Group files ethics complaint against Valdosta’s mayor

Updated: Feb. 9, 2021 at 6:50 PM EST
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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - Several organizations are calling for Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson to be removed from office immediately. It comes after the groups filed an ethics complaint against him.

It all started from comments made on Matheson’s radio talk show.

Group members claim he has violated a few ethics standards under the city’s ordinance.

“On one day, it’s illegal to pay someone to vote, but on the next day, election day, it’s legal to pay someone to canvass, even though they don’t canvass,” said Matheson on his show on Jan. 12 on 92.1. “I’m going to ask, what do they have in common? Large massive unchecked migrant populations.”

His comments accusing Democrats of illegal voter canvassing during last month’s state Senate races and about migrants causing COVID 19 spikes are now at the center of an ethics complaint against him.

“It did not in any way make us look good as a city, and if we stand by and don’t do anything at all, what does that say about us as a city,” said Pastor Darren Neal, president of the NAACP Lowndes County Chapter, one of three local organizations spearheading the complaint.

Neal also was a canvasser during the January elections and helped drive voters to the polls. He said Matheson’s words are painful for the community.

“I must say, I am personally hurt by it. I’m extremely hurt by the comment. We went to great efforts to make sure that every person had the opportunity to vote,” said Neal.

According to the ethics complaint, Matheson and his co-host claimed the large Democratic voter turnout was because votes were bought with financial support that Democrats provided for campaign canvassers.

Those comments were also why the Mary Turner Project joined in the ethics complaint.

“I think we need to have a serious conversation about the impact that media outlets, like the mayor’s, has on the community, as well as what does it mean that an elected official is running a media outlet and making these comments and never held accountable,” said Mark Patrick George, the coordinator of Mary Turner Project.

He said the groups asked to speak with the mayor about his comments, but Matheson refused.

According to the complaint, the groups claim the mayor violated at least six of the core values in City of Valdosta’s Code of Ethics for elected officials.

Those values include being independent, impartial, and responsible to the people and using power of his position for the wellbeing of their constituents.

“I’m hoping the city council does the right thing and takes this complaint seriously. And I think unless we do that, how do we come together as a community? That is the ultimate goal. To have a community that is healthy and good for everybody, that it’s inclusive. We don’t want to contribute to the divide that is already tearing the country and some of our communities apart,” said George.

Read the full complaint and the code of ethics below:

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