SC Ethics Commission dismisses Ross’s complaint against Councilman Brock

BLYTHEWOOD – The State Ethics Commission has dismissed a complaint filed Feb. 7, 2022, by Mike Ross against Blythewood Town Councilman Donald Brock.

“I’m frustrated that our town is now tied up in two lawsuits because of this councilman’s actions to deceive the people and his other council members,” Ross wrote in his complaint. “The final vote taken on the contract had to be illegal because of the misinformation presented and supported by Councilman Brock.”

According to MPA Strategies’ lawsuit, it was filed against the Town after Mayor Bryan Franklin failed to turn over documents to MPA’s attorney Joseph Dickey, Jr., that Dickey requested under the Freedom of Information Act.

To support the allegations in his ethics complaint, Ross submitted copies of pages from stories published in the Jan. 27, 2022 and Feb. 3, 2022 issues of the Country Chronicle. The story that Ross specifically referenced was titled, ‘MPA Strategies Lawsuit Leads to Mounting Concerns About Councilman’s Role in Contract Negotiations,” by Tonya Page.’

“There looks to be blatant fraud and deception on the part of Councilman Donald C. (sic) Brock,” Ross wrote. His complaint was notarized by the Blythewood town hall’s office manager.

After reviewing the complaint on Feb. 28, 2022, and considering the allegations, Ethics Commission Executive Director Meghan L. Walker wrote that the complaint failed to allege sufficient facts which would constitute a violation of the Ethics Reform Act.

“The complaint is therefore dismissed,” Walker wrote in a letter to Brock, dated the next day, March 1, 2022.

“It should come as no surprise that Mr. Ross filed an ethics complaint about me after reading the ridiculous propaganda that the Country Chronicle has published,” Brock commented about Ross’ complaint. 

“Even more, the fact that it was immediately dismissed only lends itself to the blatant falsehoods within his complaint.  He says he’s frustrated?  So am I, as I expect better of someone who identifies himself to the Ethics Commission as the ‘Former Mayor.’ This is petty; he can do better,” Brock added.

Ross’s complaint stems from the Feb. 22, 2021 decision by the Blythewood Town Council to hire MPA Strategies instead of the Blythewood Chamber of Commerce to provide marketing and grant writing services for the Town. Up for grabs was a marketing contract for about $40,000.

Ross is chairman of the Blythewood chamber.

Both MPA Strategies and the chamber responded to a Request for Proposal (RFP) issued by the Town in December, 2020. Also answering the RFP was NP Strategies, a wholly owned subsidiary of Nexsen Pruet law firm. After council determined that NP Strategies’ services were too costly, it declined to consider that firm’s response.

The Town is being represented by Nexsen Pruet law firm in both the complaint filed by MPA against the Town and the countersuit the Town filed against MPA.  

In addition to MPA Strategies’ FOI complaint, Dickey announced last month that the marketing firm plans to bring another legal action against Franklin and the Town for defamation and breach of contract.

The Town’s legal costs for the ongoing lawsuits between MPA and the Town currently stand at a little more than $90,000 and continue to increase. Council has proposed that the budget for outside legal expenses be amended to $145,000 which, Williamson said last month, should be sufficient until the end of this fiscal year, June 30 2022.

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