Ethics Code Approved by County Commission; Rules Will Govern All County Appointed Officials and Employees

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Byline: BETH REESE CRAVEY

Seven months after a voter mandate, the Clay County Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved a broad ethics code for all elected and appointed county officials and employees.

But one commissioner cautioned that the code will not necessarily prevent bad apples from staining government service.

"Is this going to stop corruption in local government? No," said Commissioner George Bush. "It's going to make you and me, and the employees, aware of how we have more restraints."

In the November 2006 general election, Clay voters approved a charter amendment that required the County Commission to adopt an ethics code for all elected and appointed county officers, including constitutional officers, commissioners and county staff, school superintendent, School Board and school district employees.

Representatives of those agencies spent months considering the resulting ordinance. Commissioner Rob Bradley, chairman of the rules, policies and procedures committee, crafted the ordinance. One of its tenets bans elected and appointed officials from accepting gifts - even lunch or a golf game - from lobbyists.

"Public servants may not accept gifts that they know or should know are given with the intent to influence," said Rebecca Clayton, assistant county attorney.

Also, the ordinance prohibits staff, officials and senior management who have left government from lobbying before the commission or school board under a different capacity within two years of their departure. …