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State denies claims in former 21st Century Partnership leader’s lawsuit

The Georgia National Guard is returning fire against MaryTherese Grabowski, who claims she was fired from the Guard for blowing the whistle on repeated misconduct.

The state filed its response Aug. 25 in Cobb County Superior Court, denying nearly all of the claims made in Grabowski’s July 24 lawsuit. Also known as MaryTherese Tebbe, the former WMAZ-TV broadcaster led the 21st Century Partnership from 2006 to 2012.

Most of the state’s response -- which together represents a defense for the Georgia National Guard, the Georgia Department of Defense and the Guard’s Adjutant General Jim Butterworth -- consists of flat denials of Grabowski’s claims of abuse.

In one of the few admissions, the state agreed that Butterworth emailed Grabowski to tell her he was “very happy with her decision to stay” after her job was changed into a lesser position for less pay.

However, the response said that all the defendants “deny any implication that Defendant Butterworth did not have valid concerns about (Grabowski’s) job performance while she was the Director of Public Affairs.”

Grabowski’s lawsuit said she was hired in March 2012 and was fired in August 2013 “in retaliation for her refusal to participate in ... ongoing illegal, unethical, and inappropriate conduct.”

Grabowski’s lawsuit said she was brought into the department in part so she could stop “intense media scrutiny and reports” such as Atlanta’s FOX TV station’s news story that Butterworth had been using Army National Guard helicopters to get to public events, such as delivering footballs to high school games.

Grabowski’s lawsuit said she was blowing the whistle on other abuses, such as Butterworth attending the Paris Air Show when the U.S. Air Force wouldn’t go for budget reasons. Grabowski also criticized Butterworth attending an event with the Atlanta Braves, in which he brought along a staff member, his son, and a friend of his son, which violates rules concerning gifts.

The state’s response said Butterworth paid for “the tickets for anyone he brought with him to the game.”

The state also is fighting Grabowski’s efforts to use the Georgia Whistleblower Act.

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.

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