Friday, January 26, 2024

Sally Betts Liberal powerbroker under fire over alcohol accusations

 Sally Betts Liberal powerbroker under fire over alcohol accusations

Former Waverley mayor and Liberal powerbroker Sally Betts is the subject of an internal council investigation after being accused by a colleague of being drunk and offensive following a meeting last year.

Last week, Liberal councillor Leon Goltsman sent a scathing late night email to the party’s state director Richard Shields and other Waverley Liberals, accusing Betts of “unacceptable” behaviour after an extraordinary council meeting on October 26.
Liberal councillor Leon Goltsman.
Liberal councillor Leon Goltsman.CREDIT: WAVERLEY COUNCIL
He called for her to step down as leader of the Liberals on council.
“Your excessive alcohol consumption [and] offensive language ... were not only dangerous but also a significant lapse in judgment,” Goltsman wrote.
“Despite the evidence of your behaviour that evening, including CCTV footage and eyewitness accounts, I am dismayed that you have chosen to deny any responsibility or seek professional help.”

Goltsman said Betts told him to “f--- off” after drinking at a post-meeting dinner.
Betts told the Herald she strongly denied Goltsman’s allegations.

“The correspondence from Mr Goltsman is indicative of the misguided, irrational and disturbing behaviour that I have experienced from him over an extended period of time,” she said.

As this is an internal council issue, the matter is being reported to the general manager of Waverley Council and I am sure, in line with standard procedures, will be appropriately investigated.
“Accordingly, it is not appropriate for me at this time to provide you with any responses to the unfounded allegations of Mr Goltsman.”
The Herald does not suggest that Goltsman’s allegations are true.
Betts’ behaviour at the meeting is subject of an internal probe over an alleged breach of the council’s code of conduct, according to two sources familiar with the incident not authorised to speak on matters subject to confidential council investigations.
The October 26 extraordinary meeting was a fiery one, with two Greens councillors, including the then deputy mayor Ludovico Fabiano, removed from positions after attempting to amend a motion about the conflict in the Middle East to condemn alleged “war crimes” by Israel.
Goltsman said he’d reported the incident to the party’s former state director Chris Stone in a phone call in October last year. He told the Herald he was coming forward in the new year because he no longer had confidence in Betts’ ability to deliver as a councillor, and hoped that Shields, the party’s new state director, might take action.
Stone did not respond to the Herald’s requests for comment.
“I refuse to turn a blind eye to actions that compromise the integrity and wellbeing of our community,” Goltsman said in his email.
“Your actions have repeatedly brought shame not only upon yourself but also the council and the broader values of the Liberal Party.”
A Liberal Party spokesperson said they were “considering the matter”.
The Herald understands that while the party is aware of the matter, no formal investigation of Betts’ conduct is currently underway.
Greens councillor Ludovico Fabiano.
Greens councillor Ludovico Fabiano.CREDIT: WAVERLEY COUNCIL
Betts, who has spent 25 years on Waverley Council, including eight as mayor, is a powerful figure in eastern suburbs Liberal politics, and sits on the party’s state executive. She is an influential personality in the moderate faction, has worked as a staffer for former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, and was president of the Wentworth federal election committee for six years before getting deposed in 2023 by the seat’s former MP Peter King.
In 2022, she was appointed to the board of Multicultural NSW by then minister Natalie Ward.
She is intending to recontest her state executive position at the party’s annual general meeting next month.
A spokesperson for Waverley Council told the Herald it “does not comment on confidential allegations or formal investigations”.