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It May Be Legal But Is It Ethical?

Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011


“I did it for the community, and I think we will be better off because of it.”
Terry Lee, former Pierce County councilman agrees that his decision to serve in his elected position while also holding a paid job for a park district in Washington State may look “suspect.” In fact, the board that hired him loosened its prior requirements for qualifications and ultimately selected Lee without interviewing other finalists.
But Lee defends his actions by saying they were not illegal, while acknowledging he started his final push for the county to transfer parklands while he was also negotiating to be the new executive director. Both he and the board insist there was no “quid pro quo” and no ethics complaint has been filed. But the situation leading up to his hiring calls into question the ethical decision-making process for both parties.
The story ran in The News Tribune, a local newspaper that reviewed public records and other documents, including an email from a former campaign adviser warning Lee about the appearance of a conflict. The facts make a perfect case study for anyone interested in learning about ethical dilemmas in government.


Tags: conflicts of interests, Pierce County Washington, quid pro quo, Terry Lee

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