FORT WAYNE – After storming out of an Allen County Ethics Commission meeting Monday, Thomas Ryan sent a brief email to the county commissioners, announcing his immediate resignation from the panel.
County officials released a copy of the resignation notice Thursday.
Although the commissioners will have to find a replacement for Ryan on the three-member ethics commission, there has been no discussion as to who or when that person will be appointed, county spokesman Michael Green said.
The ethics commission has been investigating a complaint filed by a citizen alleging that County Councilman Paul Moss and Sheriff Ken Fries violated the county’s code of ethics during a highly publicized traffic stop June 2.
Allen County sheriff’s officers pulled Moss over at 2:30 a.m. in a car that smelled of alcohol. Moss has said he had not been drinking and that the alcohol odor came from other people in the car.
Moss refused a portable breath test and then called a vacationing Fries on his cellphone. The sheriff spoke to one of his officers at the scene, and Moss was allowed to find a ride home. Moss is accused of asking for special treatment. He was not charged in the case. Moss said that he called the sheriff to “expedite” the process of getting a more reliable breath test.
Both Moss and Fries have said no favors were asked for and none was given.
The two other ethics commission members are Tom Hardin, law partner of county Republican Chairman Steve Shine, and Democratic appointee and local business owner Wendy Stein.
Ryan, a retired Allen Circuit Court judge, has consistently voted to drop the panel’s inquiry of the complaint, calling it a “witch hunt.”
After Ryan walked out of the meeting, Hardin and Stein agreed to conduct a public hearing Nov. 30 during which the ethics panel will ask Moss to appear and possibly answer questions.
Hardin said he was not surprised by Ryan’s sudden resignation.
“After what he expressed at our last meeting, no, I am not surprised,” Hardin said.
The ethics commission sees no need to postpone the public hearing, even though the commissioners have made no decision on Ryan’s replacement, Hardin said.
“It’s not optimal, but there would still be a quorum in place so the commission could still conduct its business,” Hardin said. “I don’t expect it to grind to a halt.”
The ethics commission ruled last month that Fries is not subject to the county’s ethics ordinance but instead falls under the jurisdiction of the Sheriff’s Merit Board.
Attempts to reach Ryan were unsuccessful.