NEW: Ethics Commission to Consider NEA Leader Markey’s Potential Conflict Issues

Monday, January 07, 2019

 

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Sarah Markey is now requesting an advisory opinion from the Rhode Island Ethics Commission.

The Rhode Island Ethics Commission is scheduled Tuesday to take up the request by Sarah Markey, a member of the South Kingstown School Committee, seeking an advisory opinion regarding the Code of Ethics restricts her participation in various School Committee matters given her employment with the National Education Association of Rhode Island. 

The meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. at Ethics Commission's hearing room at 40 Foundation Street. 

As GoLocal reported in November, Markey, one of the top union leaders in Rhode Island decided following the election to bypass two legal opinions and continued to assert that she is not in violation of Rhode Island ethics laws.

But, two different law firms warned the town of South Kingstown that Sarah Markey, who is a union organizer for the National Education Association, will be in near constant conflict as a member of the town’s school committee. She earns more than $166,000 in total compensation annually as an organizer for the union, according to the website unionfacts.com.

NEA represents the majority of the faculty and staff in the South Kingstown schools.

Both the town of South Kingstown’s legal counsel and the South Kingstown school committee’s attorneys flagged the conflict issues in 2017 — when Markey was being considered for appointment to the Board due to a vacancy. In 2018, she ran and was elected, but did not disclose the potential conflict issues

In December, Markey, in one of her first actions as a school committee member, voted to oust the firm that issued the opinion

National Education Association leader and South Kingstown School Committee member Sarah Markey voted to terminate the legal counsel who had warned that her position with the labor union would cause her to recuse herself on most matters before the committee. 

On Friday night, the South Kingstown School Committee voted 5-2 to terminate any new work with the firm of Whelan, Corrente, Flanders, Kinder, and Siket, of which partner Sara Rapport had provided a legal opinion to South Kingston town solicitor in 2017 that Markey would be unable to vote on many, if not most matters before the committee.  Markey has not sought an advisory opinion from the Rhode Island Ethics Commission. 

The committee in its vote retained the counsel of Henneous, Carroll, Lombardo as interim counsel, and will “vet new counsel” with an anticipated start date in January. 

 
 

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