Cecil County Ethics Code: Broomell Asks Do-Over, Again; Hodge Demands She Put up or Shut up
What part of you lost the voteâand the state Ethics Board also disagrees with youâdoes Cecil County Commissioner Diana Broomell (R-4) not understand?
Like a child who refuses to accept a parentâs declaration of no cookies before dinner, it was dĂ©jĂ vu all over again Tuesday, as Broomell once again refused to accept defeat on her demands to re-write the newly adopted county ethics code. Yet again, she insisted that the county Commissioners re-visit the ethics code that has not even officially taken effect.
But Commissioner Robert Hodge (R-5) demanded that she stop her âinsinuationsâ of unethical conduct against county employees and put up or shut up on vague accusations of wrongdoing.
Commissioners Board President James Mullin (R-1), who originally voted for adoption of the new ethics code, wussed out in the face of repeated Broomell challenges— after he originally sided with a majority against Broomell on the earlier adoption of the new code. For the second time after adoption of the new ethics code, Mullin sought âmore timeâ to review objections raised by Broomell. As a result, no decision was made Tuesday and commissioners will again review the Broomell demands.
At issue is Broomellâs insistence that county department heads should be mandated to file the same copiously detailed financial disclosure forms that elected commissioners must file under a new state mandate, which led to the recent adoption of a new county ethics code. However, Broomellâs demands for department heads are not required by the tough new state ethics code, and in fact, some of her demands were shot down by the state ethics board as unenforceable and/or imposing a nightmare of time-consuming and costly requirements on county government.
Broomell also wants to require âindependent contractors,â including attorneys, doing business with the county to file detailed financial disclosures similar to those required of elected officials, which require revelation of all personal property, business, investment, mortgage and partnership interests, and similar disclosures for their spouses.
In a 9/14/11 email to county officials, Jennifer Allgair, a state ethics official, said that such a demand for âindependent contractorsâ to file such disclosures would pose âan administrative nightmare for the local ethics commission to attempt to regulate all independent contractors of the county.â The state official insisted the county should âremove independent contractors from the financial disclosure requirements.â
Despite state officialsâ findings to the contrary, Broomell demanded yet again on Tuesday that her views be adopted by the county Commissioners.
Broomell also reiterated her assertions that âsome constituentsâ believe that county department heads may have undisclosed conflicts of interest and âhave profitedâ from their decisions, so they should be mandated to file the same detailed disclosure statements required of elected officials. (However, the state law does not require county department heads to file the same disclosures as elected officials.)
Challenging Broomellâs assertions, Commissioner Tari Moore (R-2), observed: âDepartment heads donât make budget decisions; we make budgetary decisions.â Of the new county ethics code, Moore said, âWe voted on it, it passed, and we have not had a chance to implement it.â
At one point, Broomell declared that her demands should be implemented because âWe canât micromanage every detail.â There were some guffaws in the audience, reflecting public dismay that Broomell has increasingly interjected herself in the minutiae of county government and decision-making by professional staff with technical credentials she lacks.
An angry Broomell chastised the audience, saying âKeep it down out there.â
Commissioner Hodge challenged Broomell on her frequent veiled allegations that some department heads may have undisclosed conflicts of interest. He said that her âinsinuationsâ were improper and if she had evidence of wrongdoing, she should report it to the Ethics Commission or other authorities.
âDonât put words in my mouth,â Broomell retorted. She claimed she did not believe county employees had conflicts of interest but asserted that unnamed constituents thought that way.
Hodge shot back: âInstead of insinuatingâ that someone is guilty of âimpropriety,â and trying to âmake people look badâ by putting up âthis cloud of muddy water,â Broomell or her âconstituentsâ should come forward with specific allegations or stop the innuendo.