Ethics board publicy reprimands Thompson

David Thompson

* Earlier reports in this story contained typographical inconsistencies from the Cumberland Valley Regional Board of Ethics’ official reprimand.*

The Cumberland Valley Regional Board of Ethics has issued a “public reprimand” against former Barbourville Mayor David Thompson.

On June 11, the Cumberland Valley Regional Board of Ethics heard testimony in relation to the accusations that Barbourville Mayor David Thompson was guilty of nepotism and coercing community service (K-TAP) workers to use his wife’s daycare center.

The board found evidence that Thompson was guilty of the nepotism ethics violation but stated there was not enough clear and convincing evidence to support the ethics violation charge of coercion of K-TAP workers to use his wife, Wendy Thompson’s, daycare center.

The public reprimand states: “The Cumberland Valley Regional Board of Ethics has found by clear and convincing evidence that you violated Barbourville Ordinance 36.15(C), Conflicts of Interest in General, as well as, Barbourville Ordinance 36.16(A), Conflicts of Interest in Contracts, and Barbourville Ordinance 36.50 (A), Nepotism.

“In your former position of Mayor of the City of Barbourville, it is imperative that you not only be honest and honorable but that your actions are such as not to raise any suspicion as to your integrity.

The letter will be advertised in The Mountain Advocate’s legal section on Thursday, July 17, 2014. The letter is signed by Lutricia Woods, Chairman of the Cumberland Valley Regional Board of Ethics.

The ethics board’s decision:

1. Regarding APA Finding  #4, the Regional Board of Ethics is not satisfied by clear and convincing evidence, that former Mayor Thompson violated Barbourville Ordinance 36.01.

2. Regarding APA Finding #6, the Regional Board of Ethics is satisfied by clear and convincing evidence that former Mayor Thompson did, in fact actively participate in the decision to offer Wendy Thompson, his wife, a contract to serve as assistant manager to run the concession at both the water park and the ball park for the summer of 2007 through 2012. Accordingly, the Board finds that the Respondent did violate Barbourville Ordinance 36.15 (C), Conflicts of Interest in General, as well as Barbourville Ordinance 36.16 (A), Conflicts of Interest in Contracts, and Barbourville Ordinance 36.50 (A), Nepotism.

The ethics board hearing stemmed from a critical state audit in which Kentucky State Auditor Adam Edelen reported that the city of Barbourville and some of its boards bought products without obtaining bids; paid far more for land than the assessed value; and hired contractors for work that city employees could have done far cheaper.

The audit also alleged that Thompson influenced the hiring of his wife at the city-run water park, and that the water park did not file state sales tax returns on concessions while she was in charge.

The ethics board’s only interests were the questions of nepotism and the alleged coercion of community service K-TAP workers to use his wife, Wendy Thompson’s daycare. At the June ethics hearing, the board heard testimony from several who worked with the former mayor, placing K-TAP workers at various work locations throughout the city and also those who were familiar with the hiring of Thompson’s wife to manage the city’s water park.

State Auditor Adam Edelen’s office started the special examination of the city and its boards during summer 2013 at the request of Barbourville City Council members.

Council members had expressed concern about activities that could indicate mismanagement, according to the audit.

The audit covered July 2007 through August 2013 and identified a number of problems, including lax controls and oversight that led to financial mismanagement and abuses.

In May, by unanimous council vote, Thompson was removed from office.

Thompson, with his attorney Billy Taylor, has filed an appeal and hopes to be reinstated. The recent ethics board hearing documents will likely be presented as evidence against Thompson.

Despite all that has happened during the past year, Thompson said in a previous interview that his name will be on the November ballot as he is seeking the office of mayor once again.

“There was never any question,” Thompson said of his plans to campaign. “I knew the minute they removed me that I would run again.”