Lassetter complains to company about employee's e-mail

By SARAH FAY CAMPBELL sarah@newnan.com When Cowetan Matt Quinn decided to fire off an e-mail to all five Coweta County Commissioners taking them to task for their actions toward Starship, he used his company e-mail, as he does for everything. Commissioner Tim Lassetter e-mailed back minutes later, and after several e-mails, the men followed up with a phone conversation.
"I thought it was big of him to pick up the phone and call me," Quinn said. "I said, 'I respect the fact that you called me back, and I appreciate you calling me and this is one of those issues where we agree to disagree.'" That exchange took place on a Saturday. Quinn thought things were fine until the following Tuesday, when he received a call from the vice president of his trucking company, based in the northeast. A Coweta commissioner had contacted Quinn's company through its Web site -- accessible from a clickable link in Quinn's e-mail signature -- and complained about Quinn's e-mail. Also, Quinn said, when the president of the company contacted the commissioner, at some point during the conversation the commissioner mentioned the Georgia Department of Public Safety's Motor Carrier Compliance Division. When Quinn got off the phone with his boss, he called Lassetter. "I called him, initially, on kind of a friendly basis. I said, 'We spoke on Saturday and I'm just trying to find out which one of the commissioners was affiliated with motor carrier compliance.'" Lassetter answered that it was Randolph Collins, and "I said, 'Oh, that's who contacted my company' and [Lassetter] said, 'No, I'm the one'" who contacted them, Quinn said. Lassetter had contacted the company through its Web site before he talked to Quinn that Saturday. After their initial phone conversation, a little more than four hours after Quinn's original e-mail, Lassetter sent another message to the company asking it to disregard his original complaint. "After we had a discussion I felt fine with our discussion and, unfortunately, I guess at that time it was too late," Lassetter said. "I had already sent something that obviously I wish I had not sent until after we talked." Lassetter got a call Monday from the trucking company president. "I was kind of surprised that I got a call like that, especially after I sent the second e-mail," he said. Lassetter said he doesn't remember saying anything about a commissioner who worked in the motor carrier compliance division. The incident happened more than a month ago, however. "I'm not going to say it didn't, but I can't remember specifics," Lassetter said. "I can't tell you exactly what I said, because that was a month ago ... and I'm man enough to say that," he added. Quinn got a written reprimand for using his company e-mail to express political opinions. He realizes sending the e-mail from his work address wasn't a good idea. Quinn's e-mail signature has his company's color logo above his name, and the local terminal's address. There is also the clickable link to the corporate Web site. "I've always used my work e-mail for everything," Quinn said. "It goes to my Blackberry, and I just didn't really put any thought into it. Which was my mistake, especially to send an e-mail of that nature." But he is bothered by Lassetter's actions in contacting his company. Whatever Lassetter said to the company president, it was enough to cause him concern. "I think it's dirty politics," Quinn said. In the original e-mail, Quinn tells the commissioners he takes issue with how they conducted themselves during the Starship controversy. "What you've done here is nothing short of shameful 'backroom politics,'" he says. "Gentlemen, you are the problem with our political system. You should immediately resign your position in disgrace and allow open-minded pro-business citizens the opportunity to make Coweta County the great economic business friendly county it could be." He also asked how much taxpayer money has been spent and asks, "What are you really trying to accomplish here?" He ends by saying: "Do this county some good for a change -- resign." Lassetter said he doesn't know what he was thinking when he sent the first message to Quinn's company. "I can't tell you exactly what I was thinking ... I'm not going to speculate," Lassetter said. "I don't remember if it just hit me the wrong way and I reacted before I got a chance to talk to him." "After the fact, I wished I had not sent the original (message) because after having a discussion with him, we agreed to disagree," Lassetter said.

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