Fani Willis Whistleblower Claims Misuse of Grant Money Was Part of “Madame’s Vision”

May 23, 2024   |   Tags:

(The Epoch Times)—A former staffer at Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’s office told a Georgia Senate hearing Thursday that she was wrongfully fired after blowing the whistle on plans by Ms. Willis’s office to misuse a federal grant worth nearly half a million dollars that was meant to help at-risk youth but was instead earmarked for ineligible expenses like travel, computers, and “swag.”

Amanda Timpson, former grant project manager at Ms. Willis’s office, told the Georgia Senate Special Committee on Investigations on May 23 that in the course of her work supervising the administration of federal grants, she became aware of “irregularities” and “problems” in the way the grant money was going to be spent.

The $488,594 grant was earmarked for intervention strategies that could dissuade youth from joining gangs in Fulton County, specifically for the establishment of the Fulton County Center of Youth Empowerment and Gang Prevention. The grant remains open and the center has not been built.

Ms. Timpson testified that when Ms. Willis took office in 2021, her then-supervisor Michael Cuffee, a former campaign aide to Ms. Willis, told her he planned to use the grant money in a way that was explicitly prohibited by the rules governing grant administration.

“He articulated that he wanted to spend the grant on computers, travel, and swag,” Ms. Timpson said, adding that Mr. Cuffee said he wanted some of the money to be spent on promotional items like pins, coffee mugs, and T-shirts as part of the Fulton County DA’s office “rebranding” after the election of Ms. Willis.

Ms. Timpson said she quickly interjected and clarified to Mr. Cuffee that the grant funds could only be used on expenses that were specific to programming requirements, namely to help at-risk youth.

Investigative committee chairman Sen. Bill Cowsert asked about Mr. Cuffee’s reaction when Ms. Timpson told him the way he wanted to spend the grant funds “was illegal.”

“Initially, he let me know that it was, um—the employees in the DA’s office called Ms. Willis ‘Madame’—so he let me know that it was ‘Madame’s Vision’ and I basically said ‘I understand that but it’s not what the grant says,’” Ms. Timpson testified.

A request for comment on Ms. Timpson’s allegations sent to the Fulton County DA’s office was not returned.

‘Madame’s Vision’

The hearing was part of the special committee’s investigation into Ms. Willis and allegations of impropriety after it was revealed she engaged in a romantic relationship with special prosecutor Nathan Wade, whom she hired to help prosecute an election interference case against former President Donald Trump.

Previous hearings before the GOP-controlled committee revealed that there was, as Mr. Cowsert said, “very little control” and oversight of Ms. Willis’ $36 million budget.

President Trump, who has pleaded not guilty in the case, has alleged that the charges are politically motivated and has called for Ms. Willis to be removed from the case.

During her testimony on Thursday, Ms. Timpson said that she persisted in her opposition to what she described as planned misuse of the grant funds at weekly meetings. In retaliation for flagging the intended misuse of the grant funds, she said she was shut out of the weekly meetings, intimidated, and subsequently fired for what she suggested was retaliation.

As resistance built to her objections about the planned misuse of grant funds, Ms. Timpson testified that she notified Ms. Willis of the situation by email—but that the email was ignored.

Ms. Timpson then said she had a meeting with Ms. Willis on July 26, 2021, during which she notified Ms. Willis that her objections to the grant appropriation were meant in good faith to protect the integrity of the grant allocation and that of Ms. Willis’s office itself.

The whistleblower added that, when she articulated her objections to the way Mr. Cuffee planned to spend the grant money, she was cut off by Ms. Willis and demoted—effective immediately—as punishment for persisting with her view that the grant funds should not be used in line with Ms. Willis’s vision.

‘Funny Style Business’

During Thursday’s testimony, Ms. Timpson said that she had another in-person meeting with Ms. Willis on Nov. 19, 2021, to discuss the grant fund appropriation.

She said she decided to record the meeting on her phone, fearful of what type of retaliation bringing up the intended grant fund misuse would trigger, because the last time she did so she was demoted.

Ms. Timpson said that she wanted to make Ms. Willis aware that there was more “funny style business” going on with grant appropriation that she became aware of. Ms. Willis told her that she “didn’t disagree” with her and that she “wasn’t necessarily wrong,” adding that sometimes things take a long time to get to her, per Ms. Timpson’s testimony.

A copy of this recording was obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

“He wanted to do things with grants that were impossible, and I kept telling him, like, ‘We can’t do that,’” Ms. Timpson is heard telling Ms. Willis at the Nov. 19, 2021, meeting, per the recording. “He told everybody … ‘We’re going to get MacBooks, we’re going to get swag, we’re going to use it for travel.’ I said, ‘You cannot do that, it’s a very, very specific grant.’”

“I respect that is your assessment,” Ms. Willis responded. “And I’m not saying that your assessment is wrong.”

Ms. Willis apologized to Ms. Timpson later in the conversation, saying that Mr. Cuffee had “failed” her administration.

During Thursday’s testimony, Ms. Timpson said she had a meeting on Jan. 14, 2021, with her new supervisor, Ramona Toole, during which she said she told Ms. Toole “everything” about the matter, including her allegation that she was intimidated and demoted for whistleblowing.

Ms. Timpson then said that she believes the conversation she had with Ms. Toole, whom she described as a close ally of Ms. Willis, went directly to Ms. Willis, while suggesting that Ms. Willis then ordered for her to be fired.

Ms. Timpson said she was abruptly terminated, ostensibly because she was an at-will employee and her services were no longer needed, and escorted out of the building by seven armed investigators.

An official separation didn’t come until two months later, she said, adding that it just stated “employee discharged.”

She also alleged that Ms. Willis made “completely slanderous and libelous statements” about her that affected her ability to find a new job because prospective employers could find those remarks relatively easily and viewed her as “a gamble.”

Ms. Timpson, who has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit that is pending, said that she applied for over a thousand jobs until landing in her current position.

While Ms. Willis’s office did not respond to a request for comment on Ms. Timpson’s allegations, her office provided a statement to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in August 2022 in response to the lawsuit, calling Ms. Timpson a “holdover from the prior administration” and that “all of her supervisors found her performance to be inadequate.”

Ms. Timpson testified on Thursday that her performance on the job never drew any objections from any supervisors—with the exception of her whistleblowing.

The post Fani Willis Whistleblower Claims Misuse of Grant Money Was Part of “Madame’s Vision” appeared first on 🔔 The Liberty Daily.


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