MALONE — Franklin County may have a possible conflict of interest involving a newly elected legislator, but there is no ethics board in place to make a determination.
Dr. Carl Sherwin was under contract as the County Jail physician and supervised his wife, Barbara, a nurse practitioner, who carried out the duties on his behalf, working with jail nurses on inmates’ daily care.
Dr. Sherwin, a Malone Democrat, was elected to the District 4 seat on the County Legislature on Nov. 5, 2013, and was sworn in Jan. 2.
One of his first acts as a legislator that day was to sponsor a resolution to appoint a new jail physician, a contract that went to Dr. Dean Chapman at a monthly amount of $3,000.
Chapman has since subcontracted with Mrs. Sherwin to carry out the same duties at the jail that she was performing under her husband’s contract.
Section E of Franklin County Ethics Law, adopted in 1970, states a member of the Board of Legislators and any county officer or employee who participates in the discussion or gives official opinion to the County Legislature on any legislation before the board “shall publicly disclose on the official record the nature and extent of any direct or indirect financial or other private interest he has in such legislation.”
When the vote came for Chapman’s appointment, the County Legislature passed the resolution unanimously.
Dr. Sherwin said last week he didn’t realize he may have acted in error in sponsoring the resolution and not disclosing a possible conflict of interest until he learned that the Press-Republican had filed a Freedom of Information request for Chapman’s employment contract and questioned the circumstances of the hiring.
He said he isn’t sure if the county should void the jail-physician contract now, “but we probably should and go out for bids.”