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Ethics Review Commission authorizes complaint against Don Pitts

Friday, October 13, 2017 by Jack Craver

On Wednesday, the Ethics Review Commission voted to authorize a complaint against Don Pitts, the former head of the city’s Music and Entertainment Division, for failing to show for a commission meeting in May where he was expected as a witness. The commission, exercising its relatively new subpoena power, had requested Pitts’ testimony as part of an investigation into alleged misconduct by one of his former employees, Ashley Buchanan. The Office of the City Auditor accused Buchanan of filing a fraudulent expense report in order to get paid $2,500 for work that her boyfriend never did. On Wednesday, members of the commission agreed that it was important for the body to send a message that it would enforce its subpoenas and voiced skepticism of Pitts’ excuse for missing the meeting. According to commissioners, Pitts was served with the subpoena two weeks prior to the hearing but did not tell the commission he wouldn’t make it until the day of the hearing, saying that he was attending to a family member at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. “It’s just a tad cavalier,” said Commissioner Donna Beth McCormick, who reasoned that he probably would have known about a trip to a hospital several hours away. Chair Peter Einhorn similarly said that the commission had to “lay down a marker” to compel witnesses to obey subpoenas. In an email to the Austin Monitor, Tim Flocos, an attorney for Pitts, said that he had informed the commission in writing about Pitts’ inability to make the meeting. “The Commission never replied or sought to reschedule,” he said. Pitts could be fined up to $500 for the violation.

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