The embattled district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, lost in a runoff election this week after serving as the county’s chief prosecutor for more than two decades.
Fani Willis, a county judge and former deputy district attorney, defeated Paul Howard by earning 73% of the vote, with most precincts reporting as of Tuesday evening.
“Y’all, we made herstory,” Willis said following her victory, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “You have my word, during my tenure as district attorney in Fulton County, we will be a beacon for justice and ethics in Georgia and across the nation.”
Howard, who has not faced a serious primary challenger since 2000, has been the subject of various state ethics investigations and other scandals in recent months.
Last week, he agreed to pay more than $6,000 in fines related to ethics violations stemming from his failure to disclose his status as the CEO of two nonprofit organizations, a position that enabled him to secure $195,000 in grant money from the local government. A separate criminal investigation into the matter is also pending.
“Their arguments have been false, as they were well aware, and were made only to gain political advantage,” Howard said in a statement after admitting to the ethics violations. “The action filed by the commission has always been administrative, and today, they have delivered a death blow to those who raised false messages by disposing of the complaint, merely assessing an administrative penalty.”
Howard is also facing an investigation from the Georgia Bureau of Investigations related to his use of a subpoena to obtain police records in the Rayshard Brooks case.
Brooks, a black man, was shot and killed by a white officer after he stole an officer’s taser and pointed it at police while attempting to flee.
Howard announced nearly a dozen charges against the two officers involved, charging one of them, Garrett Rolfe, with felony murder.
Critics of Howard said the charges filed against Rolfe were a last-ditch ploy to appeal to voters amid the primary challenge he was facing.
“I don’t see how you can serve as the gatekeeper to criminal justice in our community when you have made a deal with the union not to prosecute police officers,” Howard said during a debate earlier this summer.
Willis shot back: “I’m dealing with a very desperate man who know he’s losing.”
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