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Ethics panel plans review of golf trip

June 24, 1997

By STEVEN T. DENNIS

Staff Writer

The Washington County Ethics Commission will review a trip to The Masters golf tournament by three top county officials, a commission member said Monday.

"We haven't had a full meeting yet but I've met with the county attorney ... and we will be a having a full meeting on the matter in the near future," said Omer T. Kaylor Jr., a Hagerstown lawyer.

In April, Washington County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook, County Administrator Rodney M. Shoop and County Personnel Director Alan Davis attended The Masters tournament in Augusta, Ga. They used tickets provided by INVESCO, the company that invests Washington County's $22 million employee pension fund.

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Snook, Shoop and Davis said they paid $400 each for the use of the $100 badges that got them into two days of the four-day tournament and reimbursed INVESCO for their food and lodging.

Golf Digest Senior Editor Mike O'Malley said scalpers were selling the coveted tickets for as much as $8,000.

Kaylor said he didn't know whether the meeting would be public.

"This is the first issue that we've had, so we're going to have to figure out procedure as we go," said Kaylor, who's been on the commission for two years.

"It may be that there should be a preliminary investigation and then decide whether to hold a public hearing."

According to the county's ethics ordinance, the commission may issue a cease and desist order and seek enforcement of such an order in the Washington County Circuit Court. The court can issue a cease and desist order and may impose a $1,000 fine for any violation of the ordinance.

Davis said he has no problem with the Ethics Commission investigating the trip. "That's the prerogative of the Ethics Commission, so that's fine," he said.

Davis had said earlier that County Attorney Richard Douglas was consulted before the trip, and had determined it was not a violation.

INVESCO's contract with the county is subject to a competitive bidding process and is decided in open session by a majority vote of all five commissioners, Douglas has said. Davis has said he thinks the contract comes up for renewal in the spring of 1998.

Snook and Shoop did not return phone calls.

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