Congress Launches Second Investigation Into Fani Willis's Alleged Misuse Of Federal Funds

Fani Willis (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
May 15, 2024

Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis is now the subject of a second congressional investigation, according to a letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Sens. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) and Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) sent a letter to Willis on Wednesday demanding information related to whistleblower allegations that the embattled district attorney squandered federal grant funds to pay for computers and "swag." The move comes amid an ongoing investigation into the same allegations House Judiciary Committee chairman Jim Jordan (R., Ohio) launched in February.

Both the Senate and House investigations center on allegations made by former Willis staffer Amanda Timpson, who told the Free Beacon in January that she was fired shortly after warning Willis in November 2021 that her office was attempting to misappropriate a $488,000 federal grant meant for the creation of a youth gang prevention center. Though Willis’s office received the funds, the center never opened, and the county-owned building meant to house it remains closed to the public, its gates padlocked.

"The apparent and significant discrepancy between the purpose of the federal award of taxpayer money and the actual use of that money raises alarms that it hasn’t been used as Congress intended," Grassley and Johnson wrote in their letter to Willis.

The Free Beacon uncovered several instances of Willis dipping into federal grants to purchase computers and pay for travel. In 2020, the Justice Department granted the Atlanta Police Department $2 million to help clear its rape kit backlog. County records show Willis’s office pulled nearly $13,000 from that grant to purchase computers, and spent an additional $27,000 on airfare, hotels, and car rentals.

The Republican senators want Willis to answer for that spending.

"Congress has the right to know where federal tax dollars are sent and how they’re spent," Grassley told the Free Beacon. "These federal funds were intended to help vulnerable youth and support important law enforcement initiatives, but the Fulton County DA’s office appears to have used them to fulfill their own whims. Any official who squanders taxpayer funds should be held accountable."

The Senate investigation comes at a perilous time for Willis. Her election interference case against former president Donald Trump has been on the ropes ever since news broke in January that she had an affair with special prosecutor Nathan Wade as he used his earnings from the case to take Willis on extravagant vacations. Willis narrowly escaped disqualification in March from Fulton County Superior Court judge Scott McAfee, who said Wade needed to resign from the case due to an "appearance of impropriety." The Georgia Court of Appeals on May 8, however, granted Trump’s request to review the decision, leaving open the possibility that Willis could be removed from the case.

Willis characterized Timpson in March as a "holdover employee who has filed repeated, meritless lawsuits advancing similar assertions since her termination for cause" and said the congressional interest in her allegations is part of a partisan effort to interfere with her case against Trump.

The Senate investigation comes one month after the Justice Department admitted there were "inconsistencies" in Willis’s use of the youth gang prevention grant at the center of Timpson’s whistleblower allegations.

A Justice Department spokeswoman told the Free Beacon in April that it "noticed some inconsistencies in what Fulton County has reported to [the Federal Subaward Reporting System]," but didn’t provide any further details on the nature of the reporting errors. The Justice Department disclosed the inconsistencies after making several contradictory statements to the Free Beacon in regard to Willis’s use of the $488,000 federal grant.

Grassley and Johnson may be hard pressed to get any information out of Willis, who provided a "deficient" response to Jordan’s March subpoena for documents pertaining to Timpson’s whistleblower allegations.

Johnson said in a statement he and Grassley "expect nothing less than full transparency from District Attorney Willis."