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Thursday, 31 October 2013 13:11

Malta Ethics Panel Recommends Censure of Town Clerk

By | News

MALTA – “The town clerk solicited, on multiple occasions, employees to make a political contribution, through time, effort, endorsement or signature.”

So stated a report issued by the Town of Malta Ethics Committee in recommending by a unanimous 7-0 vote that Town Clerk Flo Sickels be censured for both conducting herself, or ordering employees she supervised to conduct political activities on town property during work hours. 

Sickels has been Malta’s town clerk for 22 years and is running for her twelfth 2-year term in the next election on November 5. She has been endorsed by the Republican and Conservative parties. 

The Malta town board has up to 45 days to act upon the ethics committee’s findings. They can accept, modify or reject the findings. A special ethics committee meeting has been scheduled for November 4 at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will be held at the David R. Meager Community Center, Room 106, One Bayberry Drive, Malta.  The next town board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, November 6, which is the day after Election Day.

The ethics committee began investigating Sickels’ actions after receiving a written complaint from Tax Collector Linda Bablin regarding Sickels’ directing employees in the town clerk office to engage in activities on behalf of the Malta Republican Committee. 

The ethics committee reported that Deputy Clerk Jennifer Lanahan was directed by Sickels to prepare the Republican committee minutes “on at least one occasion, on town property, during normal business hours, while they were being paid for their time” by the Town of Malta. This was found by the ethics committee to be a violation of section 11-12A of the Town of Malta Code of Ethics, regarding use of municipal resources:

The report also states that Lanahan and former Deputy Town Clerk Linda Deprey were asked to contribute to Sickel’s political campaign in the form of signing petitions, getting signatures on petitions, writing letters of support and campaigning door-to-door.

The ethics committee found these actions to be in violation of sections 11-15a of the ethics code, regarding political solicitation.

The ethics committee also reported that more than one town employee described specific examples of behavior on Sickels’ behalf that they believed were retaliatory against people who objected or did not comply with her requests.

The report also included a third complaint, alleging that Sickels handled matters related to her role on behalf of the Eastline Romp and Play dog park, a not-for-profit organization during her workday as town clerk.

In this case the ethics committee was “not able to find evidence significant enough to either prove or disprove that allegation.”

 

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