Records show that Gwinnett DA candidate Patsy Austin-Gatson and her husband have a history of financial mismanagement. According to details verified by Georgia News Daily by the Gwinnett Ethics Group, in 2019 Austin-Gatson had a tax lien filed against her for unpaid taxes on property in Crawford County, had a lien file against her in 2011 for failure to pay homeowners association dues, had action taken against her in 2011 by the Georgia Department of Revenue for failure to pay income tax, had a tax lien filed against her in 2004 by DeKalb County and finalized a bankruptcy petition in 2019.
Apparently the bankruptcy filing was a means of handling the debts for which lawsuits and liens had been filed. The Chapter 14 trustee’s report shows that most bills were paid, although $3,864.55 in claims were discharged without payment.
Although the term “bankruptcy” has a stigma attached to it, Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be used as a way to buy time to pay off debts. In fact, one of the suits against Austim-Gatson appears to have been suspended when the bankruptcy was filed.
The concern that voters should have is not that Austin-Gatson filed a bankruptcy petition, but that years of financial mismanagement caused her to do so. Prior to being employed by the county solicitor’s office, Austin-Gatson had been an attorney in private practice. If she was financially stressed that would indicate she was a poor attorney with little business or did not properly manage her finances. Another possibility is that she was was dealing with unforeseen circumstances but that isn’t indicated in the final bankruptcy report. The unpaid bills were relatively small loans and taxes.
Financial difficulties can hit anybody. The concern here is a multi-year pattern of failure to pay debts and taxes.