Lee Board restructures code of ethics

Feb. 18, 2013 @ 10:01 PM

The Lee County Board of Commissioners has unanimously agreed to restructure a section of the board's code of ethics — including striking any mention of discouraging commissioners from making pledges or promises.

The section of the board's code of ethics that originally stated, "A county commissioner should refrain from political activity inappropriate to his or her office," was changed to state a commissioner should support good government during the commissioners' meeting Monday night.

The altered section originally discouraged commissioners and candidates seeking a commission seat from signing pledges, making campaign promises or misrepresenting themselves or their qualifications, among other items.

The section was rewritten to state "county commissioners have a civic responsibility to promote good government by any and all appropriate means."

Lee County Interim Attorney Neil Yarborough said the code of ethics is something the commissioners should strive for, but there are not penalties or enforcement mechanisms to make sure commissioners follow the code.

The discussion of commissioners making pledges or promises arose during the recent election when three of the six commissioner candidates signed the Commissioners' Covenant with the Citizens of Lee County, which outlined a set of pledges that governs the actions of the commissioners if elected.

Commissioner Jim Womack said Monday he was concerned with the original section applying to candidates and that the candidates would be held accountable by the voters once elected.   

Full coverage of the meeting Monday will be available in Wednesday's Herald.