Fani Willis’ ex-staffer testifies before GA Senate committee probing DA’s office

A fourth Georgia state Senate investigation committee hearing as part of its probe into alleged misconduct by District Attorney Fani Willis is underway.The Senate Special Committee on Investigations, chaired by Republican state Sen. Bill Cowsert, will consider sworn testimony from witness Amanda Timpson, who served as Willis’ director of juvenile diversion programs but says she was demoted and eventually fired. Cowsert says her termination was after she became a whistleblower and complained about the misuse of funds.Timpson testified that she was subject to “overwhelming retaliation” and “pushback” after notifying her direct boss that Willis’ office was knowingly misusing federal grant funds, which is illegal. Timpson helped to write and apply for a competitive grant focused on programming to help at-risk youth and grant prevention. She testified that when Willis took office in 2021, her new supervisor, Michael Cuffee, told her that he planned to use the funds to purchase “computers, travel and swag” as part of the office’s “rebranding” upon Willis’ administration.NATHAN WADE’S PHONE DATA SHOWS HE MADE MIDNIGHT TRIPS TO FANI WILLIS’ CONDO BEFORE HE WAS HIRED: ATTORNEYWhen Timpson told her boss that those purchases were not permitted under the grant, he persisted in his plans for the purchases, she said. He also told Timpson that Willis requires all her staff to refer to her as “madame” and that the swag and other purchases were Willis’ “vision,” Timpson testified. Timpson said that after serving in the previous district attorney’s administration, she was required to interview again with Willis’ administration to keep her job in December 2020. Nathan Wade, who roughly a year later would be hired as a special prosecutor, was on Timpson’s interview panel, along with Willis and her communications official, Jeff DiSantis.Georgia’s GOP-controlled Senate voted in January to form a special committee to investigate Willis amid the revelations of her romantic affair with Wade.Willis is spearheading the 2020 election interference case against former President Trump. She has been a lighting rod of criticism since the allegations that she had an “improper” affair with special prosecutor Nathan Wade, whom she hired to help prosecute the case. She is not expected to testify on Thursday and has previously called the committee “unlawful,” though the committee has subpoena power to compel her testimony.Previous state Senate committee hearings revealed that oversight of Willis’ $36 million budget was “like the Wild West, very little control,” Cowsert said.At that hearing earlier this month, Fulton County Commissioner Robb Pitts and Fulton County Chief Financial Officer Sharon Whittmore testified that Willis has broad discretion over those taxpayer dollars, including whether to hire a special prosecutor and how much they should be paid.”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?” Cowsart asked Whittmore at one point. Pitts also testified that Willis did not have to get any pre-approval for hiring an independent special counsel to assist with her activities. EMBATTLED DA FANI WILLIS WINS GEORGIA PRIMARY ELECTIONAshleigh Merchant, lawyer for Trump co-defendant Michael Roman, testified at the committee’s first hearing that Willis was awarded a $780,000 increase in the DA’s budget on Sept. 15 2021, through the end of that year, with the next year not to exceed $5 million.The budget increase was just a few months before Wade was hired in November 2021, and roughly eight months before the special grand jury in this case was impaneled in May 2022.She said that the DA claimed this money was to hire extra people to help with the backlog of homicide cases the office was seeing at that time.FANI WILLIS SUGGESTS SHE WON’T TESTIFY IN ‘UNLAWFUL’ GEORGIA SENATE INVESTIGATIONMerchant testified that when she made open records requests to confirm that her office hired new employees and not special contractors, her request was denied by the DA’s office.  CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPWillis won her primary election on Tuesday by a sweeping margin over her Democratic challenger. “Tonight they delivered a strong and a powerful message,” Willis said in her acceptance speech. “They want a district attorney that believes everyone deserves to be safe. And everyone is entitled to some dignity. And it’s a message that’s pissing folks off. But there is no one above the law in this country. Nor is there anyone beneath it.”Fox News’ David Lewkowict and Fox News Digital’s Chris Pandolfo contributed to this report.
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