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Big Island councilwoman cleared of ethics charges

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 5:11 a.m. HST, May 13, 2011


HILO >> A South Kona councilwoman has been cleared of ethics charges brought against her by a county fire commissioner.

West Hawaii Today reported the county Board of Ethics on Wednesday voted 3-1 to dismiss the charge against Councilwoman Brenda Ford.

She had been accused of violating the fair treatment section of the county's ethics code during the November confirmation hearings of James "Kimo" Lee.

Lee has claimed he was humiliated when Ford singled him out during the hearing.

Ford's attorney says she was exercising free speech when she made comments about Lee's qualifications for the commission.

Ethics board chair John Dill voted against clearing the charges and encouraged Lee to appeal the issue to Circuit Court.

The fair treatment section of the code requires county employees to be courteous and impartial.

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