County leaders address conflict of interest concerns

From left, Commissioner Eddie Jones and Scott Darnell

MCCRACKEN COUNTY, KY — Is it a conflict of interest? That’s the question being asked about McCracken County Commissioner Eddie Jones and the county’s new economic development consultant, Scott Darnell.

Jones didn’t tell all of the commissioners about his previous legal work for Darnell. Darnell used to work for Paducah Economic Development. When PED ended his contract, he asked Jones — who is a lawyer — for help writing something up.

Jones wrote two letters for Darnell in support of him staying with PED. You can read them here. That happened before Jones was elected.

Should Jones have told the commissioners about that before they voted to hire Darnell on Jan. 14?

“I guess Commissioner Parker said he didn’t realize I had written those letters. It didn’t matter. When I showed him the letters, he said he didn’t care,” Jones said.

Parker said over the phone that he thinks Jones should’ve said something even if it didn’t change his mind.

Commissioner Bill Bartleman

Commissioner Bill Bartleman and Judge Executive Craig Clymer said they both knew of the working relationship, but not the details.

“I told the guys now that: look, we are going to have to be ultra vigilant about anything we do, because we have people that are watching that will take whatever we do, and it can be put in a bad light,” Clymer said.

Jones admits it was more than just legal work. “He did make a $250 contribution to my campaign, which is about 1.3 percent of what I spent on my campaign,” he said.

Commissioner Jeff Parker

As for the legal work, McCracken County Attorney Sam Clymer said Jones was not legally required to disclose this information.

I sat down with the judge executive to talk about how this looks for the county with Jones and himself being former partners at the same law firm, Jones doing work for Darnell, and and the county attorney being the judge executive’s son.

“We are not shady guys going around hiding behind walls and whispering,” Clymer said. “We are open and honest about everything. My son is the county attorney. He worked hard to become the county attorney.”

Judge Executive Craig Clymer

Clymer said he hopes people trust that he wants what is best for the county. He’s been on the job for just over a month.

He also spoke highly of Darnell and wrote a letter to PED to keep him on the board before he was elected judge executive.

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