LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. (WAFF) - UPDATE (10/8/2020 at 1 p.m.): WAFF has confirmed the dismissal of ethics violation accusations against Limestone County Commissioner Ben Harrison.
Alabama Ethics Commission Executive Director Tom Albritton says the complaints against the commissioner have been dismissed.
UPDATE (10/8/2020 at 9 a.m.): According to a release from the team of Limestone County Commissioner Ben Harrison, the Commissioner was cleared of any wrongdoing by the State Ethics Commission Wednesday afternoon.
See the full statement from Harrison’s release:
I want to thank the Ethics Commission and the investigators for their hard work. They looked into every aspect of this case in a thorough and careful investigation.
I cannot talk about every aspect of the complaints filed against me for legal reasons, but I can talk about where at least some of these false and misleading accusations came from. I believe it is important for people to know who started these complaints, and what happened behind the scene leading up to this hearing. I believe the Ethics Commission was used as a political tool and that concerns me not only for my campaign, but for every candidate across our State. The only way I know to stop this type of behavior is to expose it whenever possible. I am confident that the people of Limestone County will see through these political attacks once they know where they came from.
At least two of the ethics complaints were initiated by Greg Poss, who was the 5th District Democrat Campaign Coordinator, and also heavily involved in my opponents campaign. I think it’s pretty obvious that these complaints were politically motivated. I am a Republican, and I suspect that my opponent’s campaign and the democrat establishment wanted to see my name dragged through the mud before the election on November 3rd.
Using the State Ethics Commission as a political tool is inappropriate, and I believe that is what happened here. My family and I are relieved to move past this hearing, but I am so disappointed in what politics is becoming even at the local level. I love this community and I would never do anything to intentionally harm it. I am committed to running on the issues and talking about what is best for the people of Limestone County, and not on hearsay and false accusations.
The release states that all charges were dismissed. The statement also claims the hearing followed three complaints that were made accusing Commissioner Harrison of using his political position for personal gain.
Following Commissioner Harrison’s release, the campaign of LaDon Townsend issued the following statement:
"I want to thank the Alabama Ethics Commission for completing a full investigation, in person, in Montgomery investigating the ethics complaints against my opponent.
My opponent has tried to ruin my name and creditability several times during this campaign by associating Greg Poss with my campaign and having me removed from the Republican ticket in the 2020 republican primary which caused the residents of district 4 to lose their right to choose who they wanted on the Republican ticket.
I, LaDon Townsend, do not know Greg Poss on a personal level. He reached out via Facebook, as so many others have, and attended my community events. It seems like my opponent is creating a political attack against me and our district deserves so much better.
Furthermore, as stated above, the news release from Ben Harrison was a total lie and had several false statements. As part of my campaign, I have remained open and transparent, including with media outlets. I am disappointed to see a story was published and put online without checking with me to see if the claims Harrison made were true and accurate. The media is encouraged to call me to verify any information about my campaign at 256-431-0938.
There have been way too many ethical concerns surrounding our local elected officials in Limestone County. As a candidate for Limestone County District 4 county commissioner, we need accountability and transparency now more than ever.
If you want honest leadership, vote, on November 3, for the conservative, independent voice for the Limestone County Commission."
WAFF has reached out to the Ethics Commission multiple times for confirmation of the charges being dropped. The Commission has not responded at this time.
Any further updates will be posted to this story.
ORIGINAL: A local county commissioner is now being summoned by the Alabama Ethics Board.
Ben Harrison is the long time county commissioner for District 4 in Limestone County.
WAFF’s Jenna Rae obtained documents that allege Harrison violated Alabama codes of ethics laws. According to these documents, the hearing is happening on October 7th in Montgomery.
Documents allege Harrison used his political position to garner political favors.
Editor’s Note: An update published to this story late Wednesday evening did not attribute the source of the information as “email@example.com.” The release included Commissioner Harrison’s attorney Mark White as a contact for more information.