Chism Faces Ethics Violation And Possible Removal From Commission

(Memphis) Bad blood among Shelby County commissioners continues to boil as the ethics case against Commissioner Sidney Chism rages on.

Chism is accused of breaking the rules when he voted on a Head Start fund that ended up in his pocket because his wife owns a daycare center.

Chism could face public censure or forced removal from his seat on the Shelby County Commission if found guilty of violating ethics rules.

That decision is still unknown as the three person ethics panel had to delay the presentation of evidence because one of the members had to resign over health concerns.

Now a new member must be appointed.

Chism attorney says he’s ready to clear his name.

“We have some fundamental differences between the way we interpret the codes that impact this panel and this process than does the county,” said Ricky Wilkins.

It may not be that easy.

Over the span of several years, Chism voted on more than a million dollars in Head Start funds, with some of that money going to a daycare owned by Chism and his wife.

The rules say if you have personal interest in business before the commission, you must make that publicly known.

Commissioner Terry Roland initiated the ethics investigation when Chism never released the information.

Chism’s attorney says he never had to expose his business before the vote because all the commissioners knew he owned a daycare, but the special county attorney says that’s not the case.

“It wouldn’t matter here if every single member of the Board of Commissioners knew about it. The formality here is to disclose it at the time of the vote so those in the public who are trying to watch the proceedings and understand the decisions can be made to be aware that this person has an interest in what they’re voting on,” said Special County Attorney Brian Faughnan.

Once the panel gets its third member they will decide if what Chism did was wrong and what his punishment should be if found guilty.

The rescheduled hearing will be November 5th and attorneys say they don’t expect this to be resolved for several months.

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