State Sen. David Lucas has been appointed president of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials as the organization regroups after its former leader was sentenced to prison on fraud charges.
Lucas, D-Macon, along with other various officers were voted in during the organization's board meeting Saturday in Gordon. During the meeting, GABEO members also agreed to updated bylaws and a new fiscal policy, said Macon-Bibb County Commissioner Elaine Lucas, who is David Lucas' wife.
The changes come after former GABEO President Tyrone Brooks, a former Atlanta state representative, was sentenced to prison last year after being convicted of mail, tax and wire fraud. Brooks was accused of using more than $1 million in donations from GABEO and another organization for personal gain.
Elaine Lucas, who had served as GABEO's interim president, said the weekend board meeting was productive for the group that supports civil rights issues and minority elected officials.
"We've got the organization back intact," said Elaine Lucas, who was named chairwoman of GABEO's membership committee. "We've updated the bylaws, put in a new fiscal policy, all of those things to ensure we don't get in trouble, all of the checks and balances to make sure nobody can misrepresent our organization."
David Lucas said he has two priorities for GABEO: to make its operations more professional and to reach out with technical assistance to Georgia's black elected officials.
"There will be one checking account," he said. Part of what got Brooks in trouble were allegations that the organization had two accounts, one of which was a secret one under his personal control.
David Lucas also wants to hire a full-time executive director to handle the organization, leaving policy to elected officials.
"We will be policy makers," he said. "We will set policies rather than try to run day-to-day operations."
The senator also said there will be a greater focus on mending fences with corporate sponsors.
"The other focus is trying to help those black elected officials in these small communities where they get elected, and then other folks and other forces go to work to try and take them out of office even though they got elected by the electorate," he said.
The city of Gordon and its mayor, Mary Ann Whipple-Lue, is an example, he said.
She and council members have been locked in lawsuits with each other for several years.
But GABEO also will help with more technical assistance such as helping black elected officials know where to get grants, for example, and what kind of state programs and money are available to their cities and counties.
Lucas said he aims to "make GABEO a vibrant force in Georgia politics."
Also elected to various positions at the board meeting were Douglasville City Councilwoman LaShun Burr Danley as vice president, Putnam County Commissioner Janie Reid as secretary and Baldwin County Commissioner Emily Davis as treasurer.
Telegraph writer Maggie Lee contributed to this report. To contact writer Stanley Dunlap, call 744-4623 or find him on Twitter@stan_telegraph.