Lee County DA self-reports possible ethics violation, commission refers it to AG’s Office

Lee County DA self-reports possible ethics violation, commission refers it to AG’s Office
Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes said he self-reported the possible infraction to the commission months ago. (Source: Lee County District Attorney's Office)

LEE COUNTY, Ala. (WSFA) - Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes says he will continue to cooperate with investigators regarding a possible ethics violation.

During the commission’s April meeting, it voted to refer the reported violation to the Alabama Attorney General’s Office.

Hughes tells WSFA 12 News he self-reported the possible infraction to the commission months ago.

“I reached out to them to explain what was going on and to ask them if, in fact, what I was doing constituted a breach of any ethical standard,” Hughes said in a written statement. “They said they could not advise me, so, out of an abundance of caution, I ended the action; I was later notified the commission was conducting a review.”

The Ethics Commission can’t comment on the substance of an allegation made against a public official. Hughes did not comment on the nature of the inquiry.

Most ethics investigations are launched by complaints. The evidence from that investigation is presented to the commission during a closed door meeting, which falls under the state’s Grand Jury Secrecy Act. The vote on whether to refer the case to a prosecutor for further investigation is held during a public meeting. Commission Chair Judge Charles Price and Vice Chair Beverly Brady abstained from the vote.

“I cooperated fully and transparently, voluntarily answering every question asked, as well as providing all documentation requested,” Hughes said.

He assures the public this inquiry is not connected to any case he or his office prosecuted.

“I want to be clear that I have never, not once, knowingly violated any ethical standard in my 18 years as a prosecutor. I have always put doing what is right above all else in my career,” he explained.

Hughes instead calls this a mistake, unaware the action was a possible state ethics violation.

“The fact that I self-reported underscores my commitment to doing things the right way,” Hughes said.

The Attorney General’s Office declined to comment on the referral.

Hughes assures constituents this won't impact the daily operations at the DA's Office.

“Please know that I will continue to speak out and fight for the citizens of Lee County in order to keep our community safe," Hughes said.

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