oral defamation, in which someone tells one or more persons an untruth about another which untruth will harm the reputation of the person defamed. Slander is a civil wrong (tort) and can be the basis for a lawsuit. Damages (payoff for worth) for slander may be limited to actual (special) damages unless there is malicious intent, since such damages are usually difficult to specify and harder to prove. Some statements such as an untrue accusation of having committed a crime, having a loathsome disease, or being unable to perform one’s occupation are treated as slander per se since the harm and malice are obvious, and therefore usually result in general and even punitive damage recovery by the person harmed. Words spoken over the air on television or radio are treated as libel (written defamation) and not slander on the theory that broadcasting reaches a large audience as much if not more than printed publications.
Rinker and Enterkin, both openly gay, have been vocal in Archibong’s recent ethics fine of $250 for paying her brother some $11,000 over several years. Creative Loafing has some good back story on the battles within this race.
Archibong has asserted she and her brother did not benefit because the money was simply being transferred from her brother to a vendor who did not have a checking account. And because they did not benefit, Archibong says she did not have any reason to disclose.
Enterkin was dismayed by what she considered a “slap on the wrist” from the Ethics Commission by issuing only a $250 fine.
In a response to Creative Loafing, she said, “As a resident and taxpayer, I’m very disappointed that Incumbent Natalyn Archibong paid her brother over eleven thousand taxpayer dollars ($11,013.46, to be precise) and failed to disclose it until an ethics charge was filed against her. Archibong (an attorney) should easily understand basic ethics laws.
“The voters in District 5 deserve a councilmember who will maintain high ethical standards and who will not put family members on payroll. After committing such an egregious ethical lapse, I am dismayed that the head of the Ethics Board would agree to such a meager $250 fine. Archibong’s settlement and admittance speaks volumes about her priorities. I encourage all residents of District 5 to think long and hard about who best shares their values as they prepared to cast their ballot on November 5th.”
Enterkin also went after Matthew Cardinale, founder and editor of Atlanta Progressive News website and vocal supporter of Archibong, calling him a “paid operative” of Archibong after he wrote a story critical of Enterkin. Cardinale himself is no stranger to lawsuits — he successfully sued pro se the Atlanta City Council all the way to the state Supreme Court — statingthe city violated the Open Meetings Act by taking votes behind closed doors.
On Oct. 30, Rinker issued a statement that he was planning to introduce new legislation if elected calling for more transparency on the city council and accused Archibong of several more ethics violations:
As our elected representative, Councilwoman Archibong wants to receive a taxpayer funded salary of $60,000 a year. But it’s the amount of money the Councilwoman paid out to family members, clients, and a man that lives with her that I’ve heard the most about from constituents.
During her 12 years on the Atlanta City Council, Councilwoman Archibong has, among other things:
Recently paid her brother, Warren Mosby, a political consultant, and his company over $11,000 of taxpayer money as a “pass through” to a client of her law firm. A client she KNEW was in debt to the City of Atlanta.
Councilwoman Archibong paid her neice, Brittany Mosby, $6,000 in taxpayer money to create a 6-page document instructing staffers on how to answer phones and emails.
Councilwoman Archibong paid a man who has lived with her for the past 5 years from our her council budget over $20,000 of taxpayer money.
Councilwoman Archibong failed to disclose these payments to family members and was fined by the Atlanta Ethics board for this infraction.
But we now have a choice.
Today, I propose a new addendum to the Atlanta City Council ethics legislation – one that most of the families and businesses I’ve spoken with believe is just plain old common sense:
My first piece of legislation will be to strengthen our city ethics rules that Family members of elected officials should not personally profit from taxpayer monies simply because they are related to a politician. So I propose a ban on payments to immediate family members of elected officials – whether serving as a “pass through” or other entity, and I will ban any payments to those who are in collection to the City of Atlanta – like the bankruptcy law firm client of Councilwoman Archibong that resulted in her ethics fine. And if elected to the Atlanta City Council on Tuesday, Nov. 5th, I’ll personally propose the legislation.
But until then I call on my opponents, including Councilwoman Archibong, to support a common sense solution to the abuse of taxpayer money and trust.”
Enterkin and Rinker have also accused Archibong of being consistently late as well as missing many city council meetings — each saying she has missed 80-90 percent of council meetings.
To read GA Voice interviews with Archibong, Enterkin and Rinker as well as the fourth opponent, John Paul Michalik, about LGBT issues and the city council race, click here.
UPDATE 4:18 p.m. from Matt Rinker on the lawsuit: “I stand by our claim that Natalyn Archibong has the worst attendance record on the Atlanta City Council, as supported by the City Council’s own meeting minutes. The lawsuit is a desperate move by a desperate politician and her attorney’s to hide the truth about her record from voters.
“As someone who is asking voters to give her a $60,000 a year salary, and who has been in public office since 2001 – she should know that actually showing up to city council meetings and committee meetings is step one in fixing the problems in our community. She has largely failed to do that. Our families and our businesses deserve better than part-time representation by someone who doesn’t care enough to show up.”
UPDATE 4:56 p.m. from Christian Enterkin on the lawsuit: “It is appalling that Natalyn Archibong would attempt to block my rights to campaign just days before the election. Instead of defending her public record, she has decided to waste MORE taxpayer dollars, and occupy the precious time of a Superior Court Judge. If Ms. Archibong was fighting as hard for District 5 as she is to maintain her seat, we would not be here today.
“I am running for Atlanta City Council because the citizens of Atlanta deserve a councilmember that will listen to the voters and will keep the residents best interests in mind instead of abusing their authority for their own personal gain. Everything that has come out of our campaign has been factual. I encourage everyone to do their own research.”
Photo: Atlanta City Council District 5 incumbent Natalyn Archibong has taken her two openly gay candidates to court today, accusling them of slander. Archibong has held the post since 2001. (file photo)