First recall complaint thrown out over confidentiality violation

Sep 25, 2017

Administrative Law Judge Andrew Lebo's ruling on the first ethics complaint filed over Homer's recall election.
Credit Courtesy of the City of Homer

An ethics complaint filed in early July against Homer City Council Members Donna Aderhold, Catriona Reynolds and David Lewis was thrown out last week.

The complaint followed a failed recall attempt this summer. Recall petitioners argued that Aderhold, Reynolds and Lewis committed misconduct in office after crafting and sponsoring two resolutions regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline and inclusivity for minority populations and immigrants.

The complaint, filed by pro-recall political action committee Heartbeat of Homer, was officially filed on July 5, but Heartbeat emailed documents, dated July 3, to KBBI detailing the complaint prior to the official filing date.

Heartbeat argued the council members should have recused themselves when the council certified the recall election in June. However, city code requires all ethics complaints remain confidential.

According to the official decision, the hearing officer in the case, Administrative Law Judge Andrew Lebo, threw out the complaint because Heartbeat violated the confidentiality requirement.

KBBI obtained the decision via a public records request on Sept.  22. A previous records request filed this summer was denied, but the council members waved their right to privacy, making the decision public. 

An identical complaint, filed by recall petitioner Larry Zuccaro, was also made public last week after the council members waved their right to a private hearing. That complaint was filed on July 31 and is also being overseen by an administrative law judge. The case is set to wrap up by Oct. 29.

According to city code, the city council is required to certify all election results, tallied by a separate canvas board. It’s common practice for council members running for re-election to certify election results whether they retain their seats or not. The council would have also lacked a quorum if the three council members recused themselves.