By MELINDA J. OVERSTREET
Glasgow Daily Times
Most of the people required by Barren County’s code of ethics ordinance to file a financial disclosure form with the Barren County Ethics Commission have done so.
But commission Chairman James Nelson, to whom the forms are to be mailed, had not received the forms from a dozen of those people by Tuesday afternoon.
Nine of the 12 are candidates for offices who do not currently hold those seats; three are incumbent elected officials.
The ordinance states that elected county officers (not meant as solely law enforcement officers here), candidates for elected county government offices and county employees with procurement authority exceeding $500,000 per purchase must submit one of these forms annually. The statement is supposed to include information that would reveal potential conflicts of interest.
For example, the person filing the form is to include the name, address and phone number for “each business organization doing business with the Barren County Government or any County Agency, or any County Officer, in which the filer or any member of the filer’s family has an interest of $10,000 at fair market value or 5 percent or more ownership interest or has received compensation in excess of $5,000 during the preceding calendar year, with certain exceptions for publicly traded securities.”
Filers must also list properties as well as gifts, loans, gratuities, discounts, favors, etc. that meet certain criteria.
Existing county “officers” are to submit the form by Feb. 1. Appointed individuals and those filing as candidates have 21 days to submit their forms.
Three of the five members of the county’s ethics commission – enough for a quorum – gathered Tuesday afternoon for a mandatory review of who all had filed financial disclosure statements as required by the existing ethics code. Two commissioners, Steve Riley and Steve Russell, were absent.
Although generally any purchase of $500,000 or more would require approval by the Barren County Fiscal Court, several nonelected department heads had submitted the financial disclosure forms: Jim Griffin, building and electrical inspector; Charles Kerney, parks and recreation; Johnny Kinslow, road department; Denise Riddle, county treasurer; and Tony Richey, emergency management director.
Even though not submitting the form is a violation of the county’s ethics code, the ordinance provides no real teeth for the ethics commission to impose consequences for candidates who are not incumbents.
For individuals already in their respective positions, the commission could recommend the withholding of salary and benefits until the elected officials comply with the ordinance.
Nelson said he had already tried to reach most of the people for whom he didn’t have a form, but he would try to get additional numbers from the clerk’s office, where they filed as candidates, and make another round of calls.
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