Kingsport Times-News: Hawkins commissioner files ethics complaint over 'misleading' campaign ad

Hawkins commissioner files ethics complaint over 'misleading' campaign ad

Jeff Bobo • Jul 3, 2018 at 8:02 AM

ROGERSVILLE — The race for the three Hawkins County Commission seats in District 3 is heating up, with one longtime commissioner filing an ethics complaint against the other Monday over a "misleading" campaign ad.

Commissioner Danny Alvis recently sent out a campaign ad in the mail expressing his viewpoint on several current issues in Hawkins County.

Part of the ad states, "This is how Commissioners in the 3rd District voted on the last raise in the property tax during the 2014-15 fiscal year,"  and there is a graphic showing that Alvis and Commissioner Greg Fletcher voted no for the 12-cent increase and that Vaughan abstained.

But, according to the minutes from the Sept. 29, 2014, commission meeting, Vaughan and Alvis voted no and Fletcher voted yes.

On Monday, Vaughan filed an ethics complaint against Alvis in the Hawkins County Clerk's office stating, “I feel Commissioner Alvis openly printed a lie in an attempt to gain votes."

"This information on the vote is inaccurate and misleading," Vaughan states in his complaint. "It is not my intent to cause harm to the Danny Alvis campaign, however I cannot continue to let untrue information be circulated."

The Times News contacted Alvis on Monday, and he initially stood by his campaign ad as accurate.

The Times News then acquired the minutes from the Sept. 29, 2014, meeting.

As it turns out, there were five votes on a resolution establishing the 2014-15 budget before it was approved, and on each of those votes Vaughan abstained.

In a separate resolution setting the actual property tax rate 12 cents higher, Vaughan voted no.

When presented with those findings, Alvis told the Times News that if he made a mistake he will apologize to Vaughan.

Vaughan, who serves as the current Budget Committee chairman, is in a four-way fight for three available District 3 commission seats in the Aug. 2 county general election against fellow Republicans Alvis and Charlie Thacker as well as Independent Charles Housewright. 

When an ethics complaint is filed involving Hawkins County government, that complaint is reviewed by the County Commission's Ethics Committee, which then determines if there will be a hearing.

If a hearing takes place, the Ethics Committee may either dismiss the complaint, issue a public censure, or in the most severe cases, refer the complaint to law enforcement.

In the history of the Ethics Committee, however, every complaint filed so far has ultimately been dismissed.

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