Ethic committee takes no action on conflict of interest agenda items

There was no complaint filed, so no action was taken.

The new Blount County Ethics Committee stuck to the rules they are still refining in a Monday night meeting, deciding to take no action on two items Chairman Wendy Pitts Reeves had put on the agenda. Motions concerning the conflict of interest items were withdrawn after the committee decided proper procedures had not been followed.

Pitts Reeves had placed items concerning herself, Commissioner Bob Proffitt and Commissioner Mike Lewis and potential conflicts of interest on the agenda. She recused herself from the discussion on the item concerning herself and Commissioner Proffitt, turning the chair over to Vice Chair Ron French.

It was Commissioner Joe McCulley who expressed a problem with addressing the issues because procedure had not been met.

“We should have somebody file a complaint before we begin an investigation,” McCulley said.

“So only after a complaint has been filed should we address it?” asked committee member Betsy Cunningham

“That is my opinion,” said McCulley.

Cunningham agreed, adding that “of all committees, we (the Ethics Committee) should follow the rules.”

Initially there was some discussion as to whether the matter should be addressed because the issues came to light while the procedures for filing a formal complaint to the Ethics Committee were still being developed.

After discussion, however, the motion to address the issues was withdrawn and no action was taken.

Neither Pitts Reeves or Commissioner Scott Helton gave any indication they would file a complaint with the Ethics Committee. Reeves first questioned whether Lewis had a conflict of interest by serving on the Purchasing Committee because he is a GreenBank vice president and the county does business with GreenBank. Helton brought up the conflict of interest question concerning Pitts Reeves and Proffitt and their association with Highlands Health Partnership. Pitts Reeves said she had brought the question regarding Lewis to the commission and would abide by the body’s decision not to act on it. Helton said he was waiting for the State Attorney General’s opinion on Reeves and Proffitt.

Although the commission took no action on the Lewis question, Lewis asked Rep. Joe McCord to request an opinion from the State Attorney General, received confirmation that he did have a conflict and transferred his stock in GreenBank to his wife.

On the question regarding Pitts Reeves and Proffitt, the CTAS lawyer Stephen Austin found that there was an “indirect interest” in Pitts Reeves’ and Proffitt’s association with Highlands and an attorney general opinion has been requested.

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