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Lobbyist involved in incident leading to Chief of Staff’s arrest


Following the arrest of the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office Chief of Staff, Maj. Braxton Cotton, and his being placed on administrative leave, new information has come to light that Cotton and a lobbyist for the office were involved in a car collision which led to his arrest. 

According to police, lobbyist Deanna Harris was named in the police report concerning the April arrest of Maj. Braxton Cotton. Harris is the former chair of the Cobb Young Republicans and onetime candidate for state House.

Cobb County Police accused Cotton of lying to officers about being the victim of a hit-and-run. After an investigation, Police allege that Cotton was involved in a collision with a woman he worked with, and that she was driving a Jeep Wrangler without insurance at the time. Harris is listed in the police report as the woman involved in the incident.

Cotton reported his white Chevrolet Corvette had been damaged in a hit-and-run at Macland and Lost Mountain roads around 8:45 p.m. on March 4. Police investigated using license plate reading technology. It showed Cotton’s car was undamaged hours after he said it was hit. He later admitted the crash occurred early in the morning on March 5. 

According to police, video footage and cell phone data confirmed Cotton’s car had been hit in the early morning of March 5 and that it was not a hit-and-run. The warrant says Cotton knew the woman driving the Jeep Wrangler who hit him — they work “together on behalf of the same employer” — and he was in contact with her both before and after the crash. The collision occurred between midnight and 2 a.m. and was not a hit-and-run, the warrant says.

In the police report officers said they visited the location of the Jeep, which matched Harris’ home address. Officers found her Jeep with white paint on its bumper, consistent with it being in a crash with Cotton’s Corvette. Police noted that the Jeep received insurance coverage the day after the collision, according to the warrant.

Police allege that Cotton filed a fraudulent insurance claim with USAA. Cotton was charged on April 28 with insurance fraud and making false statements. He was briefly booked into the Cobb County jail before being released on his own recognizance.

Cotton is on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation. A statement from the Sheriff’ office said, “The investigation is unrelated to his duties at the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Owens will await the culmination of a fair trial before further commenting on the case.”

As Harris is a vendor and not an employee, the sheriff’s office spokesperson said, “She is not under investigation with the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office.”


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