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Volunteer files ethics complaint against Hawkins

Tuesday, May 24, 2016 by Jo Clifton

Pinaki Ghosh, a former member of the city’s volunteer Community Technology and Telecommunications Commission, filed an official complaint with the city’s Ethics Review Commission on Monday against Rondella Hawkins, who oversees the city’s Office of Telecommunications and Regulatory Affairs, related to Hawkins’ solicitation of three free SXSW Interactive badges. As outlined in Monday’s Austin Monitor story, Hawkins requested and received the passes from festival director Hugh Forrest for herself and members of her staff. Ghosh said in his complaint that Hawkins “has created an environment of corruption within the commission. Government employees directly ask for gifts using their government emails, misuse public finance, misuse government position, have unhealthy relationship(s) with private enterprises like SXSW. The entire commission is being used,” by Hawkins, “for personal gains and, as a result, citizens are suffering.” Hawkins was not available for comment on Monday but responded to an email Sunday night, defending her actions and saying that she saved the city money by getting the passes for herself and her employees. She concluded, “I do not know of any City ordinance that I violated.” Ghosh has also filed a complaint against Lemuel Williams, chair of the technology commission. That complaint is scheduled for a hearing before the Ethics Review Commission in June.

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