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Thursday, July 21, 2011

City's ethics officer resigns to take job with Georgia Supreme Court

Atlanta's ethics officer says she's leaving City Hall for a clerk job across the street at the Georgia Supreme Court.

Ginny Looney, who became the city's inaugural officer in 2003 and was reappointed to a second term two years ago, told the Board of Ethics the news last Friday and notified Mayor Kasim Reed and the Atlanta City Council today.

In a letter to city officials obtained by CL, Looney said the job has been "challenging, engaging, satisfying, and never dull." She's accomplished all she intended, she writes, and the time has come for "someone with fresh energy to work in the position." Her new job at the state Supreme Court offers her the chance to "influence important legal issues and policies" and "leaves time at the end of the work day for family and friends. "I feel fortunate I am in good health and can make the change at this time," she says.

While at City Hall, Looney developed the city's web-based disclosure filing system and helped craft policies regarding gifts, travel and campaign donation solicitations. In addition to setting up the city's 24/7 ethics hotline, she also improved the city’s financial disclosure filing rate from a ho-hum 77 percent in 2002 to 98 percent in 2010. By her own estimates, she advises city officials nearly three to four times each week on ethical issues and has helped the Board of Ethics issue nearly 40 formal advisories — all on a very lean budget.

Prior to joining the city, the University of Georgia law school graduate worked for more than 10 years as a clerk to Chief Justice Norman Fletcher of the Georgia Supreme Court. She also worked several years with private firms as a litigation assistant and associate. Before becoming a lawyer she worked as a reporter, university researcher, and project director for the Alabama and Georgia Civil Liberties Unions.

The Board of Ethics is expected to announce the formation of a search committee at its meeting this evening. Her successor, who's expected to be selected before the end of the year, must be an Atlanta resident, active member of the Georgia Bar Association and have five years experience in the the practice of law.

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