The race for Muscogee County District Attorney has erupted in controversy over the last week.
Front and center is a social media campaign commercial that has landed challenger Mark Jones and two supporters in jail on felony property destruction charges.
The controversy and Jones’ arrest has landed on the pages of a New York City tabloid — the New York Post.
Currently, Mark Jones sits in the Muscogee County Jail without a bond awaiting Friday morning’s Recorder’s Court hearing. His attorney, Chris Breault, says he has been working to get Jones out of jail.
District Attorney Julia Slater has insisted that she was not involved in the case that led to the arrest of Jones, 23-year-old Christopher Mandel Black and 24-year-old Erik Deangelo Whittington.
“Absolutely nothing to do with them,” Slater said. “The Columbus Police Department did not consult me.”
Police have told News 3 that Slater was not involved in the investigation into damage at the Civic Center parking lot. That damage from burning rubber in the lot and a campaign video are at the center of the charges against three.
But Slater’s office did play a role in the reduction of bonds for Black and Whittington, she told News 3 when asked about it.
The bonds for the two started at $300,000 because that was the amount of property damage listed on the arrest warrants. Recorder’s Court Judge Jennifer Cooley set the bonds at $200,000 during a Memorial Day weekend hearing.
Shortly after that, the bonds were lowered to $30,000 — a number even Slater called more reasonable. But Slater says that Chief Assistant District Attorney Alonza Whitaker was consulted by an attorney for one of the defendants on that bond reduction.
“He was involved in reducing those bonds down to something I think was much more reasonable. But he did know at the time — like I said, nobody did anything wrong — it didn’t come up that they happened to be hired by Mark Jones,” Slater said. “He didn’t know there was an ethical violation.”
Jones took to Facebook live just before turning himself in on Wednesday. He called the charges baseless. And said they do not disqualify him from seeking the office.
Breault tells News 3 there will be a rally for Jones tomorrow at his office next to the Government Center.