Asked to review alleged misconduct, the Langley Ethics Training and Advisory Board cleared one of its own, Monica Guzman, of wrongdoing.
The ethics board announced its finding Monday during its monthly meeting.
Langley Councilman Burt Beusch claimed Guzman acted inappropriately when she publicly accused him of being a Donald Trump supporter.
Beusch’s claim stemmed from a letter to the editor written by Guzman and published in the Oct. 18 edition of The South Whidbey Record. In her letter, Guzman also declared her political affiliation.
The ethics board determined that Guzman has a right to voice her opinion in a public forum.
“… it is the opinion of the Langley Ethics Training and Advisory Board that no ethical misconduct occurred as a result of Ms. Guzman’s use of the letter to express her thoughts publicly in any manner and setting she desired,” said Bob Frause, ethics board chairman.
Because the complaint involved Guzman, she agreed to recuse herself temporarily from the investigation. She also recused herself from participation in three other cases the Ethics Board deliberated on.
Frause said she was asked to step away from all of the cases being reviewed so the merits of the board’s decisions regarding other issues weren’t thrown into doubt.
Guzman said she never intended to resign as a result of the accusations, something Beusch suggested in his complaint.
“I’m asking you look into this matter and seriously consider if Ms. Guzman’s damaging letter is representative of somebody who should continue to serve on the Ethics Committee,” Beusch wrote.
Guzman did, however, offer an apology for not stating in her letter that she was writing as a private citizen.
Her letter to the editor didn’t state she was a member of the ethics board, nor did it mention she was speaking on her own behalf.
Beusch had suggested there might be ethical misconduct in her lack of disclosure, according to ethics board documents. However, no section of the ethics code of conduct was cited in the advisory request.
“… It is the ethics board’s opinion that there was no intentional ethical wrongdoing, and thus prefers to accept Ms. Guzman’s publicly stated apology, regarding her oversight in not declaring that her comments were made as a private citizen and not as a member of the ethics board,” Frause said during the meeting.
In her letter, Guzman accused Beusch of being a Trump supporter by quoting statements Beusch made in a news story as well as an email he sent Langley Mayor Tim Callison this past November, prior to his appointment to the city council.
Beusch stated in a Oct. 28 Record article that, as an American, he feels responsible to support the president, but that it’s difficult to support the administration’s decisions and performance.
The letter to Callison stated comparisons at the time between Trump and Adolf Hitler was a stretch.
Beusch, who was at the time seeking reelection to the Langley city council, said Guzman took his comments out of context and that she drew false conclusions while he ran for office. He described Guzman’s letter as “completely inaccurate” and “damaging.”
Guzman described the charge against her as “pretty damaging.”
Beusch lost the election against incoming city councilwoman Christy Korrow after Korrow retrieved 77.19 percent of the votes.