Toomey fired Dalton four days after this story was published and immediately kicked her from the agency’s headquarters in downtown Atlanta.

“After a life in the public service,” Dalton’s attorney Kimberly Worth wrote to Toomey and Kemp, “she was taken out of the DPH with a security escort in tow.”

Dalton’s reputation, Worth wrote, “is now tarnished by her sudden and unlawful termination,” making it impossible to get another job in state government. Dalton is demanding nearly $ 800,000 in lost salary and retirement benefits and to cover legal costs.

The whistleblower complaint raises questions about how the health agency is managing millions of dollars in federal pandemic aid, while challenging Toomey’s public image as a quiet-speaking bureaucrat staying away from politics.

Nancy Nydam, a Toomey spokeswoman, said the health authority was not commenting on “any potential, pending or downstream litigation”. She declined to answer specific questions about the no-bid contract awarded to Maximus Inc. of Reston, Virginia. Kemp’s spokeswoman Mallory Blount also declined to comment.

Through her lawyer, Dalton declined to speak about her complaint.

Dalton spent 23 years in the Attorney General’s office, working in both Democratic and Republican administrations before joining the Department of Health last October.

She discovered that the agency’s law firm was a “fiasco,” according to a letter from her attorney. The office failed to respond to “thousands” of filing requests, Dalton said, exposing the agency to legal fees and possible judgments for violating the Open Records Act.

The motions included one the Magazines Constitution filed in May 2020 to look for emails between Toomey and the governor’s office. The agency initially informed the newspaper that it had suspended compliance with the record law for the duration of the coronavirus emergency. Then it said it would make the records available at a cost of around $ 2,700. The newspaper paid the consultation fee, but the agency still did not hand over the records.

According to her lawyer, Dalton has revised the agency’s response process and clarified the languishing file inquiries in the first few months of its activity. At the end of January, she submitted more than 15,000 pages of emails to the magazine constitution.

During this time, Toomey “relied” on Dalton, says her lawyer, and “asked her to do things at all times”. When the coronavirus increased in early 2021, Dalton worked seven days a week.

Despite the demands of the pandemic, Toomey hired Dalton in February for an unusual job, her attorney said: investigating a private legal matter involving her friends, Abit Massey, Georgia Poultry Foundation President Emeritus, and his wife Kayanne -time Miss Georgia. Your connection to Toomey is not clear.

During the same period, the Masseys’ son – Lewis Massey, who was Georgia Secretary of State from 1996 to 1999 – campaigned with the Health Department to get one of its customers, Maximus Inc., an order for a vaccination call center.

Lewis Massey said Monday he could not comment on the contract due to potential litigation. He said any allegations concerning his parents were untrue.

He first contacted the health department on behalf of Maximus in October 2020, as records show. When Dalton received a draft contract for review in February, the contract had apparently been in the works for several weeks but, according to her lawyer, had not yet been advertised for competitive bids.

Dalton says she told other officials that public health districts across the state already had their own vaccination scheduling systems. By rushing through the deal with Maximus, her attorney feared the agency “could be viewed as” sneaking the contract through a no-bid process that costs taxpayers millions of dollars for no reason. “

According to her lawyer, Toomey yelled at Dalton in a tense conversation. “I’m not going to argue with you,” Dalton quoted Toomey. “Get it ready.”

According to Dalton’s attorney, Toomey stopped speaking to Dalton after the confrontation, and the Maximus contract was being processed by another health authority office.

On March 16, Kemp’s General Counsel, David Dove, summoned Dalton to his Capitol office, according to Dalton’s attorney. Dalton didn’t answer Dove. Even so, he urged her to quit the health department and then apply in six months for a government part-time position that offered lower pay and no benefits. In an email dated March 22, Dalton rejected Dove’s proposal.

Then, on March 26th, the Journal Constitution published a story based in part on Dalton’s emails. It reported that Kemp had repeatedly disregarded advice from Toomey and other public health experts; the governor’s office had largely dictated the public news about the coronavirus, including Toomey’s public statements; and the state withheld information showing the pandemic worsened when Kemp eased virus control measures. At the time, a Kemp spokesman disputed some of the Journal Constitution’s conclusions, saying that many other states “did no better than Georgia against COVID-19.”

Four days later, Dalton lost her job.

A letter from a human resources representative gave no reason for dismissal other than that she had “failed” a six-month probationary period. She was ordered to leave the agency’s offices immediately before she could gather her personal belongings.