From Citizens for Bob Cassilly:
I’ve been working hard to fill critical gaps in our emergency management system, successfully open the school year with our new and improved school board leadership, recruit new businesses that offer well-paying jobs, expand our parks and open spaces, and oppose the powerful developers and their cronies who are accustomed to using insider influence to manipulate the development process in county government.
I’m doing all this and more in county government while consistently facing vitriolic attacks from County Council member Aaron Penman, a strong ally to certain developers and their cronies who are outraged by my refusal to grant them the insider influence they previously enjoyed.
Mr. Penman’s latest tactic is trying to distract you from his own conflict-of-interest behavior. In his new dual status, his self-proclaimed entitlement to serve as both a council member and sheriff’s deputy, Mr. Penman operates in flagrant violation of basic principles of good governance, fundamentals of transparency, and the County Charter, which clearly precludes council members from holding county or state employment while serving as a council member.
Some will ask, “Didn’t the Court recently rule that public school kindergarten teacher Jacob Bennett, employed by the Board of Education, could hold a Council seat?” Yes, but the Court clearly indicated that ruling was based on the very “unique” (unusual) status the county Board of Education holds under the law as a locally elected and locally appointed independent body, making its operations distinct from other State and County offices, like the sheriff’s office.
The sheriff holds one of the oldest state offices and he and his deputies take an oath to uphold state and county laws. There is a major difference between kindergarten teachers and police officers in their relationship with and service to the county government.
More than just violating the County Charter, Councilman Penman’s position working for both the Sheriff and the County Council is a massive conflict of interest, a clear affront to integrity, transparency, and his obligation to the taxpayers. The sheriff’s very substantial operating and capital budgets are approved by the County Council, along with other benefits and matters of direct benefit to the sheriff.
As an employee and now essentially an inside lobbyist on behalf of the sheriff in all council deliberations, Councilman Penman cannot properly discharge his duties as a councilman to fairly and without prejudice evaluate and recommend funding for the sheriff’s budget, and impartially review other legislative requests. The sheriff determines Deputy Penman’s promotion, duty assignments, and other benefits of employment, making it impossible for Mr. Penman to serve as an unbiased councilman representing the taxpayers of his district while also being beholden to the sheriff for his employment, salary, duties, position, and work schedule.
Councilman Penman is attacking me with full force to distract you from the fact that in his dual role as a deputy and councilman, his salary and benefits are estimated at around $300,000 annually. (Those benefits offer a substantial inducement for compliance.) Please contact the council president and council members (contact information here) and urge them to take action to correct this situation.
Also, Mr. Penman has not yet filed his MANDATORY public ethics disclosure of his income sources that was due last May.