At least one person has taken exception to the fact the Newton County Public Works department cleared the driveway of State Representative Doug Holt's Social Circle home on Monday.
Holt had agreed to pay the county for the work, which would allow him to be able to travel to Atlanta to participate in the legislature's opening session, but an e-mail tip to CBS Atlanta led to a video news team showing up on his doorstep Tuesday morning asking questions. Holt called The News shortly after the visit to inform the paper and offer an apology to residents who might be offended.
"I let myself get too anxious into getting into town, and I apologize for that. I can understand the perception," Holt said Tuesday.
Holt said he originally called Chairman Kathy Morgan Monday to ask her for a list of private contractors to clear his driveway. Morgan later called back and offered the county's services, because Holt needed to go to Atlanta for official government work. Holt agreed, saying that he would pay for the cost of the manpower and materials.
When asked if it was a gray area, Holt responded: "Maybe it's a gray area, but being a public official, the perception to the general public is the most important thing. It was an error in judgment."
Morgan confirmed the details of the conversation and said the two discussed the matter and agreed it was appropriate, because Holt needed to go to Atlanta on official county business and he agreed to pay for the services.
"I think that was a reasonable request. It's an emergency situation, it's not something we would normally do," Morgan said. "He is a citizen of the county. If it was an emergency situation for a resident, we would go get that person out. Having our state representative get where he needs to be is just as important as anything else. We were having to go and pick up key individuals to get them into work at the county.
"Maybe it was a lapse of judgment on my call, but he does represent us and our citizens."
The state legislature ended up cancelling its Tuesday afternoon session.