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Johnson County ethics committee takes no action in conflict of interest allegations

By Rebecca Herman

An ethics committee meeting was held on Tuesday, December 13 at 6:00 pm prior to the county commissioners meeting in order to address allegations of a county employee using county property, a computer, to write personal emails. The ethics committee explained that there are only two issues on which they can vote: matters that deal with disclosure of gifts and conflict of interest. If there is an issue that appears to be a criminal act, then the ethics committee must send the case to the district attorney.
This case was considered under the conflict of interest category.
Erick Herrin, a lawyer representing Lisa Crowder, the Trustee whose office was being investigated, addressed the committee. Herrin gave copies of the emails in question to committee members and showed that the emails were written to Johnson County attorney Perry Stout and the subject matter in the emails dealt with concerns over the legality of some of the commission committees. Herrin explained that these emails did not break any laws and that this could be viewed as a violation of the first amendment. Herrin also stated, “Someone didn’t like the questions being asked and brought the emails up at meetings in order to intimate this employee.”
Herrin also said that this kind of situation could potentially attract liability to the county. “Do not allow yourselves to be manipulated,” said Herrin.
County Mayor Larry Potter said that he wanted to, “make it perfectly clear that there has been no findings, of any kind, in her office.” The committee voted, based on no findings and no indication of improprieties, to take no action.