It looks like Wake County school board member John Tedesco will be avoiding any potential ethics concerns by turning down gifts being solicited in his name by the Wake County Republican Party.
As noted in today's article, Tedesco said he didn't know in advance that Wake GOP Chairwoman Susan Bryant would send out the request Thursday. Tedesco said people should instead send gifts and donations to his former employer, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Triangle.
“While I appreciate their generous offer, I can’t accept it,” Tedesco said. “I know there are many other people having difficulties right now.”
But Tedesco said he'll definitely like to hear about any potential job offers he can explore.
Legally, there would have been nothing stopping him from taking any gifts.
Gary Bartlett, executive director of the state Board of Elections, said the gifts wouldn't have been a campaign donation that would have had to been reported.
Ignore the code of ethics for school employees. School board members are the employers. Focus on the code of ethics and the conflict of interest policy for board members. The only mention about gifts is that they can't be solicited for board contracts.
But groups would have raised a fuss about Tedesco taking gifts, especially from school employees and groups that do business with the school district.
“While it might not be illegal, it doesn’t exactly pass the smell test,” said Jane Pinsky, director of the non-partisan N.C. Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform.
Pinsky said she had never heard of a similar solicitation being made for any public official in North Carolina.
Jay Bryant, a spokesman for the Wake GOP, said he didn't seen any problem asking people to give gifts along with birthday cards to Tedesco.
“Public officials don’t stop being human beings,” Jay Bryant said. “This is a man who has dedicated his life to helping children. At some point, we wanted to show we loved him.”
BTW, Tedesco is sticking by his April statement that he resigned from Big Brothers Big Sisters to pursue his school board duties. He had said in March that diversity policy supporters were pressuring Big Brothers Big Sisters.