NOTE: This story has been updated to include the reason for email redactions, as provided at the time of their release by the Open Records Department.

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WFXG) - FOX54 has learned several former Augusta-Richmond County city leaders had access to city emails well after leaving office.

Through an open records request, we found former mayor Hardie Davis, Jr., commissioner Ban Hasan, and commissioner Dennis Williams had access and sent emails after leaving office. Former commissioner John Clarke had access, but did not send any emails after leaving office.

According to the City, and Commissioners Clarke, Williams, and Hasan's email accounts were deactivated Feb. 8. Hardie Davis's email accesss was disabled on Jan. 12. His email address is still active, but all incoming messages are being forwarded to Mayor Garnett Johnson.

We've provided those emails for you to read below.

Former Mayor Hardie Davis, Jr.:



Former Commissioner Ben Hasan:



Former Commissioner Dennis Williams:


According to officials we spoke with, the city's IT department had an internal policy for disabling email access. However, no official policy was ever put in place. They also confirmed with FOX54 that a termination policy does exist for city employees, but did not apply to elected officials.

As one could imagine, official city emails can, and often do, contain sensitive information. A new policy was put in place on Feb. 15, 2023. Days later, FOX54 filed an open records request asking about that email access. The city representative we spoke with says commissioners have not seen the new policy but it does not have to be approved by them. The city's legal department chose to redact portions of the emails we requested.  The redactions were made pursuant to O.C.G.A. §50-18-72(a)(20)(A).

Employee Separation (updated to 5.2.5 General Employee Separation)

When an employee separates from employment with Augusta, Information Technology receives an official separation notice from Human Resources. Information Technology will terminate the employee’s email and network access on the effective date set by Human Resources.

If circumstances require immediate suspension of the employee’s access, the Department Director, Human Resources Director, or Administrator’s Office may make this request to the Information Technology Director or designee.

Upon an employee’s separation or reassignment to another Augusta department, the Department Director will assess the need to retain the employee’s previous emails. If retention is required, the Department Director must send a written request to the Information Technology Director or designee. (The request must be made prior to Information Technology receiving written notice of termination from Human Resources.) Information Technology will provide the requesting department with access to the employee’s email, as long as the files are still available. All files will then be deleted from the system. If a request is not made, all files will be removed upon Information Technology receiving notice of termination from Human Resources.

- New City of Augusta Employee Separation Policy

FOX54 asked a city representative if they would go on camera with us to explain the policy. They declined, saying they wanted to use the "information provided via email as Augusta's explanation."

Mayor Garnett Johnson issued the following statement on the issue: 

"The Mayor was unaware that former elected officials were using city issued email addresses after their term ended. However, we can confirm that those emails are no longer active, with the exception of the former Mayor. His email is not active for use, but incoming emails are set to forward to Mayor Johnson."

- Brennan Meagher, Communications and Community Liasion, Mayor Garnett Johnson


Editor's Note: This story was amended to provide the very specific reasons for the redactions in the above emails, which was made available at the time of the delivery of this open records records.  Redactions were made pursuant to O.C.G.A. §50-18-72(a)(20)(A).

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