CAIRO — At Tuesday night’s meeting of the Grady County Commission, the board hired Laura Wahoske Benz LLC as a consultant for Tired Creek Lake and point of contact with the Army Corps of Engineers. Previously, this work was done by Benz as an employee of the Law Office of Wm. Thomas Craig.

Craig is under fire for being paid with taxpayers money while owing millions to the IRS.

Benz said of her duties with the county, it “doesn’t change anything except that I don’t work for Tommy Craig anymore,” said Benz after the meeting. Benz had been employed by Craig since August 2003 before resigning more than a week ago.

Grady County Commission Chair LaFaye Copeland was asked if the county’s hiring of Benz meant the county was no longer working with Craig. Her response was “She (Benz) is on her own.”

Until Tuesday, Craig’s law firm was the consultant with Grady County and the liaison between the county and the Army Corps of Engineers instrumental in obtaining the 2010 permit for Tired Creek Lake. Craig is also the county attorney for Newton County.

An investigative reporter with 11Alive News in Newton, Catie Beck, reported that public records showed Craig owed IRS tax liens adding up to several million dollars despite a 2014 income of $1 million from Newton County and $74,143.44 from Grady County, in addition to other consulting income.

In Grady County alone, Craig was paid $1,074,366.07 since 2006, according to Grady County Clerk Carrie Kines.

When asked if the controversy was part of her decision to leave, Benz only said, “It was just time to move on.”

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