County: Passport fee whistleblower letter contained 'misleading information'

Nov. 22—Cobb County released a statement Tuesday pushing back on allegations that a whistleblower against Superior Court Clerk Connie Taylor was placed on administrative leave by County Manager Jackie McMorris.

The whistleblower, accounting manager Maya Curry, alleged in a letter to the Board of Commissioners and other county officials last week that Taylor ordered Curry to destroy documents related to Taylor's retention of passport application fees. On Thursday, Taylor was set to return to the county about $83,000 of more than $425,000 she has reportedly collected, but that agenda item was abruptly pulled after the county received the notice from Curry.

Taylor is currently under investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

The county contends that letter contained "misleading information," per Tuesday's statement, referencing the following paragraph:

"On November 17, County Manager Jackie McMorris personally called Ms. Curry to inform her that there is an 'investigation,' that Ms. Curry is on 'administrative leave,' and that 'adverse action' may be forthcoming. Notably, placing Ms. Curry on administrative leave is itself an adverse employment action," the letter from Curry's attorney, state Rep. Stacey Evans, D-Atlanta, reads.

The county's statement disputes that the conversation between McMorris and Curry was related to the passport fee issue. Instead, the county said, the conversation was related to an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaint against Curry involving another employee in the court clerk's office. McMorris — who was previously aware of this complaint — was returning a call from Curry, she said, and any reference to an investigation or administrative leave was related to the EEOC complaint. McMorris was at the time unaware of the allegation of records being destroyed, the statement said.

The county added that because Taylor is an elected official, McMorris did not have the authority to place Curry on leave, and there was no mention of "adverse action."

Chairwoman Lisa Cupid said in a news release, "After a newspaper article shed light on the passport fees generated in the Superior Court Clerk's office, the Clerk brought forth an agenda item to return a portion of those fees to the county's general fund. The Clerk withdrew that item after an attorney sent a letter to the board outlining allegations from an employee in her office. We've since learned the GBI is looking into those allegations, and I look forward to this matter being rectified and the county getting answers on whether the general fund is due any of those fees."

The MDJ has reached out to Evans, Curry's attorney, for comment.