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Ethics board fines, reprimands Houghlin for violation of county ethics rules

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Saturday, June 28, 2014, 10:30 p.m. — The Joint City-County Ethics Board has fined and reprimanded Nelson County Coroner Field Houghlin for violating the county’s ethics rules on nepotism by hiring his daughter as a deputy coroner.

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FIELD HOUGHLIN

Houghlin was fined $1,000, and the board will also seek repayment of Rebecca Houghlin’s pay during her tenure as deputy coroner.

The board has not yet released the complete ruling to the media, but has made it available to the parties involved, including Houghlin, his attorney Doug Hubbard, and Danielle Chladek, who filed the original complaint.

Mary McCann, Mayor Bill Sheckles’ executive assistant who also serves as the board’s secretary, explained Friday that the board’s final report would not be available until the board was certain all parties involved had received a copy. McCann said the board will then alert the media by certified mail of the ruling, and a copy can be obtained via an Open Records request.

The Nelson County Gazette filed its Open Records request for a copy of the board’s report on Friday afternoon.

Chladek was out of town at press time, but stated by text message that she was pleased with the board’s decision.

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REBECCA HOUGHLIN

“The Ethics Board was created to insure ethical practices, follow-up on complaints, and decide with an appropriate ruling,” she wrote. “I stand behind their ruling on this case, and believe it to be an appropriate decision for Nelson County.”

Chladek filed the complaint with the ethics board after Coroner Field Houghlin hired his daughter, Rebecca Houghlin, as a deputy coroner. The county’s ethics ordinance expressly prohibits elected officials from hiring a close relative. Chladek is a Republican candidate for coroner and will face Houghlin in the November general election.

After the complaint was filed, Houghlin asked his daughter to resign and in an April 29 press release, said his violation of the county’s ethics ordinance was unintentional. In the June 4th ethics board hearing, Hubbard asked the board to consider that his client never intended to violate the ordinance.

After the hearing the board went into executive session to discuss the matter. The board met again in executive session on June 24.

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