Local Politics

Wake commissioner denies conflict of interest

Posted September 15, 2008

— Wake County Commissioner Kenn Gardner defended himself Monday against allegations that he used his position to advance a project on which his company worked.

Gardner's architectural firm was providing services to the Triangle Aquatics Center, or TAC, in Cary when he voted against a plan that would have provided money to a competing plan for swimming facilities in the town.

"I want to first emphasize that I have never misused my office as a public official," Gardner said at a Monday meeting. "These attacks are personal as well as political. I have been unable to respond at the direction of my attorney."

Commissioner Betty Lou Ward said Gardner denied having a financial interest in issues related to the TAC project when it was before the board.

"It does bring up ethical questions," Ward said. "He would have been better off to recuse himself from the subject matter and just gone on."

Gardner sued TAC last year, seeking nearly $400,000 for the time he spent designing the building. He recently settled with the center for $25,000.

TAC President Michael Curran said Gardner was one of several founding members who was supposed to be volunteering their time on the project.

"We're angry. We're upset," Curran said. "There was never a time, either in writing or verbally, (where) we expected Mr. Gardner to be paid. We were very surprised when we saw the lawsuit."

Gardner apologized Monday for any misunderstanding.

TAC has countersued Gardner, alleging his work was substandard.


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  • Tax Man Sep 16, 2008

    A resignation would be appropriate here - otherwise I suggest Colon Willoughby take a good look at this conduct and take appropriate action in the criminal courts.

  • Mommyoftwo Sep 16, 2008

    Is anyone surprised by this? He voted against a competitor and told everyone he had no interest in teh project? How is that misconstrued??

    But the sad part is that nothing will happen to him. He will still be a commissioner and he will still do these things and hopefully he just won't get re-elected.

  • wralcom2 Sep 15, 2008

    Mr. Gardner can say anything he likes, but the record is clear. I'm sure there are plenty of people who would like to personally and politically attack him, but in this case it is not they, but he who is at fault.

  • whatusay Sep 15, 2008

    Why do you think politicians are wealthy? Because they are so easily corrupted by the smell of money. He should never be present for a vote on any issue that could directly help or hurt his personal business. To do so is wrong and a conflict of interest.

  • ridgerunner Sep 15, 2008

    What is the point of being a commissioner if you cannot make big bucks from it?