Fulton County Commissioner Bob Ellis requested Friday that District Attorney Fani Willis disclose information relating to her potential “misuse” of county funds in her decision to appoint her alleged lover, Nathan Wade, as outside counsel in the case against former President Donald Trump.
Bank statements contained in a court filing Friday revealed that Wade purchased two airline tickets in Willis’ name, backing up allegations made in a motion by a Trump co-defendant that she benefited from the “lucrative” contract she awarded Wade when he took her on trips to these locations. Ellis told the Daily Caller News Foundation that “all Fulton county citizens and taxpayers deserve clear and truthful answers” from Willis, who he earlier noted has been “relatively obstinate” in answering questions from commissioners.
He added that it will “ultimately be decided in a court proceeding” whether the information known to date will disqualify Willis from leading Trump’s prosecution, noting that “the average person likely concludes that something isn’t right with all of this.”
Willis was accused of enjoying cruises and vacations that Wade had paid for using county funds garnered from his work as a special prosecutor on Willis’ case against Trump. Wade has earned over $650,000 in legal fees from the county since the start of 2022.
In the letter obtained by the DCNF, Ellis requested Willis provide by Feb. 2 invoices for special prosecutors’ expenses and fees, their contracts with the office, payments from the office, the “professional experience” of each special prosecutor utilized by the office, as well as the “source of funding for any payments to special prosecutors” from Jan. 1, 2021 until now.
The letter also requests Willis provide information relating to “laws, rules, or regulations” that apply to a district attorney’s selection of a special prosecutor.
“Separate from any potential inquiry by the State of Georgia, this situation requires confirmation of whether County funds provided for the operation of your office and its prosecutorial function were used in an appropriate manner, and whether any payments of County funds to Mr. Wade were converted to your personal gain in the form of subsidized travel or other gifts,” the letter to Willis states.
Ellis earlier confirmed to the DCNF that Willis did not ask the Fulton County Board of Commissioners’ permission before hiring Wade, though he noted it “may be a matter of legal interpretation” whether the board’s approval was required.
“There was an ask of her about how much money was being spent on the Trump proceedings,” he told the DCNF. “Essentially the answer was you know, well…’Lady Justice isn’t on a budget.’” (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Fani Willis Handed Lucrative Contracts To Her Alleged Lover’s Law Partner. It’s Starting To Raise Eyebrows.)
Fulton County DA Fani Willis falsely stated Sunday that she paid all special prosecutors working on the case against former President Donald Trump the same hourly rate as her alleged romantic partner, Nathan Wade, documents obtained by the @DailyCaller News Foundation show.🧵
— Katelynn Richardson (@katesrichardson) January 16, 2024
Commissioner Bridget Thorne confirmed to the DCNF that “approval for outside counsel never came through us.”
“Our County attorney tells us that she doesn’t believe Fani Willis needed our approval,” she said.
The county attorney, Soo Jo, did not respond to three requests for comment to clarify her position.
Georgia law, GA Code § 15-18-20, states that the district attorney in each circuit may employ outside counsel “as may be authorized by the governing authority of the county or counties comprising the judicial circuit.”
“There is no requirement that the District Attorney get permission from Fulton County to hire a special prosecutor,” a spokesperson for the Prosecuting Attorneys Council of Georgia told the DCNF, citing their Executive Director Pete Skandalakis. “Fulton County’s Code of Ordinances does not apply to the DA. The DA is a constitutional state officer.”
BREAKING: District Attorney Fani Willis’ alleged romantic partner Nathan Wade paid for plane tickets to Miami and San Francisco in her name, bank statements contained in a Friday court filing made by Wade’s wife in their divorce case show. pic.twitter.com/hc4pC48Kdz
— Katelynn Richardson (@katesrichardson) January 19, 2024
Ellis also requested Willis provide information about the method her office used in determining the hourly rate each special prosecutor earns, as well as the basis for any differentiation of rates in their contracts.
Wade has been paid at a rate of $250 an hour, while the attorney known as Georgia’s top racketeering expert, John Floyd, was initially paid only $150 and was later paid $200 an hour, according to contracts and billing statements obtained by the DCNF.
Willis had falsely claimed Sunday that she paid all three special counsels on the case the same hourly rate.
“I’m a little confused. I appointed three special counsels, as is my right to do, paid them all the same hourly rate. They only attack one,” Willis during remarks Sunday, making an indirect reference to Wade.
The state’s response to Trump co-defendant Michael Roman’s motion to disqualify Fani Willis is also due by Feb. 2, before the hearing Judge Scott McAffee scheduled to consider the issue on Feb. 15.
A spokesperson for Republican Gov. Brian Kemp told the DCNF that “the Georgia General Assembly laid out a specific oversight process for district attorneys that is transparent and unbiased, which the governor supported and signed into law.”
“The governor has repeatedly stated that these allegations are deeply troubling, that evidence should be presented in order for the judge in this case to rule quickly, and that complaints regarding any district attorney’s conduct can be referred to the oversight commission once the legislative process concludes this session and the commission begins full operations,” the spokesperson said.
Willis’ office did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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