Mayor, 2 aldermen late with economic filings

June 7, 2014 11:03:13 PM

Carl Smith - [email protected]


The Mississippi Ethics Commission website shows Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman and Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver filed their annual statements of economic interest past the May 1 deadline and lists no such filing yet for Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn. 


All statewide, district, county and municipal elected officials must file SEIs with the state Ethics Commission each year. Incumbents must file every year on or before May 1, while appointees must file within 30 days of assuming office.  


The one-page statement provides a brief snapshot of officials' economic ties, including income earned from all businesses and entities, control or ownership of companies and work and financial ties of spouses and other persons who reside with them. 


Anyone who fails to file within a year of the applicable deadline or who knowingly fails to disclose required information can be fined up to $10,000, according to the commission's website. 


Five Starkville aldermen -- Lisa Wynn, David Little, Jason Walker, Scott Maynard and Roy A. Perkins -- filed their SEIs between April 11-22, but Carver submitted his on May 6, five days after the deadline. 


The website lists 2009 and 2010 submissions for Vaughn, but a 2013 statement is not yet posted. A 2011 SEI for the Ward 7 alderman is not present on the website. 


Vaughn's 2009 SEI, as downloaded from the site, states it was filed March 13, 2013, the same date listed for his 2012 filing.  


The state Ethics Commission did not list Vaughn's submission as of Thursday. When officials file their statements online, the website posts the submission online but designates it as pending while it is reviewed. 


The Dispatch asked Vaughn about the status of his SEI during a brief board recess Tuesday before aldermen discussed a personnel issue with sanitation employees behind closed doors. He ignored the question and walked back into the boardroom. 


Vaughn is the focus of one of two pending ethics complaints against the city after he cast a vote in a February Starkville School District Board of Trustees appointment. 


The state Ethics Commission warned him in 2010 to cease voting in school board matters since he is related to a SSD employee. 


Vaughn's 2009, 2010 and 2012 SEIs list two additional household members besides the Ward 7 alderman. The 2010 and 2012 statements say those two -- a spouse and another household member -- both earned at least $1,000 from Starkville public schools in the preceding years. The 2009 report does not list any other household members' income sources. 


After the February vote, Vaughn confirmed to The Dispatch that his daughter, at the time, worked for the school system but said he voted because she does not live with him. 


Walker and Maynard both recused themselves from the same vote since Walker's wife is tied to SSD and Maynard's son works for the public school system. Maynard confirmed after the meeting that his son does not live with him. 


City minutes show Vaughn recused in many school board appointments since 2010. The ethics commission warned him and former Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas after the pair participated in votes earlier that year. They were advised to withdraw from future interview and appointment processes because of immediate family members that worked in the system and to avoid any appearance of impropriety.

Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch