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Calloway Ethics Commission: "No Further Formal Action" Involving Elkins Complaint

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Matt Markgraf
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WKMS
Calloway County Ethics Commission

The Calloway County Ethics Commission determined on Thursday state Representative-elect Larry Elkins violated a local code of ethics in using county government resources for his campaign.

The Kentucky Democratic Party filed complaints in September after finding contact information on Elkins’ campaign website went to his judge-executive office. In addition to the local complaint. the KDP also filed a complaint with the Kentucky Registry of Finance, alleging Elkins also violated a state law involving campaign contribution restrictions.

The code says members of county government cannot use their official position to secure unwarranted privileges or advantages.

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Credit Matt Markgraf / WKMS
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WKMS
Larry Elkins testifies

Elkins doesn’t deny the allegations, has expressed regret and said he "promptly corrected and rectified" the situation when it was brought to his attention.

He also acknowledged that his office took a phone call from someone at the KDP in September claiming to be a college student interested in volunteering for his campaign. Elkins said he returned the call, said it seemed suspicious and declined their offer of assistance.

In October, the KDP released what they said was more evidence in their complaint, which involved the subject matter of numerous emails released as the result of an open records request. Elkins said he used his email address for campaign purposes in error and takes responsibility for his mistakes.

He argued while he admits the mistakes, he believed he did not violate the code of ethics because he received no privileges and saw no financial gain from using government resources. He said the mistakes did not disrupt county operations or business and there was no financial loss to citizens.

County Attorney Bryan Ernstberger read the commission’s opinion that said they believe Elkins violated the code, but, based on the nature of the action, it would not continue by Elkins or any other official or employee. “As Mr. Elkins voluntary corrected and discontinued the actions that were the subject of the complaint the commission believes that no further formal action is appropriate,” Ernstberger read.

After the meeting, commission chairman Ed Davis told WKMS News the code is outdated and the commission plans to update it in the coming months. A date written on the code of ethics is January 4, 1999.  

Ernstberger and some commission members have said this matter is the first time the commission has met to consider a complaint. There was some turmoil involving membership as some appointees were unable to meet. The current commission is chairman Ed Davis, Mark Manning, Jeff Gentry, Carol Workman and Holly Bloodworth. The latter two were recently appointed by current Judge-Executive Kenny Imes.

Elkins retired as judge-executive at the end of September after serving for 20 years to run for District 5 state representative. He won the November election.

Matt Markgraf joined the WKMS team as a student in January 2007. He's served in a variety of roles over the years: as News Director March 2016-September 2019 and previously as the New Media & Promotions Coordinator beginning in 2011. Prior to that, he was a graduate and undergraduate assistant. He is currently the host of the international music show Imported on Sunday nights at 10 p.m.
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