Ethics complaints filed relating to Port Authority; County Attorneys dismiss claims

Three ethics complaints were filed in relation to the Port Authority project last week, alleging “conflicts of interest” against Mitchell County Attorney Mark Walk, Mitchell County Supervisor Stan Walk, and Worth County Supervisor Merlin Bartz.

Al Winters, who is running to be on the Mitchell County Board of Supervisors, announced he was filing the complaints during a June 26 meeting of the Supervisors.

Winters accuses Mark Walk and Stan Walk of a lack of transparency regarding the Port Authority, the use TIF money and a commercial construction loan program. In his statement, Winters stated that Mark Walk must refer the matter to another county attorney for review, one that is not associated with the Port Authority.

Walk said after the meeting that Winters should choose the county attorney, stating that he has met and established relationships with several of his colleagues over the last 24 years. Walk also said that he himself is not related to the Port Authority, has never been to one of their meetings and does not represent them legally.

Further,  Mark Walk said in a response to Winters that he did “not see a complaint in it,” noting that Winters doesn’t reference any violation in his complaint.

Winters also alleges “possible conflicts of interest exist regarding real estate purchase by Merlin Bartz and then leased to the Port Authority by Merlin Bartz,” as Bartz is a member of the Port Authority.    

Bartz released a statement Monday dismissing the allegations as “frivolous”, noting that Worth County Attorney Jeff Greve looked into the matter.

“You fail to allege an actual violation of the Iowa Code or cite the code section that Mr. Bartz has violated,” Greve said in a response to Winters.

Greve went on to say that a potential for conflict of interest exists in the Bartz land deal, but said Bartz publicly disclosed the existence of the conflict and refrained from taking any official action relating to his ownership of the land, and therefore did not violate the law.

“When you serve in public office as long as I have and express your views on things, you always know in the back of your mind that you are vulnerable to someone eventually filing a bogus ethics charge because they disagree with you on an issue,” Bartz said in a release.

Winters calls for more transparency, saying the actions of Walk and Bartz are not “open, fair and transparent government.”

“As a candidate for public office, Mr. Winters is advocating for more transparency. I believe that is a noble goal. But transparency is a two-way street,” Bartz said in response. “All the actions I have taken on behalf of Worth County or the Port Authority were taken in public on behalf of the public and are recorded public records.”

Bartz goes on request in the name of transparency, that Winters publicly post Bartz’s response and Greve’s letter on Facebook.

To see Winter’s complaint and Bartz’s response, click here.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *