By Max Hrenda
Although the county’s Ethics Committee failed to reach a quorum at its first meeting in more than a year, the two items that brought it together were still deemed to be out of the scope of its authority.
On Thursday night, despite having only half of its members in attendance, the Carter County Ethics Committee established that it could not rule on ethical issues surrounding the county mayor’s and sheriff’s offices.
Depsite failing to reach a quorum, County Attorney Keith Bowers said the committee would not have to revisit the two items at a later date.
“It doesn’t fall within the Ethics Committee’s jurisdiction,” Keith Bowers said. “There’s no reason to refer it back to the committee at this point, based on our research.”
In a letter written to Committee Chairman Charles Von Cannon, Bowers wrote that Tennessee state law permitted the Ethics Committee to rule on matters that deal with “the acceptance and/or disclosure of a gift, or a conflict of interest.”
Because the two issues before the committee – one of which dealt with an inquiry about turnover within the sheriff’s department, and the other with conditions surrounding the appointment of County Historian Scott Bowers by County Mayor Leon Humphrey – fell under neither category, Keith Bowers and committee members agreed the committee had no authority to preside over them.