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Killen Councilwoman accused of ethics violation, asked to resign

KILLEN, Ala. - Tempers reached a fever pitch Monday night, in the small town of Killen. They may gather around the table like a family, but the Killen Town Council had only pointed words and accusations to share.

Councilman Ryan Blessing believes one of his colleagues practiced nepotism in asking for her mother to get a raise.

“Connie Parrish brought up that her works at the Senior Center and that she would like a raise for her mother because her mother had been filling in as the director position instead of just an assistant," said Blessing.

When Councilman Blessing and another member raised concerns about Parrish being involved in the discussion, Killen Mayor Tim Tubbs asked Parrish to recuse herself from the vote.

“I started wondering what the official stance was, so I called the ethics commission and they said for an official statement I would have to do it via email, so I sent an email asking what happened and if it was a violation," said Blessing.

The Alabama Ethics commission responded to Blessing, via email, saying a member, "may not use their official position in any manner that provides a personal gain to themselves or a member of their family" and that the criminal penalty, if found guilty., would be a Class B Felony.

“I printed out that email and gave it to all the council members here tonight along with the code from ethics that stated it was a violation. They didn’t think it was that big of a deal," said Blessing.

Blessing tried to get the mayor to take a stance on the issue, which led to the clash of words.

“I couldn’t get a straight answer from the mayor if he thought it was unethical based on all the information and the official statement,” said Blessing.

Now the councilman vows to take matters into his own hands, telling WHNT News 19 he'll file the formal complaint, which will launch a state investigation.

“I think it’d be in her [Councilwoman Parrish] best interest to resign, but I’m going to let the legal system take its course," he said.

Councilwoman Parrish declined an on-camera interview, but said she would have wanted anyone to get a raise working for the Senior Center, whether they were her family or not.

Blessing said that's wrong.

“When you break ethics laws, it says a lot about your morals and your character, and if you’re going to do that for a little bit of extra money there, what else are you going to do?” said Blessing. 

He said if they're going to sit at Killen's table, they better be above the board.

“I want to make sure everything is done right ,transparent, and following the law," said Blessing.

Killen's City Attorney said Councilwoman Parrish is allowed to continue serving, unless the Alabama Ethics Commission comes back with a ruling against her.