Jefferson County Commissioner Bullers Cleared in Ethics Probe

BROOKVILLE, Pa. (EYT) — The state Ethics Commission recently ruled that Jefferson County Commissioner Herb Bullers did not violate the Pennsylvania Ethics Act when the commissioners used ServPro, a company owned by Bullers, to stop a waterline break and clean up water damage in the County Courthouse in February 2016.

“We’ve known for several months that there was no violation, but we had to wait for the state to issue its written order,” Bullers said. “We’re glad it worked out the way it did because we believed nothing wrong had been done.”

“We had actually discussed such a scenario after I took office so we would be prepared for it if it did happen,” Bullers said. “It’d be good for people to come in and discuss things before they file such a complaint.”

The announcement was made at Monday’s Jefferson County Commissioners meeting.

According to previously-published reports, the waterline break occurred in the evening hours Saturday, February 13, after a valve on the heating system froze.

In a statement issued and signed by commissioners Jack Matson and Jeff Pisarcik said, “This ruling confirms what we have said all along – that we, as your County Commissioners, followed Pennsylvania law and fulfilled our obligations to Jefferson County residents.”

“More than one year ago, at our board meeting on March 22, 2016, a citizen voiced his concern about an emergency decision that was made by the County, by and through Commissioners Matson and Pisarcik, to prevent a water leak from transforming into a catastrophic situation at our County Courthouse.”

“The leak, if not responded to in an expeditious manner, would have caused significant damage to the Courthouse, critical records and offices utilized by the public on a daily basis.”

“However, because of swift decision by Commissioners Matson and Pisarcik to hire ServPro to expeditiously respond to, stop and clean the active waterline break, the damage to the our Courthouse was minimized and County business was not interrupted the following week. A disastrous event was avoided.”

The statement went on to say that “The Ethics Commission’s ruling affirms that the County took appropriate steps to safeguard our Courthouse to ensure its uninterrupted operation and continued access by the public.

“As we have stated throughout the this matter, our actions were taken in a conscientious manner to protect the ongoing interests of Jefferson County and all County residents –  interests that we were elected to maintain and promote.””

The statement also addressed what the Commissioners termed an unsupported complaint.

“We respect the voices and concerns of all County residents. The only concern voiced with ServPro in this instance, however, was that an owner of ServPro, Herbert Bullers, was elected by the voters of Jefferson County to serve as one of your County Commissioners.”

“In this instance, the concern transformed into an unsubstantiated conclusion before the citizen fully understood the facts and circumstances of the situation. As a result, an unsupported complaint was filed with the Ethics Commission.”

“As is customary and required of all complaints made to the Ethics Commission – whether substantiated or not – the Ethics Commission commenced a detailed inquiry and investigation.”

“To reach a conclusion – one that is substantiated and based upon facts and law – the County was required to expend substantial time and resources to respond to the complaint.”

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