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Ethics Commission Dismisses Complaints Against Local Mayor

CAVE SPRINGS (KFSM) — The state Ethics Commission has dismissed four investigations into Cave Springs Mayor Travis Lee, who was accused of using city prop...

CAVE SPRINGS (KFSM) — The state Ethics Commission has dismissed four investigations into Cave Springs Mayor Travis Lee, who was accused of using city property for personal gain and failing to reimburse the city for personal expenses.

The commission on Friday (May 18) voted unanimously — 5-0 — in dismissing each complaint.

5NEWS obtained copies of the initial complaints, which were attached to letters sent Feb. 9 from Graham Sloan, director of the Ethics Commission, to Cave Springs resident Terry Rakes.

Rakes didn’t immediately respond Tuesday (May 22) to requests for comment.

Lee said he was “thankful of the ethics commission to do a detailed investigation and report the facts.”

In one of the complaints, Rakes accused Lee of operating three vending machines without a business license. She said two vending machines were stored on city property, with one in city hall being used for personal gain.

However, the commission found that Lee obtained one vending machine at no cost from family members and filled it with drinks requested by city hall employees, according to commission documents.

The commission also noted that Lee charged employees “at or near the cost (he) paid for the drinks.”

The other two vending machines were stored at the fire department and weren’t in operation.

Another complaint said Lee used two city-owned Wi-Fi packs on a personal vacation, along with his city-issued cell phone for personal calls and failed to reimburse the city. The complaint also accused Lee of using a payroll deduction for the Wi-Fi packs for a personal discount.

Commissioners said that Lee “personally paid for the Wi-Fi packs through a payroll deduction and appeared to have used them solely for City use.”

The commission also said Lee “paid for the increased monthly bill amount” when he switched his city-owned phone to an international plan during a mission trip to Haiti.

The commission said a similar complaint from Rakes — that Lee failed to repay $391 he received via a duplicate reimbursement — was also unfounded.

Rakes also accused Lee of spending city funds to hire businesses owned by former part-time police officer Tony Collins and planning commissioner Mike Henson without getting approval from the City Council.

The commission said that while Lee “may have not complied” with a state law that prohibits public officials from contracting with a city unless approved its governing body, Henson isn’t a “prohibited recipient” under state law, with commissioners citing Arkansas Code Annotated 21-8-304(a).