Fulton Co. DA defends spending public money on private security

Fulton Co. DA defends spending public money on private security

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Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard reads a statement on Friday, June 7, 2013. Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard reads a statement on Friday, June 7, 2013.
ATLANTA -

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard says his life has been threatened. He made the revelation on Friday to explain why he decided to use public funds to pay for security upgrades to his property.

In a press conference on Friday, Howard displayed threatening letters and talked about warnings from the FBI that detailed assassination attempts.

Howard said he revealed details of the threats to answer questions about his decision to use a forfeiture account collected from criminal assets to pay for an iron door at his home. He said that he ordered the purchase for security rather than ask for a law enforcement officer to be at his property around the clock for protection.

"These security measures were not only provided to me, but to two other employees within my office whose assignments often bring them in to real danger," Howard said. "As you know, a district attorney and his wife were brutally murdered in Texas, and the murder took place in the district attorney's home."

William Perry of the government watchdog group Common Cause Georgia said that forfeiture cash, while not taxpayer dollars, are public funds. He questioned Howard's use of the account, not as much for the security purpose, but instead the fact that Howard also ordered that thousands be spent in donations to non-profits.

"I think donations to charities and things like that certainly do benefit the charity with funds, but it also benefits the individual in terms of publicity and things like that," Perry said. That sounds more like it should be a campaign expense, not a public dollars expense. "

Howard, who took no questions from reporters, said that his goal with the donations is provide help for people through organizations that do good things for the community, instead of just locking people up.

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