MILTON – Town officials failed to comply with Milton’s ethics code by appointing a local GOP official to a town board.
Supervisor Dan Lewza and three of the four other Town Board members voted earlier this year to appoint Town of Milton Republican Committee member Megan Soden to the Zoning Board of Appeals. The move violates the ethics code, which was enacted in 2010 and doesn’t allow a town officer or employee to serve on a committee for “any political party or political organization,” according to the Times Union.
The town is considering a change to the code. Lewza and fellow board member Benny Zlotnick said they voted for Soden’s appointment on the condition that the code be changed. Lewza said the code is unconstitutional, according to the Times Union.
“It prohibits employees from joining a private organization. What I figure is if ethics are done the right way, it would be more for elected officials, not employees,” Lewza said. “This limits quite a few people from serving as a committee member.”
Town Board member Barbara Kerr was the only person on the all-Republican committee to vote against Soden’s appointment. She spoke against changing the ethics code and called for a nonpartisan board to review the issue and provide recommendations.
“We need to go over the changes that the Town Board would like to see, take public comment. We need a public hearing,” she said, according to the Times Union. “The only change I would consider is appointing committee members to sit on a non-policy-making body like the facilities committee. They make recommendations, not decisions and policy.”
Soden, who is already serving on the Zoning Board of Appeals, said she doesn’t want to resign but that she would if the rules aren’t changed.
“I don’t see it as a conflict of interest,” Soden said. “I would recuse myself when appropriate.”
The Times Union noted that the state Court of Appeals previously ruled that limits can be placed on elected officials or employees’ activities on political committees, and that those actions are not in violation of the state constitution.
Click here to read the full Times Union report.
Log in below and follow The Ballston Journal Online on Facebook.