Slockett appeals ethics complaint

BY AMY SKARNULIS | JULY 03, 2012 6:30 AM

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Johnson County Auditor Tom Slockett said the reason he appealed the ethics complaint filed against him is because the complaint could negatively affect more than just his own reputation.

"If this letter of reprimand stays in place, I think it will have a negative impact on elected officials throughout the state," he told The Daily Iowan Monday.

Nathan Reckman — a former employee of Slockett's — filed a complaint against Slockett through the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board on April 25.

"[Reckman] said he filed the complaint [because] Slockett was campaigning while in the office," said Megan Tooker, the executive director of the ethics board. "To my understanding, he was using his personal cell phone while during office hours."

The complaint alleged Slockett used government resources for political purposes in violation of Iowa Code section 68A.505. The ethics board determined the complaint was legally sufficient and ordered its staff to conduct an expedited investigation, the complaint said.

The ethics complaint alleges that Slockett distributed a re-election petition to his employees and called campaign supporters from his office, among other things.

The fourth allegation mentioned — and the only allegation Slockett was found guilty of by the board — concerned Slockett making numerous campaign-related telephone calls during the week of April 26 while he was in the Auditor's Office.

Linn County Auditor Joel Miller said he avoids falling into a similar situation by carrying two cell phones — a personal phone and one owned by the county.

"I have informed my family and friends to call my personal cell phone for personal business," he wrote in an email. "I have informed my employees to call my office extension … for official business and [dial to be forwarded] to my county-owned cell phone if I do not answer."

Miller said he takes personal calls at work, and official calls to his county owned phones sometimes include discussion of unofficial business. However, he does not encourage campaign workers to call his county-owned phones.

For city officials, there isn't a written policy prohibiting personal cell phone use during work hours.

Adam Bentley, administrative assistant to the city manager, said there are two options for city employees. City officials can use a cell phone provided to them by the city solely for work, or they may accept a $25 a month allowance to conduct city business on a personal cell phone.

"We do not have a policy that says they can't use their personal cell phone during work hours," he said. "Generally, we would hope they would use their cell phones during their breaks."

Veronica Fowler, the communications director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, said this is not a criminal proceeding and there are no fines involved at this point.

"[Slockett] is doing this because he feels it is not right and it may have implications on [other elections] and we agree," she said. "Waiting for a response from the ethics board is the next step."

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