CONYERS -- Post 1 Commissioner Oz Nesbitt lashed out at political watchdog Sam Smiley at Tuesday's Board of Commissioners meeting following discussion of the county's new health and life insurance contracts, which were recommended by Resurgens Risk Management.
Commission Chairman Richard Oden made a motion to approve a contract with Coventry for the county's medical insurance coverage, with a second from Commissioner Oz Nesbitt. Commissioner JaNice Van Ness was opposed.
Nesbitt, apparently reacting to a comment by Smiley, interrupted the agenda by calling for a point of discussion, saying that the BOC follows parliamentary procedure and allows for public comment at the end of each meeting.
"I don't appreciate Mr. Smiley this morning who gives an outburst as to how he thinks these commissioners should vote," he said.
Nesbitt said Smiley "had his opportunity through the election and he was unsuccessful," referring to Smiley's bid for the Republican nomination for the Post 1 seat in the July primary election. Smiley lost to Tom Harrison, who will face Nesbitt in the November General Election.
Nesbitt also said he expected Smiley to "continue to try to contaminate the minds of the people of Rockdale County through BOCWatch," which is Smiley's website.
Smiley's comment was not audible throughout the meeting room at the Rockdale Assembly Hall, and Smiley said later that those seated around him had heard nothing.
"I didn't say anything audible," Smiley said. "Oz was watching me as this discussion came up, and I probably mouthed something like 'Come on, Oz, go ahead and second it.' Obviously, Oz was watching me and reacted to that and that's how it went."
Smiley surmised that Nesbitt's reaction was due in part to the fact that he filed a campaign finance complaint against Nesbitt in August alleging that Nesbitt failed to report an in-kind campaign contribution he received from Resurgens in June. Nesbitt subsequently voted in July in favor of a contract with Resurgens to provide insurance and benefits consulting services to the county.
Smiley spoke at a commission meeting in August asking that the county attorney review its vote for Resurgens and that the vote be recalled until questions about the campaign contribution and potential conflict of interest had been resolved.
Smiley's complaint, filed with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, alleged that Resurgens and CEO Willie Burks held a fundraiser with a minimum value of $300 for Nesbitt at the Resurgens offices at Colony Square in Atlanta on June 7. That campaign contribution was not reported by Nesbitt on the June 31 quarterly disclosure, Smiley claimed.
Chairman Oden had received a $250 contribution from Resurgens in May, but that contribution was refunded on June 4.
On July 24, the BOC voted 2-1 to approve a $60,000-per-year contract with Resurgens, with Post 2 Commissioner JaNice Van Ness opposed.
At the time, Van Ness said she believed the request for proposal process with Resurgens had been tainted by the fact that Resurgens appears to have at least attempted to sway the votes of the commissioners.
In addition to the campaign contributions, the fact that Rockdale Chief of Staff Greg Pridgeon's son, Gregory Pridgeon II, worked for Resurgens at the time the RFP process was begun has been a concern for Van Ness. The chief of staff was on the committee that recommended Resurgens for the contract, she said.