ATLANTA-- The racial discrimination case appears to be rooted in room 323 of the Legislative Office Building across from the Capitol.
It's the office of state senators William Ligon (R-Brunswick) and Barry Loudermilk (R-Cassville) -- two men implicated by Democrats questioning the settlement of the case.
"$80,000 of the people's money has been spent and we know nothing about it," said Sen. Donzella James (D-Atlanta).
Democrats say the payment was authorized this summer during a secret committee meeting chaired by Sen. Tommie Williams (R-Lyons) to settle a claim against the two senators. But details have been kept under wraps.
Democratic Party chairman Mike Berlon is calling for state and federal investigations -- and the resignations of the two senators.
"I understand that sometimes these decisions have to be made to settle claims," Berlon, an attorney, said at a news conference. "But it's the manner in which this was done. It was completely in secret and it looks like there were going to be no ramifications whatsoever for the Republican senators."
Senators Ligon and Loudermilk confirm that the employee worked in their office. "I have never discriminated against her or anyone else, and this issue has never been raised to me," Loudermilk said in a statement from his office.
"We have not mistreated anyone," Ligon said in a phone interview from Brunswick. "I've never harassed any of my employees." Ligon also said he has no knowledge of a complaint against him, nor knowledge of a payment on his behalf. But Ligon declined to call for public release of the records.
A big reason there's so much secrecy surrounding this transaction: The Georgia legislature exempted itself from the state's open records law -- an exemption that was enacted when the Democrats held power at the Capitol.