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County commission passes ethics rules

Thirty-four county employees will now be required to file an annual financial statement disclosing outside business interests and gifts. They will be the first group of non-elected officials in the state required to submit that kind of information. Outreach for Common Cause Director, Sam Gresham, applauds the commission for pioneering such a policy in Ohio.

"It symbolically sends a message to staff about what will be tolerated in the way of behavior from the standpoint of kick backs and potential fraudulent activity. And I think from the county commissioners' standpoint it sets an outstanding tone."

Before adopting the policy the commissioners made a couple of changes. They clearly defined who a supervisor is and added a disclosure reminding employees they could be prosecuted if they make a false statement in their yearly financial report.

Commission president, Mary Jo Kilroy, says not everyone will be affected by the disclosure policy.

"The disclosure policy primarily affects directors and assistant directors and that group of course has been briefed."

The commission also formed an advisory committe. Its members from a cross section of the community will help the county monitor ethics rules.

"People from the law and policy area, people from the faith community, people who have served as elected officials and others so we can continue to work to make sure that the culture, the workplace culture here at the county is one that aspires to the highest ethical standards, and I think to do that we have to continue to work with and talk to our employees and talk to this committee."

Director of Jobs and Family Services, Doug Lumpkin, will be affected by the new policy and will also serve on the advisory committee. Lumpkin says the policy will not change the way he conducts business, but will reinforce it.

"What we're seeking to do through the policy is just reinforce that we as county employees and county execs are conducting ourselves ethically in our job duties everyday."

Outreach for Common Cause Director Gresham says he hopes other city councils around the state will take note from Franklin County and consider adopting their own ethics policy.