This information has personal ramifications for City Councilor Vernon Brown who is employed by SDN Communications. Although they shared an employment relationship, working at the same company, they did not work in the same departments. Whitsell was in Finance and Brown was in Marketing. Brown had no managerial oversight over Whitsell at SDN Communications.
Here are the facts as related to me by Councilor Vernon Brown:
- The Council was having trouble filling the Audit Committee position because it was a brand new board. Councilor Brown asked Brad Whitsell if he had an interest because his resume met the qualifications. Whitsell expressed an interest in serving on this volunteer board and Councilor Brown subsequently forwarded his name for consideration. Councilor Brown abstained from voting on his appointment and re-appointment to the Audit Committee.
- Councilor Brown did not serve as a council representative on the Internal Audit Committee because of their employment relationship.
- Brad Whitsell received high marks from committee members for his work on the Audit Committee in setting up internal controls for city government.
- It was communicated to Mr. Whitsell, through his attorneys, that he should immediately resign from the Internal Audit Committee at the City. He did not do that and Councilor Brown stated he could not jeopardize the investigation by going public with the information.
- Volunteers who are appointed and serve on the Internal Audit Committee do not have access or touch city dollars. Their work is related to process and procedure audit and review.
- Investigators knew about Mr. Whitsell's voluntary role on the committee and knew no city dollars were at risk.
This was a highly confidential investigation for SDN Communications and a personnel issue that required confidentiality until an investigation was completed. His employment with SDN Communications is very separate and distinct from his public role as a city councilor.
The facts are the facts. Councilor Brown understood what conflict of interest meant with respect to his personal employment relationship and his role as a city councilor and abstained from any formal or official actions regarding Whitsell's appointment or service on the Internal Audit Committee.
Vernon Brown has served the city of Sioux Falls as a city councilor for almost 8 years. Any comments or innuendo regarding these charges related to SDN Communications and his employment relationship to the accountant that infers or taints his public service is unjust and plain unfair.