CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The state Ethics Commission dismissed a complaint against a member of the Kanawha Solid Waste Authority board who was alleged to have used his position for personal gain.
Larry Bradford, executive director of the Nicholas County Solid Waste Authority, filed an ethics complaint against Greg Sayre, the state Department of Environmental Protection's appointee to the Kanawha County agency, in August.
Bradford alleged Sayre, a registered lobbyist whose clients include for-profit recycler West Virginia Cashin Recyclables, used his position on the Kanawha County agency for personal financial gain and that of his clients.
Sayre is also the executive director of the state Association of Waste Haulers and Recyclers. The association is a lobbying firm that advocates for issues dealing with for-profit waste haulers and recyclers.
The Ethics Commission dismissed the complaint Thursday.
Sayre said he had no doubts the complaint would be dismissed.
He has maintained throughout the process that he never once used his position for personal gain or to assist his clients.
He added that he has been accused many times by individuals for pushing to privatize operations at Kanawha's Slack Street recycling center.
"But in reality, that was never my preference at all," Sayre said. "I always had a strong leaning toward keeping the recycling center public."
The recycling center was privatized when the Solid Waste Authority board voted to hand over operation of the facility to West Virginia Recycling Services.
Sayre recused himself from voting on the agreement between the authority and the for-profit company.
Bradford is satisfied with the Ethics Commission's ruling, he said.
"I think the Ethics Commission did their due diligence," Bradford said. "I thought they were very thorough, and if they could have found anything to hang their hat on, they would have done it."
Bradford said he has no regrets about bringing the complaint.
"We did our part by bringing it to their attention," he said.
The Ethic Commission's Probable Cause Review Board stated, "probable cause does not exist to believe Respondent Greg Sayre violated any prohibition of the Ethics Act," in its ruling.
Although Bradford believes the Ethics Commission did its "due diligence" when investigating the matter, he still believes Sayre's position creates a perception of misconduct.
"But I respect all of the decisions that come out of the Ethics Commission," Bradford said.
Sayre is happy to have the situation resolved and plans to move on with his duties. However, he believes he could have contributed a good deal to the conversation between West Virginia Recycling Services and the authority if his "hands weren't tied" because of the ethics complaint.
"I still would have recused myself from the vote, but I think I could have added a lot to the discussion and helped the authority," Sayre said.
For example, he said he would have suggested that a concrete timetable be placed in the lease agreement concerning improvements to the recycling center.
He would have also encouraged board members to advertise for proposals from other recyclers and not deal exclusively with West Virginia Recycling Services, Sayre said.
Kanawha Solid Waste board members also hope to have a new executive director by April 1.
The announcement was made during an emergency meeting Tuesday to discuss the vacant position.
Former executive director Norm Steenstra left in September citing poor health.
The agency received 16 resumes from interested applicants.
They will interview about nine of those people and narrow the field from there, board member Rod Watkins said.
The salary will be negotiated with the individual selected, Chairwoman Kay Summers said.
The authority is also negotiating with a company to secure office space in the Lee Building at 210 Brooks Street. The 800-square-feet space would be used to house the authority's office. Meetings would also be held in the new location, Summers said.
"The office space will fit our needs perfectly," Watkins said.
The authority has been meeting in a trailer next to the Slack Street recycling center. However, the trailer is now being leased by West Virginia Recycling Services, Watkins said.
Board members hope to strike a deal on the office space by sometime in March, he added.