The Alabama Ethics Commission found probable cause Wednesday to believe a Dothan-Houston County Emergency Management Agency employee, who also operates an online news site and a bail bond business, has violated the state ethics law and referred the case to the attorney general.
The ethics complaint filed earlier this year against Rickey Stokes says that he used his EMA position and equipment, including his county vehicle, for personal gain while operating his businesses.
Four commission members voted to advance the complaint to the attorney general’s office. One member recused himself from voting.
A letter Stokes received in July from Bryon Butler, an Ethics Commission senior special agent, outlined the complaint.
“You repeatedly use your EMA position and the county’s resources (equipment, time, materials and other public property under your discretion or control) while on county time to further your personal business (Rickey StokesNews.com), to include the use of county resources while off-duty to further your personal business (A-Advantage Bonding Inc.),” the letter says.
The letter, obtained by the Eagle, states that if the allegations have merit, there is a possibility the state ethics law may have been violated.
In the same letter, the agent noted that a previous ethics complaint against Stokes had been dismissed.
However, in March, the Ethics Commission “received a separate complaint containing additional evidence alleging similar activity while you continued to serve as a public employee in your capacity as a Dothan-Houston County Emergency Management Agency. The allegation is that you may have violated the Alabama Ethics Law by using your position for personal gain.”
Stokes, who did not attend Wednesday’s commission meeting in Montgomery, said: “I stand by the fact I have not broken any laws. Actually, there was a previous complaint, and in the letter informing me that a complaint was dismissed, I was notified of this complaint.”
He added, “I’m ready for the battle,” when asked about the commission’s action to send the findings to the attorney general’s office.
Among other aspects, state ethics law states “no public official or public employee shall use or cause to be used his or her official position or office to obtain personal gain for himself or herself…”
Stokes has been employed by EMA for around two years, and his current position is chief of staff. In the 1980s, he served as Houston County coroner.