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15 February 2010

Macon City Council Member Slapped With An Ethics Violation

Last month, Macon City Council member Elaine Lucas was the focus of a news report detailing an email she sent out announcing a fundraiser for former Gov. Roy Barnes [O'Donnell, Bernard (2010-1-6). Lucas: Using City Email for Announcement Was Mistake. WMAZ-TV. Retrieved on 2010-1-7.]. While the email itself was not a problem, the fact that Lucas ordered an assistant clerk for the Macon City Council to distribute the event notice using a government email address raised eyebrows among citizen watchdogs.

When asked about the email, Lucas admitted that her actions were "not appropriate."

"That was a mistake," said Lucas. "It was not appropriate to ask [Dorothy Tuggle, an assistant clerk for the city council] to do that."

Yet, Elaine Lucas is vowing to "clear her name" after a judge found her in violation of Macon's code of ethics.

Macon Councilwoman Elaine Lucas violated the city’s code of ethics when she directed a city employee to send an e-mail about a fundraiser for a gubernatorial candidate, a judge ruled Friday.

The city’s code of ethics says a city official cannot use city property or “direct a city employee to use such property for other than official purposes,” Municipal Court Judge Robert Faulkner said in his ruling. Also, a city official cannot use a city employee “for personal or private business during regular business hours or during the employee’s scheduled shift.”

At a news conference Friday afternoon, Lucas said she will have her lawyer prepare a response to the ruling and that she intends to clear her name.

“The only thing I requested the clerk do was to inform the media so the media could cover it if they wanted to,” Lucas said. “The e-mail was not of a personal nature. It was in my line of work as a City Council member in informing the media that there was an event going on in Ward I — that the former governor would be in Macon. ... I think (the ruling) was fair, but I plan to clear my name. I have not violated the code of ethics.”

Morris, Linda S (2010-2-13). Macon Councilwoman Lucas violates code of ethics, judge says. Macon Telegraph. Retrieved on 2010-2-15.

Allow me to repeat what I first wrote in January when this news came to light:

It is never okay to use gov't resources for partisan purposes.

This case, involving Macon City Council member Elaine Lucas, appears to be open and shut. Lucas herself admits that it was a mistake to use taxpayer-funded resources to publicize a campaign event. The best thing for Elaine Lucas to do right now is offer an apology to the people of Macon, pay the fine and move on.

Keeping this in the news doesn't help anyone.