Press release from the International City/County Management Association:
The Executive Board of the International City/County Management Association recently voted to publicly censure Wanda Greene, former county manager in Buncombe County, and Amanda Stone, her successor as county manager. The Executive Board also barred Dr. Greene and Ms. Stone from future membership in ICMA. Publicly censuring and permanently barring a member is the most severe sanction available to the Executive Board.
Dr. Greene pled guilty to two counts of federal program fraud, one count of making and subscribing a federal tax return, and one count of receipt of kickbacks and bribes. Dr. Greene also entered into a financial settlement with Buncombe County agreeing to pay $750,000 so that the County could recover funds related to her personal use of county credit cards, unauthorized purchase of whole life insurance policies for herself and other employees, a $240,000 employee retention benefit she received before her retirement that was not properly approved, and benefits that accrued to her and others from a County vendor involved in a kick-back scheme.
The Executive Board determined Dr. Greene’s conduct violated Tenets 2, 3, 4, 9, 11 and 12 of the ICMA Code of Ethics, as well as the law and county policies. These Tenets pertain to a member’s ethical obligation to uphold the public trust, maintain public confidence in their position and the profession, serve the best interests of the people, improve the image of public service, handle all personnel matters on the basis of merit, and not leverage their position for personal gain.
Ms. Stone pled guilty to a federal conspiracy charge for her involvement in a bribery and kickback scheme as a result of her conduct with a county contractor that began while she was serving as the assistant county manager. The Executive Board found Ms. Stone’s conduct violated Tenets 2, 3, and 12 of the ICMA Code of Ethics, as well as the law and county policies.
The ICMA Code of Ethics states:
- Tenet 2. Affirm the dignity and worth of the services rendered by government and maintain a constructive, creative, and practical attitude toward local government affairs and a deep sense of social responsibility as a trusted public servant.
- Tenet 3. Demonstrate by word and action the highest standards of ethical conduct and integrity in all public, professional, and personal relationships in order that the member may merit the trust and respect of the elected and appointed officials, employees, and the public.
- Guideline on Public Confidence. Members should conduct themselves so as to maintain public confidence in their position and profession, the integrity of their local government, and in their responsibility to uphold the public trust.
- Tenet 4. Serve the best interests of the people.
- Tenet 9. Keep the community informed on local government affairs; encourage communication between the citizens and all local government officers; emphasize friendly and courteous service to the public; and seek to improve the quality and image of public service.
- Tenet 11. Handle all matters of personnel on the basis of merit so that fairness and impartiality govern a member’s decisions, pertaining to appointments, pay adjustments, promotions, and discipline.
- Guideline on Equal Opportunity. All decisions pertaining to appointments, pay adjustments, promotions, and discipline should prohibit discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, political affiliation, disability, age, or marital status.
It should be the members’ personal and professional responsibility to actively recruit and hire a diverse staff throughout their organizations.
- Tenet 12. Public office is a public trust. A member shall not leverage his or her position for personal gain or benefit.
- Guideline on Gifts. Members shall not directly or indirectly solicit, accept or receive any gift if it could reasonably be perceived or inferred that the gift was intended to influence them in the performance of their official duties; or if the gift was intended to serve as a reward for any official action on their part.
The term “Gift” includes but is not limited to services, travel, meals, gift cards, tickets, or other entertainment or hospitality. Gifts of money or loans from persons other than the local government jurisdiction pursuant to normal employment practices are not acceptable.
Members should not accept any gift that could undermine public confidence. De minimus gifts may be accepted in circumstances that support the execution of the member’s official duties or serve a legitimate public purpose. In those cases, the member should determine a modest maximum dollar value based on guidance from the governing body or any applicable state or local law.
The guideline is not intended to apply to normal social practices, not associated with the member’s official duties, where gifts are exchanged among friends, associates and relatives.
ICMA has a Code of Ethics for our members. As members of ICMA, Dr. Greene and Ms. Stone agreed to abide by the Code of Ethics and its enforcement when they joined ICMA. Any member who appears to have violated the Code of Ethics is investigated in a peer-review process by the Committee on Professional Conduct and violators are subject to an array of sanctions including private and public censure; membership suspension; and/or membership bar or expulsion.