Tollway directors adopt new ethics rules

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by BRETT SHIPP

WFAA

Posted on January 18, 2012 at 9:31 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 18 at 9:33 PM

PLANO — The North Texas Tollway Authority Board of Directors adopted tough new ethics rules on Wednesday. The board has been under fire recently for alleged questionable business dealings.

As NTTA projects expand, so do questions about who besides the vendors stand to gain for the billions being spent. While not pointing fingers, a report released last fall suggested the board should tighten its ethics policies.

Since that time, board member David Dennison has been identified as the subject of an FBI investigation into potential conflicts of interest.

Other questions have been raised about Chairman Kenneth Barr's recommended hiring of former business and office partner David Newby. A new ethics policy adopted unanimously by the NTTA Board would make such relationships more difficult.

Directors will now be required to file conflict of interest affidavits. Not only can't they solicit or accept any benefits from vendors, they are now required to abstain from even the appearance of impropriety.

But when News 8 asked Chairman Barr if he viewed his relationship with his office partner as a violation of the new ethics rules, he responded: "No, I do not."

But former NTTA Chairman Victor Vandergriff says some past business dealings by board members were clearly problematic.

"I think if we had taken a look at those with a total eye as how the media were going to react to them, those persons might have recused themselves and fully disclosed things," he said.

The NTTA board also agreed to appoint their general counsel to act as an ethics compliance officer.

E-mail bshipp@wfaa.com

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