Powell responds to accusations

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 23, 2003

During a press conference Wednesday morning, Covington County Commissioner for District 3, Glen Powell and his attorney Riley Powell (no relation) addressed the current situation facing the commissioner regarding an inquiry by the Alabama Ethics Commission over the sale and purchase of a piece of equipment deemed surplus by the Covington County Commission.

The press conference was in response to the ethics commission’s inquiry where, according to a statement by Hugh Evans of the commission, “probable cause was found that Commissioner Powell used his position to arrange for the purchase of a tractor by his son that was deemed surplus by Covington County on an Internet auction site.” The ethics commission then referred the case to the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, Evans said.

The tractor in question was valued in excess of $30,000 according to a statement by Covington County Commission Chairman Greg White in an earlier report.

Riley Powell opened the press conference with prepared statements by both he and Glen Powell by stating that Commissioner Powell was innocent of any accusations brought forth by the ethics commission.

“First and foremost, Glen Powell is innocent of any accusations that the State of Alabama Ethics Commission has levied against him, and he maintains that innocence,” Riley Powell said. "He has done nothing wrong. He has vowed and will continue to vow to fight these accusations within the Court System as far as is necessary to clear his - and his family's - name of anything he may have done wrong."

During the conference, which was attended by area media, Powell, his wife Barbara, and supporters of Powell, but no other county officials, attorney Riley Powell only used the word "accusations," instead of charges in referring to the situation facing Commissioner Powell.

"You have heard - and will continue to hear - me use the term 'accusations' against Glen. It is important to remember this is an ongoing investigation, there are no charges against Glen." Riley Powell said. "There may not ever be charges against him."

Riley Powell also said "we're not going to discuss today any of the particular specific facts of this case, and the reason for that is because there is a continuing investigation. I don't think that today is the time or place for us to talk about the facts from our standpoint.

"Ultimately, assuming that these allegations get that far, a jury of 12 Covington County citizens may someday hear all the facts and will render a verdict based on those facts. We're not going to do anything today that might affect or jeopardize some future jury deliberations."

After addressing the issues at hand, Riley Powell addressed those gathered to express the gratitude that Commissioner Powell and his wife have for all of the support they have received during this "very difficult time." Riley Powell also said that Commissioner Powell has worked hard during the past six years for the citizens of District 3 and Covington County, and that he intends to continue to serve in his capacity as commissioner for the duration of his term, and that Commissioner Powell will do his best not to allow these accusations to interfere with his ability to perform his duties as county commissioner.

After Riley Powell concluded his statements, Commissioner Powell addressed the attendees.

"I would just like to thank you for your support. It is a trying time," he said. "Those of you that know me, know that I was raised to do right. I start my day everyday at 4:30, thanking God for the opportunities we have, and I intend to continue to do what's right. And I do appreciate all of your support."

Commissioner Powell and Attorney Riley Powell fielded some questions from reporters regarding the accusations, including if the two knew how the ethics commission became involved in the current situation.

"I don't know the answer to that. I don't think that Glen knows the answer to that at this point," Riley Powell said, but added that since it is an ongoing investigation, the answer to that question will in all likelihood be disclosed to all parties. "It is a criminal defendant's Constitutional right to confront the accusers against him. If this does become a full-fledged criminal case, we will certainly have that opportunity."

When asked if it would be business as usual at the County Commission, Commissioner Powell said, "I apologize for the inconvenience of having to deal with this type of business when we have much more pressing matters that we (County Commission) need to deal with. And we intend to address them fully, head-on."

Commissioner Powell and his attorney also addressed questions regarding continual allegations of equipment on private land and clearing private citizens' land, something that has been a topic of discussion during the duration of Powell's tenure.

"That is not something these allegations or accusations are about," Riley Powell said. "I wouldn't want Mr. Powell to say something that might create a problem with him in the future. I know that he hasn't done anything outside of his rights as a commissioner."

"I will say that our first duty to the citizens is to keep the roadways safe, and a lot of people don't agree with us when we go in and clean off ditch banks, but it is an obstruction of view and creates a safety hazard," Commissioner Powell said.