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SEC: no ethics issue in Jones' voting

Posted: January 7, 2011 4:57 p.m.
Updated: January 10, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Last week, Kershaw County Councilman Bobby Gary made a request through Clerk of Council Merri Seigler to inquire with the S.C. State Ethics Commission (SEC) whether Councilman Jimmy Jones would violate ethics laws by voting on any issues relating to the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office’s (KCSO) budget.

Jones’ son, Jamey, is employed with the sheriff’s office.

“I wasn’t really asking the question for myself, I was asking on behalf of constituents,” Gary said Friday. “I’ve had some concerns about whether Jones is allowed to vote on the sheriff’s budget since his son works in the department.”

According to Cathy Hazelwood with the SEC, Jones isn’t in violation of ethics laws because his son does not live with him -- meaning he isn’t a member of Jones’ immediate family.

Jones said he is angry and disappointed Gary went “behind closed doors” to get the information.

Correspondence -- provided by Jones -- between Seigler and Hazelwood dated Jan. 5 shows that Seigler asked on Gary’s behalf whether Jones’ involvement in any vote relating to the KCSO would be in violation of state ethics.

Jones said he believes Seigler was “out of bounds,” and used “poor judgment” in following through on Gary’s request.

“They (Gary and Seigler) took it upon themselves to go after that information in private,” Jones said Friday. “They could’ve had their questions answered with one phone call to me… I expect to be a political target, but I don’t expect my family to be brought into it.

“It is not in Ms. Seigler’s job description to do this,” Jones said.

When asked why he didn’t contact Jones directly, Gary said he believes it was an “ethics commission question.”

Seigler said she was just following the orders of a councilman.

Jones said it’s not a dead issue, and that he plans to speak with incoming interim county administrator Frank Broom regarding the matter.­­­y Jones --d sion questions. an "

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