Ethics commission fines UT president

Ethics commission fines UT president

By: AP

NASHVILLE (AP) — The Tennessee Ethics Commission voted Tuesday to fine University of Tennessee President John Petersen $250 for missing a deadline on his disclosure form. The panel also wants to know why Petersen said on his form that he doesn’t have any investments. Commission executive director Bruce Androphy said he planned to have the panel’s general counsel call Petersen to see whether he “understood the question.” When contacted by The Associated Press about the issue, UT spokesman Hank Dye said the president did “misinterpret the question.” Dye said he had talked to the commission and Petersen — who was out of town — and that the president planned to pay the fine immediately and resend an amended form that showed his investments. More than 7,000 elected and appointed state officials are required to submit disclosure reports to the commission. The reports are intended to expose any potential conflicts of interests. Under ethics filing rules, a person can be fined $25 for each day the disclosure is late, with a cap of $750. The rules came after the FBI’s Operation Tennessee Waltz corruption sting of state and local officials in 2005. Dick Williams of Common Cause, a group that advocates for stronger ethics and open government laws, said Petersen’s fine was fair. “It’s enough to get people’s attention, but not enough to overly penalize somebody,” Williams said. Also Tuesday, the commission discussed legislation passed by the recent General Assembly that would restrict some of its power. Published in The Messenger 5.28.08

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