“Superlawyer” Cape Cited as Questionable Expenditure for a District Attorney

Dealing with the legal ramifications of questionable expenditures and mishandled funds is all in a day’s work for those who work at a district attorney’s office. Paul Howard, District Attorney for Georgia’s Fulton County, is certainly familiar with such issues. Except in this particular case, the potentially criminal behavior has been attributed to the District Attorney, not some “common” criminal.

Federal law states that money confiscated during investigations (usually drug-related) can be used in any programs that will help seize more money (usually more drug work). According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Fulton County’s DA office used such funds – again, intended to fight drug crimes and aid victims – to finance dinners, galas, court fees, college sports tickets, staff celebrations, and an $89 cape with “Superlawyer” printed on it.

The allegations also included the combination into a single account of federal funds meant for specific, separate purposes, which is a federal offense. So what does the DA have to say about his possibly criminal behavior?

Reports say that Howard is defending his appropriation of funds, insisting that he boosts morale with the various extravagances he provides, and that happy workers will be hard workers who will fight crime more effectively.

Right. So how does the cape fit in?

Apparently, Howard has claimed that because he is unable to pay his workers overtime or bonuses, he is offering compensation the only way he can – in the form of festivities and Halloween costumes. In theory, this may sound convincing, but in practice, it falls apart.

In its mission statement, the Fulton County District Attorney’s office expresses a desire “to prosecute professionally and competently…, to advocate for the rights of victims;…to prevent crime; and to create a work atmosphere which allows all employees to achieve their highest potential.” Some of these goals, it seems, are taking precedence over others.

While no one can prove that the “rights of victims” are not served by college football tickets or that “preventing crime” cannot be done with costly superhero accessories, some parties are concerned anyway.

Kelly McCutchen, vice president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, has reportedly expressed worry about the situation. Though the DA office’s actions are technically neither unethical nor criminal, McCutchen is concerned that the various expenditures will not effectively eradicate crime.

Guess he’s never heard of Clark Kent.

The total amount of “questionable” expenditures allegedly comes to more than $2.04 million. Although the ultimate legality of the District Attorney’s actions remains unclear, the investigation itself serves as a warning. Frivolous and unnecessary spending of federal money needs to stop. And the so-called Superlawyers need to go back to fighting crime before it’s time to order a “Superthief” cape.