Secretary of State Handel Announces Judgment against Atlanta City Councilmember Involving Multiple Violations of Georgia’s Charitable Solicitations Act
Atlanta – Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel today announced a Fulton County Superior Court judgment in the civil action against Atlanta City Councilmember H. Lamar Willis involving multiple violations of Georgia’s Charitable Solicitations Act. In September 2008, Secretary Handel filed a complaint against Willis, alleging that Willis violated state law by failing to register the H. Lamar Willis Foundation as a charitable organization, and failing to properly maintain financial records for the organization.
Based on information obtained by the Secretary of State’s office, Willis accepted approximately $300,000 in contributions to the Foundation, and never registered the organization with the Secretary of State’s office.
“Mr. Willis not only broke Georgia law, but his actions represent a severe breach of ethics and the trust that contributors placed in him,” Secretary Handel said. “Those who manage charitable organizations must operate within the law, and with the highest degrees of ethics and transparency.”
The Superior Court’s judgment requires Willis to pay a civil penalty of $25,000. He is also permanently enjoined from directly or indirectly soliciting or accepting charitable contributions without first registering as a charitable organization or providing proof of exemption, or assisting any other person or entity in soliciting or accepting charitable contributions without confirming that the person or entity is registered or exempt. The court placed several additional requirements on Willis, including that he must also employ the services of a certified public accountant should he engage in future charitable solicitations.
Karen Handel was sworn in as Secretary of State in January 2007. The Secretary of State's office offers important services to our citizens and our business community. Among the office’s wide-ranging responsibilities, the Secretary of State is charged with conducting efficient and secure elections, the registration of corporations, and the regulation of securities and professional license holders. The office also oversees the Georgia Archives and the Capitol Museum.