Faulk responds to allegations
Elmore County Commissioner Joe Faulk sat in during the "Wake-Up Call" radio show on WTLS on Tuesday to talk about recent allegations of ethics violations. Faulk, who is in his 15th year with the commission, also discussed the highlights during his tenure.
"We had some challenges when I came in 2000. At that point we were about $2.2 million in debt. Our first order of business was to correct that. We did in a year and a half," he said. "A county with our population of right at 85,000 (is) subject to get $500,000 a year of federal funding. We've got $60 million in the last 11 years."
Faulk addressed the report that has been turned over to the State Ethics Commission and Alabama Attorney General's office about possible violations of reported reimbursements and potential misuse of commission-issued devices.
"It's more than coincidental that I'm going to serve on a commission for 15 years, go through 14 audits and not one time in 15 years has somebody said, 'Mr. Faulk, we've got a question about your miles.' Not one time in 15 years has some examiner from the state of Alabama said, 'Mr. Faulk, we've got questions about your phones.'
"But, all of a sudden last September is when we voted on the budget. I voted against it. I was very vocal. Then, Nov. 14 is when the letter comes from Chris Weller. Nobody from the Ethics Commission said anything about that letter. I learned about that letter from a gentleman over in Wetumpka that received it in the press. I asked him how he got it and he goes, 'It just dropped in my lap.' Look at the timeline. Who's being set up here? It's me. I'm totally galvanized from the rest of the commission."
Faulk responded to the accusations of ethics violations.
"Here's what happened when I got a county phone in 2000. They said, 'Mr. Faulk, this is your county phone.' I said, 'How am I supposed to use it?' They said, 'Use it for anything. It's your phone.' In 2004, we were issued computers the same way. I didn't know that there was an energy source if I don't have Wi-Fi. I don't have Wi-Fi. Nobody told me that. As soon as I realized all of this was a problem, I quit. I quit turning in mileage. I haven't turned in mileage since March. If it's a problem, I'll just spend my own miles. I don't mind doing that.
"I've turned in more miles than any commissioner than I've ever served with, but let me tell you why. I served on the Board of Directors Association of County Commissions. I'm asked continually to go down to the state house and to lobby, and I go. I served on Envision 2020 which has some kind of event just about every week, so I went. I took over as president of Central Alabama Aging Cosortium when it went through a lot of bad times, and I had practically a weekly visit with the director of the Alabama Department of Senior Services. I was glad to do that. I thought that was the right thing to do. Now, I'll just pay it out of my own pocket, since it's a problem."
Faulk stated that he gave his account to the Ethics Commission claiming that the accusation is "politically motivated."
"When I have somebody that I have a relationship with and they're in need, I'm going to help them. I'm not going to make accusations. That's how you remedy these situations. It's not (to) turn them over to the Ethics Commission unless you want somebody to get crucified, unless you want somebody to be brought down a notch, unless you want to teach somebody a lesson, so when you get into the next commission meeting, he'll keep his mouth shut. Let me tell you something, I'm (not) keeping my mouth shut. I'll support good ideas, and I'll call stupid ideas, stupid ideas.
"I was told that my case was turned over to the Attorney General for further review. I've talked to different attorneys. They say, 'We don't have anthing to do until the Attorney General decides or not whether to pick the thing up or not. I don't know where that is. I hope it never goes anywhere. It was all an orchestration to make Joe Faulk look bad."