By Joe Johnson
The woman who has headed Athens-Clarke County’s Operational Analysis Office the past six years reportedly has filed a discrimination complaint against Mayor Kelly Girtz and County Manager Blaine Williams with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Stephanie Maddox, the county’s internal auditor since July 2015, did not respond to requests for comment Thursday and Friday.
However, the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement on Friday issued a news release confirming the complaint.
According to the release, Maddox filed a complaint with the AADM last month concerning unspecified actions by Girtz and Williams against Maddox in retaliation for Open Records Act request for documents the auditor had made last year.
“After looking further into the matter, AADM believes it is pertinent to bring this matter to the attention of the public for several reasons,” the AADM states in its release.
“As Internal Auditor, an essential part of Maddox’s duty is to review and investigate all accounts, departments, and operations in our local government to ensure the validity and legality of their financial records and activity,” the news release states. “However, Maddox has allegedly experienced retaliation and intimidation from colleagues and other ACC officials—specifically Mayor Girtz and Manager Williams—making it difficult to perform her duties and maintain accountability within our local government.
“But, in October 2018, Auditor Maddox submitted an open records request for information regarding the 2018 Athens-Clarke County Compensation Study. Auditor Maddox alleges that Manager Williams interfered with her lawful request and intimidated her into rescinding it,” according to the release. “Maddox claims that in early 2019, Mayor Girtz targeted her further for the 2018 records request. Then, in 2020, after a year of working within a culture of fear and intimidation, Auditor Maddox filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission racial discrimination complaint against Mayor Girtz and Manager Williams.”
Williams did not respond to a request for comment.
Girtz said, “To maintain the integrity of an ongoing investigation, I do not have anything to provide at this time.”
A spokesman for the EEOC investigation said he could not comment on the matter.
“Under federal law, possible charges (complaints) made to the EEOC are strictly confidential, and we are prohibited from commenting on them, furnishing any information on them, or even confirming or denying the existence of such a charge,” EEOC Public Affairs Specialist James Ryan said in an email response to Classic City News.
“Only when and if we file suit are we allowed to furnish any information. At that point, of course, it has become public court record,” he said.
As a Charter officer, the internal auditor’s job is integral for ensuring justice in all government operations.
For example, in 2019 the results of an audit of the county jail audit revealed several areas in need of improvement and identified ways to resolve them.
“This is just one example of why Auditor Maddox’s work is so important to our community,” the AADM stated in its release. “An auditor ensures accountability and transparency. When these duties are obstructed, the entire community suffers as a result.”
According to the AADM, Maddox believes that she has been targeted and traumatized by her peers over the past two years simply for doing her job and keeping the government accountable.
Maddox was appointed the county’s internal auditor in July 2015. Prior to that she served as management analyst in the Office of Operational Analysis and budget analyst in the Finance Department.
The Mayor and Commission is scheduled to decide on the reappointment of Maddox at a special called meeting on June 15.
The AADM has scheduled a press conference with Maddox to discuss her concerns publicly at 12:30 p.m. June 8 at the Athens-Clarke County Library on Baxter Street.