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Shade Gets Opinion From Ethics Commission

December 9th, 2014 by WCBC Radio

Despite some concerns expressed by both state and local ethics commissions, Allegany County Commissioner-elect Jake Shade is moving forward with plans to serve as the legislative aide to newly elected House of Delegates 1B representative Jason Buckel.  Shade has served for several years in a similar capacity to former Delegate Leroy Myers and hopes that experience will bode well for Delegate-elect Buckel as well as Allegany County.  Shade, not wanting to proceed with any action that may be considered illegal or unethical, asked for opinions from the Allegany County Ethics Commission as well as from the General Assembly’s Ethics Counsel.  He said the local response did indicate that holding the positions concurrently could lead to potential areas of conflict of interests- and those obviously need to be avoided…




The letter addressed to Mr. Jake Shade, Allegany County Commissioner – Elect from the Ethics Commission for Allegany County, Maryland dated December 4, 2014 reads as follows:

"Dear Mr. Shade:

You have requested an advisory opinion concerning your potential part-time contractual employment with the Maryland General Assembly as a legislative aide for Delegate-Elect Jason Buckel.  Specifically, you have requested an opinion from the Ethics Commission as to whether this part-time employment with the Maryland General Assembly would create any ethical issues as it relates to your serving as an Allegany County Commissioner.  This correspondence is intended to provide a response to your inquiry.

As you know, the undersigned members of the Ethics Commission met with you personally on Monday, December 1, 2014, to discuss this situation.  The Commission has also reviewed the relevant Allegany County Code provisions.  The Commission believes that two provisions of the Allegany County Code are pertinent to this situation.

First, Code Section 98-4 "Conflicts of Interest," Section E(1)(b) provides that an official or employee of the County may not "hold any other employment relationship that would impair the impartiality or independence of judgment of the official or employee."  While there is no evidence that the part-time employment you are considering would impair your impartiality or independence of judgment with respect to your position as a Commissioner, that possibility would certainly exist.

Code Section 98-4m Section E(2)(d) provides that certain employment or financial interests should not be permitted if the employment creates a conflict of interest or "the appearance of a conflict of interest."  Although there is no indication that the part-time position under consideration would create a specific conflict of interest with your duties as a County Commissioner, it is the unanimous belief of the Commission that such an arrangement would, at minimum, create the appearance of a conflict of interest.

For the reasons set forth above, the Commission believes that the proposed part-time contractual employment as a Legislative Aide for Delegate-Elect Jason Buckel could potentially affect your impartiality or independence of judgment in your capacity as County Commissioner and, at a minimum, would create the appearance of a conflict of interest with respect to your duties as a County Commissioner.

Please understand that this letter constitutes an opinion of the Allegany County Ethics Commission, and is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor is it intended to serve as a prohibition to any employment you are considering.  Again, it is merely an advisory opinion.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Very truly yours,

Lynn Workmeister, Chairman

Terry Hostetler

Bruce A. Kirkwood"



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