I have followed the recent ethics violation complaint filed against Lynn Jackson by John Weisheit of Living Rivers with interest – not because of who is involved, but what is at stake. We have a lot of conflicts of interest in Moab. Some of them matter; some of them don’t. The point is that our leaders, by law, must make consistent disclosures of actual or potential conflicts.
I have read Grand County Attorney Andrew Fitzgerald’s full three-page press release. Mr. Weisheit’s description of it is right on – it is full of flaccid findings. At least one legal conclusion regarding the applicability of Ordinance 462 to this particular case is clear error. In so finding, Mr. Fitzgerald ignored the express language of the ordinance – and a relevant criterion that applies to the facts as presented in the complaint. Three other legal findings appear off-mark as well. (For example, a paid consultant is not an agent of the company which pays him.) But we can’t know from the press release alone. We need a copy of the full legal memo, which Mr. Fitzgerald won’t currently release.
This is not about Mr. Jackson, who is not running again. It is important in a bigger context for the future of good government in Grand County. Since we do not have a sitting ethics board, we must rely on our county attorney to enact and enforce a strong ethics policy that gives our elected and appointed officers clear direction on how to approach conflicts and disclosures.
While Mr. Fitzgerald ends his press release urging our officers take the route of best practice and make annual disclosures, this is not enough. Mr. Fitzgerald needs to go a step further by affirming the importance of our local law on ethics and require disclosures.
I urge folks to write Mr. Fitzgerald a letter asking for a stronger stance on ethics policies that help guide our leaders to serve the public openly and effectively. Please also submit a GRAMA request asking Mr. Fitzgerald to release the full legal memo in the interest of good, transparent government. You can find the GRAMA request form online at www.grandcountyutah, or contact the county clerk for more information.