And reveals a major flaw in the Commission itself in the process:
Les Merritt, a former state auditor, says he will step down from the North Carolina State Ethics Commission on Friday after WRAL News raised questions about whether his service as a contractor at the Department of Health and Human Services creates a conflict with his duties as a government watchdog.
Merritt said he had not thought about the possibility of a conflict until contacted by WRAL News.
Therein lies the problem. If the Commission can't even recognize a glaring conflict of interest from one of its own members, their ability to detect ethical conflicts in others is seriously in doubt. And this comment raises even more questions:
Merritt took his seat as an ethics commission member on Jan. 1. He signed a contract on May 13 to serve as chief financial officer for the state Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services. Merritt pointed out that the contract is actually between DHHS and his accounting firm. But, he said, the public may have a hard time making that distinction.
Again, the Ethics Commission itself is the one who should be examining that "distinction", of which there really isn't one. You are working for a state agency, and also performing oversight of state agencies, and that includes yourself. Ergo, conflict.