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Willis Threatens APN with Lawsuit as Ethics Complaint Filed
(APN) ATLANTA -- Late Monday evening, September 17, 2012, Atlanta Progressive News revealed the existence of an email which shows the CEO of FogFuels announcing that Councilman Lamar Willis (Post 3-large) had been appointed to the company’s team as a government liaison only weeks before Willis pushed a sole source contract with FogFuels before the City Council.
Mr. Willis has now made two threats to APN that he will file lawsuits alleging libel as a result of the article. Upon receiving Willis’s first email, APN made an update including a statement from Willis and a couple minor corrections to the original article. Not satisfied, Willis reiterated his threat in a second email; however, the paragraphs he cites as libelous are, in fact, completely factual.
In Willis’s first email, he wrote, “Your failure to remove said article will leave me no other option than to seek all legal remedies available to me under the law.”
In Willis’s second email, he wrote that APN’s response to the first email, “clearly leaves me with no other option than to immediately proceed with legal action against you and your publication!”
Willis also left two voice messages for APN, including one at around 1:30 in the morning, and another at around 8am. An attorney for FogFuels also left a message for APN this morning demanding that the article be removed.
APN has also posted a copy of the FogFuels email online: bit.ly/OVgFhq
As previously reported by APN, the email reads as follows: “Steve Hornyak will be officially introduced to the team as part of our new initiative on the Commercial Operations side of FogFuels as well [sic] Councilman Lamar Willis of the City of Atlanta on the Government side.” CEO Paul Marshall authored the email that, according to the source who provided it, was sent to other FogFuels employees.
“Thank you for your attention to these new appointments. Their profiles will be made available shortly. This information as always is private and confidential under the NDA and not for public consumption until it is appropriate for the public domain,” Marshall wrote.
APN has also filed an ethics complaint with the Ethics Office of the City of Atlanta as of this morning through an online complaint submittal system called The Network: Web Reporting System, and included a link to the email with the complaint. The confirmation number is 2012918CWR092433.
Willis takes issue with certain specific paragraphs in the APN article. APN will at this time address those paragraphs and explain why they are factually correct.
First, Willis complains about: "An email dated August 03, 2012, obtained by APN, with the subject line ‘New team Members,’ shows that Willis had been appointed to a position with FogFuels as a government liaison by the time Willis introduced resolution 12-R-1147. A copy of the email is available here: bit.ly/OVgFhq"
However, that is what the email shows, so no correction is warranted.
Second, Willis complains about: "Willis failed to disclose to the City that he had been appointed as a government liaison for FogFuels; and failed to recuse himself from voting, voting yea on the resolution and introducing it."
However, Willis did not make any such disclosure, so no correction is warranted.
Third, Willis complains about: “"... he was found to have stolen money for personal gain from a purported foundation he ran that was in fact never registered as a tax exempt organization." The preceding text is, “In a related complaint filed by former Secretary of State Karen Handel...”
However, that is what the Handel complaint, and a preceding investigation by Handel’s office, found. A copy of the complaint, which is quoted in the APN article, is available here: bit.ly/PnKMz4. Therefore, no correction is warranted.
Fourth, Willis complains about: "As it turns out, Willis may not have been Vice President of Sales, but according to the CEO, he was part of the company’s ‘team’ at the same time that he was part of the team that is the City Council and is supposed to represent the interests of the citizens and taxpayers of Atlanta."
However, that is what the email from the CEO stated, that he had been appointed to the company’s team. Therefore, no correction is warranted.
Fifth, Willis complains about: “"The source also stated that a ‘sitting State Senator’ had been sitting in the governmental liaison position with FogFuels before leaving over ethical concerns, and prior to being replaced by Councilman Willis."
However, that is what the source stated, so no correction is warranted.
Shortly after this article went to print, APN received an email from Kent Antley, an attorney for FogFuels, who claims: "The email you quote was simply introducing Mr. Willis to the FogFuels team because Mr. Willis was willing to support FogFuels’ proposal to the City."
However, attorneys can say a lot of things when they are trying to defend their client. Antley's assertion is simply neither believable nor credible. First of all the email said that Willis was to be introduced as a part of the FogFuels "team." Second, it referred to Willis's addition to the team as a "new appointment." Third, it stated that his profile would be made available. It does not seem truthful that Marshall was simply referring to Willis's willingness to support FogFuels; if that were the case no appointment, team membership, or profile would have been necessary or appropriate.
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