Email Exchange with E&E About Sarratt Ethics Complaints

Email Exchange with E&E About Sarratt Ethics Complaints

Announcement Date: August 25, 2016

Below is an email exchange between Doug Rehman, K4AC, and the Ethics and Elections Committee (E&E). The black text is the original email from E&E to Doug and the red text is Doug’s reply to E&E.

Replies/Questions inline in red

Doug
K4AC

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From: Dale Williams 
Sent: Thursday, August 25, 2016 10:30 AM
To: Doug Rehman 
Cc: Rod Blocksome ; Olson Kent (KA0LDG) 
Subject: Ethics Complain against Greg Sarratt

Doug, I have received your complaint and the information you provided with respect to Southeastern Division Director candidate Greg Sarratt, W4OZK, and I have conferred with the other two members of the Elections and Ethics Committee, Rod Blocksome KØDAS and Kent Olson KAØLDG , about what you have provided.  The Committee has decided that it will investigate the facts that you have raised in detail.  However, we are doing so only in deference to a fellow member of the Board.  This is inappropriate. An investigation into an ethics complaint should occur regardless of whether or not the maker of the complaint is on the Board. A preliminary review of the complaint leads us to conclude that you have not presented enough facts to justify disqualification of the candidate and your complaint is untimely.  We will not, because we can’t, complete the investigation prior to tomorrow’s deadline for finding candidates qualified to run for election.  That is, as you yourself have noted recently, not a deadline that we can ignore.  So as it stands now, Greg Sarratt will be found qualified to run for election.

From the attached “TIMETABLE FOR ARRL DIRECTOR AND VICE DIRECTOR ELECTIONS” “2016”:

“7 days after the 4th Friday in August” “September 2” “Also, deadline for protests of qualifications decisions.”

The foregoing comports with: http://www.arrl.org/arrl-rules-regulations

I was not notified until Monday evening, 8/22/2016, that I had been found qualified and that Sarratt had been found qualified. That was also the first time I had been told that Sarratt had actually filed.

Please explain why you claim the “complaint is untimely” when the deadline in the R&R is 9/2/2016?

Here is why we are taking this position:

  1. The complaint is untimely in the extreme.  This requires explanation—see above; please explain. All of the information that you have provided was known or knowable long before now.  Again, please explain how I could have known that Sarratt was a candidate when I was not told until Monday that he was a candidate? Please explain how it is germane when I learned the information in the complaint when the period to file a complaint is open until 9/2/2016? Please present the proof that I had and knowledge that Sarratt’s website is hosted by REDACTED prior to this week—I will give you a hint in looking for that proof, it doesn’t exist because I had no knowledge until this week. You provided this material after the deadline, last Monday, when the candidates had to be notified who is running in each Division.  Your assertion in this sentence is flatly wrong; that was not the deadline. Tomorrow is the deadline for final eligibility determinations.  Those two deadlines are in conflict but even ignoring the first, we cannot complete a fair investigation of your complaint in the time available. I do not follow this. A candidate can be disqualified at any time, not just prior to this Friday. That has happened in the past when a candidate failed to follow strict requirements set out by E&E for his retraction of false material in the middle of the campaign; he was removed from the election. You have until the ballots are opened to disqualify a candidate, and arguably even after that.
  1. Your first complaint against Greg Sarratt is that you “have heard rumors” that Sarratt has approached vendors at a convention and solicited campaign contributions from them.  You do not identify the source of these “rumors” and who the vendors are other than REDACTED.  We will not be investigating rumors, nor vague accusations like this. That is not the accusation, that is why I began investigating his website.
  1. With respect to REDACTED, your allegation is that REDACTED hosted Sarratt’s web site.  You allege that this is an in-kind “campaign contribution”.  You don’t, however, prove that this hosting was a donation.  It could have been something that Sarratt paid for and in any event you do not establish the value of the hosting, which could be and in all likelihood was nominal. It is not my job to prove that the hosting is an in-kind contribution. I have identified the relationship between Sarratt and REDACTED. REDACTED is not a web hosting company as far as I can tell so it is reasonable that they have provided the hosting as a courtesy to Sarratt with no intentions of any sort on their part. For Sarratt’s part, accepting the hosting while running for Division Director (not to mention while sitting as a Director…) is acceptance of an in-kind donation whether REDACTED intended it to be or not.

So if amateur retailer WhoCaresWhatName printed a few hundred B&W campaign flyers for me, that’s ok with E&E since it is only “nominal”? How do you think the competitors of WhoCaresWhatName would feel about Directors that accepted “nominal” campaign contributions? How do you think that might play into the competitors’ decisions concerning advertising with the ARRL?  Maybe we should ask REDACTED how they feel about this? There is no place in campaign ethics for the word “nominal” and introducing it creates situational ethics which everyone knows is really no ethics. I’ll bet our members and our advertisers would agree with the foregoing.

