Ethics commission dismisses complaint against Estacada councilor
The Oregon Government Ethics Commission has dismissed a complaint that alleged an Estacada City Councilor violated state law during an Urban Renewal Meeting in July.
City Council President Katy Dunsmuir filed the complaint against councilor Justin Gates. It focused on a $30,000 grant to Cascade Utilities awarded during an Urban Renewal Board meeting on Tuesday, July 14, and alleged a conflict of interest. Gates is the business development manager at Mastertech Security Services, which shares owners with Cascade Utilities but is a separate company.
Gates made the motion to approve the grant, and all other councilors in attendance voted in support.
The complaint cited ORS 244.120, which requires public officials to publicly announce potential conflicts of interest and prohibits officials from voting or participating in any discussion or debate in the event of an actual conflict, and ORS 244.040, which prohibits public officials from using or attempting to use their position to acquire financial gain or avoidance of financial detriment for themselves, a relative or member of their household, or any business with which they, a relative or member of their household is associated, if it would not otherwise be available to them.
However, the ethics commission found that Mastertech Security is not a subsidiary of Cascade Utilities, and therefore, not a business with which Gates is associated.
"The complaint suggests that Brenda Crosby's common ownership of both Cascade Utilities and Mastertech Security Services makes Cascade Utilities a business with which Justin Gates is associated for purposes of both conflicts of interest and prohibited use of office. Common ownership is not determinative of whether a business is a 'business with which the person is associated,'" the report stated. "In this case, Justin Gates is employed by Mastertech Security Services, which does not appear to be a subsidiary of Cascade Utilities. Since Justin Gates is not an owner, officer or employee of Cascade Utilities, Cascade Utilities is not a business with which Justin Gates is associated."
The grant awarded to Cascade Utilities will support exterior improvements at 301 S.W. Highway 224, the building that houses Subway, the Estacada Liquor Store, Betty Viveiros CPA, CBDlish and Timber Town Fitness.
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