the case, which it has,” former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline opined.

Published: February 16, 2024 11:00pm

A Fulton County policy regarding the disclosure of a romantic relationship with an employee may have applied to both District Attorney Fani Willis and special prosecutor Nathan Wade, yet they testified that they did not inform any county employees of their relationship, according to lawyers observing the case. 

hearing was held on Thursday and Friday regarding Willis’ relationship with Wade and the resulting potential conflicts of interest regarding the case against former President Donald Trump. Willis last year indicted Trump and 18 co-defendants over his efforts to challenge the 2020 election results in Georgia. She had hired Wade as a special prosecutor to pursue the case.  

Co-defendant Mike Roman’s attorney, Ashleigh Merchant, first raised allegations in January regarding Willis and Wade, claiming the pair "engaged in an improper, clandestine personal relationship" and Wade had profited from the case. Wade has been paid roughly $654,000 in legal fees from January 2022 through December 2023, the allegations claimed. 

Willis and Wade have admitted to a "personal relationship," though they say it began after she hired him and that there exists no conflict of interest in the case. Contrarily, defense attorneys for Roman insist the relationship preceded Wade's hiring. 

Judge Scott McAfee, who is presiding over the hearing, on Monday suggested that Willis could be removed from the case, explaining that the allegations against her "could result in a disqualification." 

During their testimonies on Thursday, both Willis and Wade said that their romantic relationship began in early 2022 and ended in summer 2023. Willis testified that she didn't tell anyone on the prosecution team about her romantic relationship with Wade because she keeps her private life private. However, Merchant noted that to contract with someone in Fulton County, there is a requirement to disclose it. 

“Did you disclose your relationship [with Wade] to anybody at Fulton County?” Merchant asked Willis. “No, I don’t think so,” Willis replied.  

Merchant then followed up, “Are you aware that Fulton County requires you to disclose any relationship with someone that you’re doing business with?” Willis responded, “I’m not aware.” 

Prior to Willis’ testimony, Wade testified on Thursday that his contract with Fulton County was renewed in November 2022, after he began his romantic relationship with Willis earlier that year. He said that he didn’t tell anyone in the DA’s office about their romantic relationship and that he didn’t know if Willis told anyone. 

Trump attorney Steve Sadow asked Wade on Thursday, “So as far as you know from personal knowledge, no one in the DA’s team knew? Correct?” “That’s correct,” Wade responded. 

While both Willis and Wade said they kept their romantic relationship private, Fulton County’s policy appears to state that they should have disclosed it. 

According to the Fulton County Government Guidebook: Personnel Policies and Procedures, there is a policy regarding the employment of relatives. The policy states that a “relative” includes “relationships between individuals who are in a consensual romantic, sexual, dating or other intimate relationship, regardless of whether they are cohabitating.” 

The policy states that the county “discourages relationships that could disrupt the work environment or lead to an actual or perceived conflict of interest.” 

According to the policy, before an employment offer can be made to a relative of an employee, “an Appointing Authority must submit a written request for approval to the Chief Human Resources Officer.” The approval request must also show “that the relative is the person best qualified to perform the work required by the position.” 

The “Appointing Authorities are responsible for ensuring that this procedure is followed when hiring the relative of a current employee,” the policy also reads. “Appointing Authorities who extend job offers to relatives of current employees without the approval of either the Chief Human Resources Officer or County Manager may be subject to disciplinary action by the County Manager.” 

Also, “no individual shall be hired, promoted or permitted to transfer into any position where the Appointing Authority, department head or someone who will be in the employee’s direct chain of command is a relative,” according to the policy. “Pre-existing employment relationships falling within the purview of this paragraph will be permitted to continue; however, that exception does not apply to reemployment, promotions, demotions, reassignments, and lateral transfers that occur after the effective date of this Policy.” 

Additionally, per the policy, “No individual shall be hired, reinstated, reemployed, transferred, promoted, demoted or assigned to any position that is under the direct or indirect supervision or control of a relative.” 

“All applicants for employment with Fulton County are required to disclose the names of any relatives currently employed by Fulton County on the application for employment,” the policy also states

According to the policy, if an appointing authority makes an employment offer “to a relative of a current employee, it is the responsibility of the applicant to fully disclose the relationship to the Appointing Authority before the offer of employment is accepted. The intentional failure to disclose a relative relationship constitutes a violation of this Policy and may be grounds for rescission of the offer of employment, non-selection and/or discipline, up to and including termination.” 

Phill Kline, former Kansas attorney general and director of the Amistad Project, told Just the News on Friday that Willis’ testimony on Thursday was “very damaging” and showed the left’s double standard on ethics. 

“This, unfortunately, appears to be common on the left, that they break ethical rules and break the law – like with Joe Biden with the classified documents – willfully,” but then claim they didn’t know their actions were “against the law, or are forgetful now and not sure what happened back then,” Kline said. 

He added that Willis’ “testimony diminishes her credibility on the entirety of this case, not just the facts about the prosecutor. It was a very damaging day for Fani Willis and her office. Georgia law is pretty specific about what should happen now because of her conflict – whether it tainted the legitimacy of the case, which it has,” Kline later said. 

He also noted that “The real substantive issue is it’s clear that Fani Willis doesn't have the skills or the ability to bring a case like this – she should be forced off of it.” 

Fulton County and Wade’s law firm didn’t respond to requests for comment. 

Just the News Spotlight

Support Just the News