Commissioner Claggett did not abstain from vote on brother’s contractCounty Commission Chairman John Claggett voted Tuesday with other commissioners to award a nearly $9,000 security camera contract to Aurora Security Products of Letcher, a company owned by his brother, Paul.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
A contract to install nine additional security cameras at the Davison County Jail has raised conflict-of-interest questions. County Commission Chairman John Claggett voted Tuesday with other commissioners to award a nearly $9,000 security camera contract to Aurora Security Products of Letcher, a company owned by his brother, Paul.
John Claggett did not abstain from voting Tuesday on the action, nor did he mention his family connection to the other commissioners at that time.
Later, in an interview with The Daily Republic, Claggett called the vote an “oversight on my part” and said he was not aware at the time that the contract being voted on was from his brother’s company.
“In the past, I’ve recused myself from votes whenever he was involved,” Claggett said Thursday.
The commissioners unanimously approved the $8,903.76 contract in a brief jail hallway meeting immediately after Tuesday’s scheduled tour of the Davison County Jail.
The commissioners then returned to the courthouse for the balance of their weekly meeting.
State law prohibits an official from discussing or voting on an issue if that official has a direct “pecuniary,” or financial, interest in the matter being considered, or if “two-thirds of a governing body votes that an official has an identifiable conflict of interest that should prevent him from voting.”
Paul Claggett said he wasn’t aware of the details surrounding Tuesday’s commission vote, but he said his brother has “absolutely no” financial interest in Aurora Security Products.
Jail Administrator Don Radel said the county has a long history of using security equipment and services provided by the Claggett family.
Joseph Claggett, the Claggett brothers’ father, supplied security products to the county for years, Radel said. Paul Claggett sold the family business but later returned to the industry with Aurora Security Products. The county has been satisfied with ASP’s service, Radel said.
Deputy State’s Attorney Jim Taylor said Thursday that he will look into the matter.
“I would sure hope they made a record that if there are family members involved, that there’s no beneficial interest,” Taylor said in a phone interview. Taylor said he will inquire about the matter with Commissioner Claggett and Auditor Susan Kiepke. Commissioners Gerald Weiss, Kim Weitala and Randy Reider said they were unaware of the Claggett family relationship when they voted on the contract. Commissioner Denny Kiner could not be reached for comment.
Weitala said Claggett had mentioned that his family had a long-standing involvement in the security business with the county, but she was not aware of his brother’s ownership of Aurora Security Products.
She wondered if the relationship should have been included in contract information, adding, “In this day and age, it’s best to put everything out on the table.”
That was also Reider’s view.
With potential or perceived conflicts, Reider said, more “awareness and disclosure is usually prudent.”
The extra cameras are being added to beef up surveillance capabilities following a Jan. 1 inmate assault on corrections officer James Dietz. Dietz, who required surgery after the incident, has not yet returned to work.