DA’s investigation uncovers possible Sunshine Law violations by Morgan County executive, commission

WARTBURG (WATE) – An investigation of Morgan County Executive Don Edwards conducted by District Attorney General Russell Johnson indicates several possible violations of state Sunshine Law.

Johnson’s office subpoenaed and reviewed around 21,000 emails sent from Edwards’ work email address between January 2014 and December 2016 and found Edwards had communicated with around half of county commissioners about matters the entire commission was to vote on. In those instances, Johnson says Edwards directed a group of commissioners to vote a certain way in order to combat the wishes and views of the other half.

The two clearest violations, according to Johnson, concerned the replacement of Morgan County Economic and Development Board members and the replacement of Morgan County Commission Finance Committee members. The emails showed Edwards urged the board to replace certain members and provided a list of recommendations, directing the commissioners to also recommend them. In the case of the Finance Committee, the emails showed Edwards even walked commissioners through the process of who was supposed to make which motion and who should second those motions.

More online: Read the full grand jury report [PDF]

Johnson’s report showed Edwards and county commissioners have already undergone Sunshine Law training with the County Technical Assistance Service. The Morgan County Grand Jury has asked for the county attorney to report what actions he has done to address the issues.

The grand jury is also requesting an investigation into the Sunbright Police Department, specifically procedures for seizing of property and policy for mutual cooperation with the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department and other agencies, after the grand jury said it has received several allegations and complaints about the department.

 

 

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