Spokane City Council President denies violating City's Ethics Co - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Spokane City Council President denies violating City's Ethics Code

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Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart
SPOKANE, Wash. - On Friday, Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart found himself the subject of a possible ethics violation for leaking what city officials are calling a highly confidential email.

City officials say Stuckart forwarded an email that dealt with pending litigation about a lawsuit against the city. The letter came from a city attorney, to the Mayor and council members, and the subject line read "Attorney-Client Privileged Only." However, city officials say Stuckart sent the letter to the person suing the city. Stuckart says all the information in that letter was publicly known anyway.

Stuckart did admit to wrongdoing, writing in a statement that he should not have forwarded the email. "In forwarding the email," Stuckart wrote, "I merely intended to provide information to city employees to provide assurance that the city stands by its publicly stated policy direction. I should have waited for legal approval."

Stuckart goes on to say he does not believe he violated the City's Ethics Code, writing, "There was no harm to the city, and any potential harm was de minimis and inconsequential in nature." 'De Minimis' means trivial, or light in nature. Stuckart's attorney says they hope to meet with the City's Ethics Commission to discuss the matter next week.

Entire statement from City Council President Ben Stuckart:

 On Thursday afternoon, I was notified by the Mayor's legal staff that they forwarded information about a potential ethics violation against me to the City's Ethics Committee. This information claims that I forwarded a confidential email protected by attorney-client privilege.

I did forward that email, and I should not have done that. For this I apologize. In forwarding this email, I merely intended to provide information to city employees to provide assurance that the City stands by its publicly stated policy direction. I should have waited for legal approval.

I do not believe that my action violated the City's Ethics Code. There was no harm to the City, and any potential harm was de minimis and inconsequential in nature.

The email which was provided to the Ethics Committee was completely redacted and therefore does not show that my forwarding of this email, while ill-advised, harmed the City at all.

In addition, my action did not waive or violate the attorney-client privilege – a waiver requires a majority vote of the full Council.

The City of Spokane lost the firefighters appeal not because I forwarded an email, but because of the clear erosion of our civil service caused by the creation of a fire division with multiple departments.  I stated that this was an illegal action in my public testimony in 2013 and the courts agreed with me.

Going forward, I will request to begin a dialogue with the Ethics Commission to seek the proper conclusion to this matter, and will continue my work to pass a budget that is on time and reflects the community's values.
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