Gov. Nathan Deal on Tuesday said he is suspending DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis, accepting the recommendation of a bi-partisan panel the governor appointed.
Ellis was indicted last month on 15 counts, including extortion, conspiracy and theft by taking charges. On Tuesday, Deal appointed DeKalb County Commission Chairman Lee May as the interim CEO.
Last week, Deal today appointed Rockdale County CEO Richard A. Oden and Clayton County Commission Chairman Jeffrey E. Turner to a panel charged with determining whether the indictment against Ellis “relates to and adversely affects his ability to perform his official duties.” By law, Attorney General Sam Olens filled the third position on the review panel, according to the governor’s office.
“I agree with the bipartisan panel of elected officials that the allegations against Burrell Ellis directly relate to and adversely affect his ability to carry out his duties as DeKalb CEO,” Deal said in a statement. “I will therefore sign an executive order to suspend him from office until his term ends or until the case against him is adjudicated. The responsibility to suspend and replace elected officials is one that I do not relish, but one I will not shy away from.
“The laws of Georgia give the governor the authority to appoint an interim official, but with my appointment, I will respect the spirit of the local statute which calls for the commission chairman to succeed the CEO should the office come open,” Deal added. “I gave this appointment thoughtful consideration and I was looking for a leader who had already won approval from DeKalb voters and knows how the county operates. The new CEO meets these criteria, and I thank him for his willingness to serve.”