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UPDATED Tacoma: City ethics board to review complaints against Strickland, Campbell

Post by Lewis Kamb / The News Tribune on March 9, 2011 at 5:34 pm with 8 Comments »
March 10, 2011 4:00 pm

Tacoma’s citizen Board of Ethics will convene later this month to review separate complaints filed against Mayor Marilyn Strickland and Councilman Marty Campbell, the city clerk’s office confirmed today.

The complaints — both filed by local gadfly John Hathaway — essentially contend that Strickland and Campbell separately violated city rules for varying reasons.

Campbell

The complaint against Campbell — largely based on an email discussion between the councilman and Ahndrea Blue, the operator of a controversial East Side food bank — requests an ethics investigation of Campbell’s actions in setting up a recent public meeting about the food bank.

“Was it ethical for Campbell to tell Ms. Blue’s partners one thing or even contact them in the first place and then willfully blindside, lie to, obfascate(sic) and mislead Ms. Blue when she openly asked for the same information and are his action(sic) a violation of City Ethics Code ,” Hathaway’s emailed complaint asks.

(I’ve yet to reach Campbell via email or phone today, but will update this post with his comments after I talk to him. He has previously told me that he’s done nothing wrong.)

UPDATE 5:55 p.m. Campbell just called and reiterated he’s done nothing wrong.

“Frankly, I think that this really is just an attempt to create more controversy in an issue that doesn’t need anymore controversy,” he said.

Campbell added that the email thread Hathaway used to make his complaint is a selected version of his conversation with Blue that excludes various exchanges (He sent what he says is the complete version here).

“I think most people who even read the edited version would agree that I wasn’t trying to obfuscate or any other word he says I was doing,” Campbell said. “Really, this was about a community conversation and about getting everyone to come down and share their views. I was just inviting her to join it.”
(END UPDATE)

Meanwhile, the complaint against Strickland essentially contends she broke a city ethics rule that bars city officials from giving or receiving gifts of value. The mayor has said she used a Lakewood businessman’s frequent flier miles to cover her airfare costs for a recent trip to Asia to promote Tacoma business opportunities, as we reported here.

Strickland

Strickland, who returned from the trip on Sunday, told The News Tribune this week her use of international businessman Ron Chow‘s flier miles was simply an effort to avoid having the city pay for her travel expenses. She added she does not view the matter as a breach of city ethics rules.

“I don’t think it is,” she told me Monday. “There’s no financial benefit for me. I’m going over there trying to build relationships and create some opportunities for business in Tacoma.”

The ethics board is set to convene a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. on March 24 to consider each complaint and determine if further investigation is warranted.

Hathaway’s complaint against the mayor involves a terse email sent to City Clerk Doris Sorum today that referenced The News Tribune’s story about the mayor’s trip, first published online on Tuesday.

Leave a comment Comments → 8
  1. PumainTacoma says:

    Clearly the Mayor has no clue what a financial gift is? anything of value! I sure hope the City’s Ethics Board actually knows Ethics policies in corporate world as people get fired fined and do jail time for “accepting gifts of value” as public officials and federal officials.

  2. Alison7613 says:

    Marty, it’s not up to you to decide if you have done something wrong. It is up to the ethics board.

  3. The ethics complaint on Campbell was amended this evening to include a possible violation of City Council Rule #13 which states, “Council Members shall keep confidential all written materials and verbal information provided to them during Executive Sessions to ensure that the City’s position is not compromised, and to comply with RCW 42.23.070(4) and Tacoma Municipal Code 1.46.030(G), relating to disclosure of confidential information.”

  4. You guys did it now. Out comes the crazies. God help us all.

  5. nvanputten says:

    Wow. After reading the full transcript that Councilmember Campbell provided, I’m blow away by the respectfulness and professionalism with which he treated Ms. Blue. The clear absence of any ethical violation is matched only by the lengths to which Mr. Campbell has apparently gone to provide as open and honest a conversation as possible, culminating in providing this transcript unabridged to the TNT.

    Thank you Marty.

  6. If it is unethical to be vague and use acronyms other people don’t immediately understand, I think our entire system of government should be brought up before the ethics board.

  7. Alison7613 says:

    Marty did not provide the transcript, John Hathaway did. Do you really think Marty would bring forward infomation that might question his ethics?

  8. Alison7613 says:

    Professional treatment of Ms. Blue by Campbell? Clearly you have none of the facts. None at all. Campbell has been the most unprofessional politician I have ever paid attention to in this city.

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