Unified Government Commissioner Tarence Maddox publicly censured for violations of UG ethic codes

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - Unified Government Commissioner Tarence Maddox is receiving a public censure for ethics code violations.

41 Action News has learned it is the first public censure of an employee or elected official since the UG added the option to its ethics code in 2009.

The public censure, issued by Legislative Auditor Thomas Wiss, came at the recommendation of Ethics Administrator Ruth Benien. The four-page memorandum lists 10 different issues and complaints that have surfaced since Maddox became the District 4 commissioner in 2011.

Legislative Auditor Thomas Wiss discussed the public censure with Maddox by phone on Wednesday.

"He denied a few of the things and accepted some responsibility, " Wiss said. "But overall, he offered conspiracy theories that everyone was out to get him."

Last month, 41 Action News broke the story of Maddox's arrest outside LEGOLAND in Kansas City, Mo., and later was the first to obtain surveillance video of the incident.

41 Action News also uncovered previous arrests in Maddox's past, along with dashcam video of a January, 2012 traffic stop in Kansas City, Kan., which included threatening comments and references to his elected position.


In a separate police report, an officer pulled over Maddox for speeding and stop sign violations. According to the officer, Maddox identified himself as a UG commissioner and said he would "go up to legal and get them taken care of."

The ethics administrator said Maddox did contact the UG Legal Department, which refused to "fix" any of the tickets.

The public censure mentions those incidents, but also details other allegations.

Some of those include:

• Personalized license tags on Maddox's vehicles that reference his commissioner position

• Attending a visitation for a deceased student and advising the family that he was going to hold a fundraiser on March 24, 2012. According to the complaint, the family never received any money from the memorial

• Donating more than $25 to the campaign of a UG mayoral candidate and publicly endorsing a candidate

In February, the KCK police chief even felt compelled to send an email to the UG Legal Department about Maddox's behavior. According to the complaint, Maddox was upset that his vehicle had been towed.

"(Maddox) threatened a tow company employee, in an effort to get out of paying for the tow storage, by stating, ‘I am a Commissioner' and indicating he would use his position to affect the tow contract between the UG and the company," the public censure stated.

The Ethics Commission unanimously voted on the public censure last Thursday. Wiss said other complaints came flooding in after the recent news stories.

According the document, the ethics administrator and legislative auditor met with Maddox in March to discuss some of the concerns and remind him of the ethics code pertaining to "prestige of office" and conflicts of interest.

"Commissioner Maddox appeared to have no respect for the UG Ethics Code or its requirements," the censure read. "He said the ethics training was just a joke, and stated that the people that enforced the ethics code were just 'nitpickers.'"

The public censure, hand-delivered to Maddox, prohibits the commissioner from using his name or title for his own private purposes, prohibits having private vehicle license tags that represent himself as a UG commissioner and prohibits Maddox from attempting to use the UG Legal Department for assistance or representation in his own personal matters.

Wiss said Maddox informed him that he had already changed his vehicle tags.

The public censure also requires Maddox to attend a new ethics training class within 60 days.

"The ethics commission works as an unaffiliated, politically independent, third-party board to help ensure good government," read a statement from Mayor Mark Holland. "They have reviewed the facts in this case and made their ruling. As Mayor, I accept the work of our ethics commission and legislative auditor."

Ryan Kath can be reached at ryan.kath@kshb.com. You can also follow him on Twitter or connect on Facebook.

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