Digging Deeper: A look into the internal investigation between Columbia County and former EMA Director Pam Tucker

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF)- Columbia County commissioners are speaking out and releasing the results of an internal investigation regarding County Administrator Scott Johnson and former Emergency Operations Manager Pam Tucker.

The internal investigation included months of interviews.

The result is that there’s no evidence of a hostile work environment between Johnson and Tucker.

In an exclusive interview from April 2017, Tucker said the hostile work environment was the reason she resigned in January.

“He was never going to show what he was doing because he was never going to admit that actually happened. It was done behind closed doors,” said Tucker.

Tucker claimed that there was never anything negative put in writing because it could be requested through an “Open Records Request.”

Before Tucker quit, Deputy EMA Director Rusty Welsh resigned.

His reason? A hostile work environment under Tucker.

The investigation results show Welsh made several claims that he had to be on call 24/7, was unable to attend family Christmas and said Tucker was a micro-manager.

Other employees claimed they had to walk on eggshells around Tucker.

One employee claimed that Tucker wouldn’t allow the employee to go to funerals or take bereavement even though Tucker used volunteers during the big ice storm to take her to see the birth of her grandchild.

Chairman Ron Cross says that Tucker was an excellent employee but he was upset with what he read in the investigation and called Tucker’s personality narcissistic.

“Everything was about Pam. I see a lot of heads nodding there. I think over the years, people have gone out of the way to cater to her because of her sensitivity to constructive criticism,” said Cross.

Commissioner Bill Morris says Tucker walked out on the community she reportedly claims to love.

“It disappoints me tremendously. She had the full support of the commission, Johnson explained that to her and I met with her personally,” said Morris.

While commissioners admit that this investigation has put a cloud over the county, Johnson says it’s damaged his reputation.

“For me personally, it’s been very trying. To be tried and convicted on social media, in professional media, people calling for your job when they don’t even know what you do or even know your name. It’s very tough. I’ve had physical threats and death threats,” said Johnson.

In the investigation reports, Johnson turned over audio tapes which showed that Johnson asked Tucker to stay numerous times and wanted to work on their relationship.

Text messages were also turned over to investigations in which Tucker and Johnson talked about getting her severance package but Johnson also asked Tucker to work on making things better in the workplace.

NewsChannel 6 reached out to Tucker for a comment but she declined to go on camera.

Tucker did take to Facebook to make a statement after watching part of the press conference on Wednesday.

She stated:

After viewing a portion of the press conference and several updates, I could not be prouder of the decision that I’ve made to run for Commission Chair. Today’s display is a perfect example of why I decided to do what I have done. I feel like the only reason these folks made disparaging comments about me personally – as well as my work ethic, my leadership abilities, and my dedication is for one simple reason – because I have decided to run for Commission Chair. The most comforting thing about the report is that the Board of Commissioners and the Investigators acknowledge that I have done nothing wrong. I’ve been a dedicated public servant my entire adult life and I look forward to moving on with my campaign and putting an end to this situation. I truly look forward to fostering a team of adult leadership on the Board of Commissioners when you – the people of Columbia County – elect our #TeamTucker to the Commission Chair.

  • Pam Tucker

There was the question raised as to why Johnson wasn’t put on administrative leave during the internal  investigation.

Chairman Cross said that was because he knew there was no truth to the allegations of a hostile work environment.

NewsChannel 6 will continue to dig through the investigation findings and will keep you updated with new developments in this case.

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