Politics & Government

Lucas: GABEO to reorganize after Brooks scandal

A plea deal last month by former state Rep. Tyrone Brooks, D-Atlanta, is causing the state’s largest association of black elected officials to regroup next month at a meeting in Savannah.

Brooks was indicted in 2013 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He was accused of misappropriating nearly $1 million in funds that were supposed to go the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, or GABEO, for which Brooks served as president.

Brooks resigned from the state Legislature in April, hours before a plea deal hearing.

Brooks stepped down from GABEO at the same time he resigned. GABEO interim President Elaine Lucas, a Macon-Bibb County commissioner, said at a news conference Wednesday that Brooks’ legal issues have caused the organization to reassess its priorities and reorganize.

Lucas praised Brooks’ 20 years of service as president, but she also acknowledged that the investigation has damaged GABEO’s reputation and caused low morale among its membership.

“(The legal troubles) have demoralized the organization and put us in a position where we need to rebuild the reputation of the organization,” she said.

Former Macon City Councilman Henry Ficklin, who serves as GABEO’s treasurer, said the money at the center of the investigation was money that had never been turned over to GABEO, nor did its leadership know about its existence. Instead, Brooks put the money in a separate account, Ficklin said.

Ficklin said GABEO and its other officers were investigated by the FBI and cleared of any wrongdoing.

Lucas said the GABEO summit, to be held June 27 in Savannah, will have elections for all offices in the organization. Lucas said she doesn’t plan to seek any of those offices.

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.