Municipal Court Judge Robert Faulkner on Tuesday rejected the ethics complaint filed against Macon City Councilwoman Elaine Lucas over her Facebook posts.
“I’m pleased with the decision, and I think we all knew that it was a frivolous complaint,” Lucas said Tuesday evening. “But this kind of thing has to be stopped. People can’t just complain and interrupt the work that I’m trying to do for my constituents.”
Describing the complaint as the work of an “organized Republican and tea party effort to discredit her,” Lucas alleged that it stemmed from her support for President Barack Obama. She said she would see about taking any legal action in reply.
Faulkner’s decision Tuesday morning says that ultimately, Lucas has the First Amendment right to say what she wants -- but the last line leaves open the possibility of civil suits for libel or slander, which wouldn’t come through Faulkner’s courtroom.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Telegraph
On Sept. 12, local Republican Party leader and “We Are Politics” blog author Bill Knowles filed the complaint, which accused Lucas of violating the city’s ethics code by stirring up racial divisions, alleging conspiracies against her, and describing political opponents as Ku Klux Klan members.
That may be unpleasant, even flatly untrue, without being a city ethics violation, Faulkner decided.
“Based on the complaint, it appears that the Complainant is alleging Ms. Lucas violated the preamble to the requirements of the Code, but there is no indication she is accused of violating the ‘prohibitions,” he wrote.
Faulkner quoted a column by Telegraph columnist and former Macon City Councilman Erick Erickson -- who frequently traded insults with Lucas -- in saying “she has the right to go on Facebook and write what she wants to write.”
That ended Faulkner’s direct involvement.
“The libel and slander laws of the State of Georgia give anyone who is falsely accused or is the butt of an untrue statement the right to proceed civilly against one who makes the untrue statement,” he concluded.
Knowles, reached shortly after Faulkner’s decision was released, accepted it.
“I think that Judge Faulkner ruled in the way that he best could,” Knowles said. “I did what I thought was right for the citizens of Bibb County and Macon.
“I’m of course disappointed in Judge Faulkner’s ruling, but I also respect her First Amendment rights.”
He maintained that Lucas should face some sanction for “defaming good people for no good cause.”
Knowles based his complaint on Lucas’ frequent postings, which describe her “enemies” as “all Republican tea baggers.”
She compared Erickson to a pyromaniac, wishing his “little Hitler-like family” would move to the other side of the world, while calling Telegraph Editorial Page Editor Charles Richardson “a stooge controlled by the good old boy system. He is a token who sold his soul a long time ago.”
She also described a bipartisan group that supported the re-election of Mayor Robert Reichert as a “replacement” for the Ku Klux Klan.
Lucas said Tuesday that she thinks Knowles, Erickson, Richardson and his talk-show partner Kenny Burgamy, and unnamed others have formed a “little association” to harass and intimidate her and that she’ll consider filing lawsuits based on that belief.
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.