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An Open letter to the Citizens of Emmitsburg

The Emmitsburg Ethics Commission

The Emmitsburg Ethics Commission has been and continues to be greatly concerned about the substantial amount of erroneous and misleading information submitted to the press and stated in numerous Town Council meetings in regards to a recent investigation of two complaints lodged against two Emmitsburg Town Commissioners.

The EEC report is now complete and available for review on-line at Numerous comments have been targeted at the EEC for the time it has taken to complete this process. The first complaint was received October 6, 2004. The second complaint was received November 24, 2004. These complaints involved two Commissioners. A recent Frederick County Ethics matter took more than 6 months to complete, and involved only one Commissioner. What delayed the Emmitsburg investigation even further was the refusal of the two Commissioners, despite numerous requests, to meet with the EEC in order to address the complaints.

Numerous misleading comments have been made by various residents of Emmitsburg that the EEC was not following any rules or procedures for operating. It is clear in Emmitsburg Municipal Code 2.32.020(c) that one of the primary responsibilities of the EEC is "to process and make determinations as to complaints filed by any person alleging violations." The procedure the EEC followed, as guided by the Town’s Attorney, was to first review the complaints. After unanimous agreement that the complaints appeared to have merit (had they not, they would have been dismissed at this point in the process) the next step was to interview the complainants and if found credible, to interview the two Commissioners subject to the complaints. Those Commissioners refused repeated requests throughout the process. A list of witnesses was then assembled as well as review of associated documentation. Witnesses were interviewed. A final meeting was held to discuss all the information collected and to organize a report. A Town Attorney was present at all of these. The EEC reached its conclusions, based upon sworn testimony of witnesses and supporting documentation.

Numerous misleading comments have been made that EEC Chairman Brennan is using the EEC as a political vendetta against the two Commissioners. The EEC is composed 3 independent individuals. All decisions were based on unanimous consent. One of the EEC members lives outside of Emmitsburg and has never been involved in any of the politics of Emmitsburg. This member didn’t even meet the other two members until after he was appointed by the Mayor, with the advice and consent of the Town Commissioners, just as all members were appointed.

Another misleading item is a claim that the EEC refused to provide rules and procedures, as ordered by the Town Commissioners. Per the March 21, 2005 Town Meeting Minutes, the EEC "directed to prepare a draft set of standard operating procedures for investigating ethics complaints and that the committee submit that said draft to the Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners on or before April 4, 2005." The EEC met this demand in the ordered time.

The EEC formed their decisions based on facts from sworn testimony and supporting documentation in memo and email form.

We urge you to read the report and draw your own conclusions.

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