Randolph County Economic Development Authority (RCEDA) Director Bryant Whaley has been reinstated after the Alabama Ethics Commission found no evidence of wrongdoing on Whaley's part.
Whaley was put on a paid leave of absence on March 16 for potential ethics violations after he was accused of "using his position to assist political candidates in primary elections and working on projects with civic organizations during typical office hours," according to RCEDA board chair Rodd Hineman, who submitted the ethics complaints to the state.
However, the state Ethics Commission found no credence to the accusations and essentially threw the case out for lack of merit. On April 23 Hineman received word that the Ethics Commission "determined that there is no behavior within the complaint that would trigger an investigation into possible violations of the Alabama Ethics Act."
In a letter to Hineman dated May 1, Assistant General Counsel Arthur O. Acosta wrote, "After a review of the information submitted and follow-up conversations with you, we have determined that there are no verifiable facts alleged that [Whaley] used his position, time or equipment to meddle in the Randolph County election."
Whaley went back to work last Tuesday (April 28) after the RCEDA board unanimously voted to reinstate him.
"Initial reaction was relief," Whaley said. "But it was a learning experience that I want to take this lesson and move forward from. I just want to mend any fences and make sure I do what's best for the county and move on."
Whaley hit the ground running last week, contacting businesses to re-engage with ongoing projects and reaching out to the local mayors to let them know he is back at his post.
"We didn't have anybody helping out with those resources," he said. "We didn't have anybody pushing the census. We didn't have anybody trying to help with any projects or anything like that. Everything was at a standstill."
Whaley said he is happy to leave the episode behind him.
"I just want to move forward and let everyone know my door is open," he said.