An Atlanta judge criticized Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis last September after she hosted a Democratic party fundraiser for an opponent of one of the targets of her investigation.
Then-Georgia State Senator Burt Jones — who now serves as Georgia’s Lieutenant Governor — has been named as an unindicted co-conspirator in Willis’ indictment against Trump and 18 of his advisers, lawyers and associates. While Jones is not currently facing charges, a special counsel is currently investigating the matter.
While Jones was running for the lieutenant governor position, Fani Willis hosted a fundraiser for his Democratic opponent, Charlie Bailey. Willis also donated to Bailey’s campaign earlier in the year.
“I suspect given the list of good Democratic district attorneys in this state that we can find somebody who doesn’t have a conflict and hasn’t hosted a fundraiser for either one,” Jones’ attorney William Dillon argued in court last September while attempting to have Willis removed from the case due to conflict of interest. “Because certainly if somebody hosted a fundraiser for Senator Jones, the attorney general shouldn’t nominate that person either. Find somebody who doesn’t have a dog in the hunt. Fani Willis had a dog in this hunt.”
While Willis was ultimately allowed to proceed with the case, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney criticized the Fulton County DA and admitted that her actions appear partisan. “It’s a ‘What are you thinking?’ moment,” McBurney said. “The optics are horrific. If you are trying to have the public believe that this is a nonpartisan, driven by the facts – I’m not going to critique decisions because the decision was made,” he continued.
“But if we are trying to maintain confidence that this investigation is pursuing facts in a nonpartisan sense… no matter who the district attorney is, we follow the evidence where it goes, and ignore the fact that I hosted a fundraiser for the political opponent of someone I’ve just named a target. That strikes me as problematic.”
“Using the title of your office and having on social media that you as this political office holder are holding a fundraiser for the opponent of someone that this political office is investigating, I don’t know that it’s an actual conflict, but I use that phrase: ‘What were you thinking?’” the judge said.