Since you have not refuted that there was no mention of REDACTED on line 4C of Sarratt’s questionnaire, that is obviously correct. His failure to disclose a relationship with an amateur radio retailer is a fatal omission on his questionnaire. It matters not whether REDACTED is an ARRL advertiser—REDACTED is the REDACTED retailer of REDACTED in the United States and our advertisers like REDACTED would certainly tell you that they don’t want Directors or potential Directors receiving contributions from REDACTED.

Please explain why this material omission is not disqualifying of Sarratt?

In the case of Mike Lee you went to tortured extremes to craft conditions on his activities in what I can only imagine you believe would avoid the slightest ethical conflict. Yet in this case, you seem to be going to tortured extremes to avoid seeing Sarratt’s ethical violation.

Gentlemen, it is YOUR responsibility to run this to ground, not mine.

  1. Finally, having checked with Tom Gallagher about this, we have found that REDACTED is not an ARRL advertiser and has not been for almost ten years.  We have no commercial connection with REDACTED.  Even if REDACTED did host the web site for Sarratt free and even if that had more than nominal value, REDACTED is not an ARRL vendor, supplier or advertiser and there is no clear violation of any ethical obligation that Sarratt had to either report it or decline the alleged contribution. See #3—Again, let’s email REDACTED and get their take on this! {Note: E&E’s allegation that the vendor has no commercial connection with the ARRL is actually false—the vendor sells ARRL books and materials.}
  1. You have grossly misstated our correspondence of August 23 in your repeated characterizations of what constitutes “truly unethical” behavior by a candidate.  The entire point of my e-mail to you in which I used that term was to note that Board Policy 2.1 created no precise policy that can be stated with respect to a candidate’s solicitation or receiving monetary or in kind contributions from what you referred to as “an amateur radio vendor”.  The issues are fact-based and have to be resolved on a case-by-case basis. I did note that in my view, “using one’s position with the ARRL to solicit or accept a donation or services from an ARRL vendor, supplier or advertiser is truly unethical.”  I still believe that.  But you asked a generalized question and I told you that these analyses are resolved case-by-case.  Even so, you do not allege and it does not appear true that Greg Sarratt used his position with the ARRL (he doesn’t have one) to solicit or attempt to solicit or accept a donation or services from an ARRL vendor, supplier or advertiser.  REDACTED is none of those things. There is no room for situational ethics in campaigns for Director. You have gone on the record that it is “truly unethical”. My questions did NOT include a condition of whether or not the vendor did business with the ARRL, only that they operated in the amateur radio market. I also specified a candidate for Director which includes both a sitting Director and a challenger {Again Note: E&E’s allegation that the vendor has no commercial connection with the ARRL is actually false—the vendor sells ARRL books and materials.}

So in our view, your complaint is not substantive and it is too late to adjudicate on a timely basis relative to this election.  Nevertheless, as I mentioned earlier, out of deference to a fellow Board member, we will inquire into the REDACTED web-hosting.  If we find information that justifies some action by the Committee, we will take action in due course.  Thank you for bringing this to our attention. As this is a rehash of the previous, I’ll just refer to my previous comments to address it.

One other thing, Doug: You claim that you are going to create a web site that includes these allegations. We would advise against doing that.  If you do, please understand that the E&E does not condone such an action and you will be exclusively responsible for the consequences of doing so, including any claim by Mr Sarratt that he has been harmed by it.  Furthermore, asserting claims which prove false or frivolous could trigger a complaint about you. Thank you for your concern Dale. Are you trying to tell me that when I provide the members with straight facts and allow them to reach conclusions themselves that your committee plans to take action against me?

It appears that the election in the Southeastern Division is actually going to be a referendum on Board governance, especially ethics. I can live with what I say and have said. I would hope that you feel the same way in your decisions.

For the ARRL Ethics and Elections Committee

Dale Williams WA8EFK
Chairman

73,
Doug
K4AC

On 8/29/2016, Doug sent the following additional email to E&E.

Dale:

You wrote:

“2. Your first complaint against Greg Sarratt is that you “have heard rumors” that Sarratt has approached vendors at a convention and solicited campaign contributions from them.  You do not identify the source of these “rumors” and who the vendors are other than REDACTED.  We will not be investigating rumors, nor vague accusations like this.”

After having given this statement more thought and after discussions with other members of the Board, your response is inappropriate. My ethics complaint proves that a relationship exists between Sarratt and REDACTED, one that was not disclosed—the “rumors” have been proven to have validity. Given that one instance is known, it is the duty of the Ethics and Elections Committee to make at least a minimal inquiry into what further undisclosed relationships may exist. The appropriate response by the Ethics and Elections Committee is to ask the simple question of Sarratt to identify any and all vendors of amateur radio goods and services that he has solicited and/or received monetary and/or in-kind donations from, together with identifying all monetary and in-kind donations that have been received or promised from any amateur radio vendor or the owner(s) of any amateur radio vendor.

It is the duty of the Ethics and Elections Committee to make reasonable inquiry of candidates to ensure that the impartiality of the Board does not become tainted or even have the appearance of being tainted.

73,
Doug
K4AC