Board or Committee Meeting
Wednesday, May 31, 2023 - 6:00pm to 7:00pm

Topic: May 31, 2023 Ethics Commission Meeting

Time: May 31, 2023 06:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)


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Laurel Ethics Commission

Virtual Meeting by Zoom


Wednesday May 31, 2023

6:00 P.M.


If you wish to provide written testimony on any agenda item, you may send by mail to the Laurel Municipal Center or email to Laura Christoplos at [email protected].



  1. Call to Order


  1. Roll Call
  2. Approval of May 31, 2023, Meeting Agenda
  3. Briefing from City Administrator
  4. Approval of Minutes from the meeting of February 6, 2023
  5. Discussion of 2022 Financial Disclosure Statement review
  6. General Public Hearing
  7. Adjournment




Meeting Minutes

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Virtual Meeting via Zoom


The Ethics Commission Meeting was called to order at 6:05 PM by Chairman James Hester. Roll was called with Chair Hester, Vice Chair Bardwell, Commissioners Drake and Scaggs, and Alternate Crook in attendance. Also in attendance were Ethics Commission Counsel Dennis Whitley, City Administrator Christian L. Pulley, CPM, and Administrative Assistant II Laura Christoplos.

On a motion by Alternate Crook, seconded by Commissioner Scaggs, the meeting agenda for May 31, 2023, was approved unanimously.

On a motion by Vice Chair Bardwell, seconded by Commissioner Scaggs, the minutes from the February 6, 2023, meeting were approved unanimously as written.

Administrator Pulley briefed the Commission on the situation with a Financial Disclosure Statement from 2021 being removed from the City Administrator’s Office.


On May 1, 2023, Councilman Mitchell asked to see his 2021 Financial Disclosure Statement (FDS). Rather than reviewing it in house, he removed it from the City Administrator’s Office and from City Hall. On May 8, 2023, he returned to the City Administrator’s Office and staff requested he return the 2021 FDS. He said he had lost it.


Administrator Pulley sent a memo to Chair Hester explaining what had happened, and on May 11, 2023, a memo was sent to Councilman Mitchell saying the document needed to be returned. When no response was forthcoming, there were discussions and an internal meeting including the Ethics Counsel and the City Solicitor. The City Solicitor drafted a memo to Councilman Mitchell that went out on May 19, 2023, stating that he had until the end of business on May 22, 2023, to return it or the matter would be turned over to the State’s Ethics Commission. The original document was returned to the City Solicitor at the Council meeting on May 22, 2023.


At this time Mr. Mitchell has not submitted his FDS for 2022.


2022 Financial Disclosure Statement Review:


Chair Hester gave an overview of the subcommittee report. Vice Chair Bardwell gave a summary of what was found. The information in the summary is current as of today.


The question of e-signatures was brought up for future discussion of whether they will be allowed going forward. Currently, they are not acceptable. Staff will inform the Commission member who sent in an e-signature that a wet signature is required.


There was one comment about the direct financial impact of being on the Board of Trustees. It had previously been decided that it was not a direct conflict of interest.


It was decided that Shirley Bell, being on the Youth Services Commission (YSC) and Crime Solvers, is not an issue since YSC grants do not go to the Crime Solvers Committee. Commissioner Drake suggested that the Chair of the YSC needs to talk to the other members since only one person on the Commission had submitted their FDS.


Timothy Miller’s case was discussed at length. He previously worked for KCI Technologies and still owns several shares of stock. Mr. Miller has recused himself from deciding which of the on-call firms would be assigned to City projects. Chair Hester felt that he should not be involved in managing any project that KCI is involved in whether he assigned them to the project or not. Chair Hester would like something in writing saying Mr. Miller is not involved in selecting or managing projects involving KCI. Administrator Pulley could see a situation where he may have to work with them. Chair Hester asked staff to talk to Mr. Miller about divesting himself of the stocks.


Administrator Pulley asked that this be included in the recommendations to the Mayor so we can get an answer and move forward.


Council President Smith checked that he did not have any interest in real property in the City, County, or State of Maryland, leading to a question of whether he actually lives in Laurel if he is not an owner or a tenant. There was discussion of clarifying the language on the form to reflect the location of the person’s legal principal residence. Last year we got a copy of his driver’s license.


He also did not fill out the checklist on page 2 correctly and left a detail out of his work address. He works in Washington, DC and did not include the quadrant of the city. Staff will contact him about clearing up these problems.


Councilman DeWalt needs to answer Schedule A, Questions 7 and 8.


Chair Hester thanked the subcommittee members for all their work.


Kerri Fuller did not submit since she had suffered a major stroke and has not recovered. Her fines are waived until, if ever, she is able to fill out the FDS. This will be communicated to the Arts Council Chair.


Inka Patel submitted a letter requesting a waiver of her fine this year since there were extenuating circumstances and she has always submitted on time before. Commissioners Drake and Scaggs felt we should give her a waiver this year since she has been compliant in the past.


Staff will compose a letter to the Mayor recommending fines for those who submitted their FDS late. Mr. Whitley mentioned that the fines are discretionary, so waiving the fines for good reason should be acceptable.


Vice Chair Bardwell made a motion that was seconded by Commissioner Scaggs that the actions discussed during the meeting be initiated. The motion was passed unanimously.


The General Public meeting was opened and closed at 7:06 PM.


Administrator Pulley mentioned that the updated Ethics Ordinance, which was approved by the State, is going before the City Council at the Virtual Work Session this coming Wednesday, June 7, 2023.


Mr. Whitley is presenting to the Council. Both the work session and the meetings will be virtual. It should be approved at the first meeting in July. An invitation will be provided to the Commission members to attend these meetings and be on hand to answer any questions.


The third week of June was suggested for a follow up meeting.


On a motion by Vice Chair Bardwell, seconded by Commissioner Scaggs the meeting was adjourned

At 7:12 PM.


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