“My personal preference is that (the statements by Sheriff Ken Fries and County Councilman Paul Moss) should be public, but the ordinance (establishing the commission) suggests that (they) can remain confidential unless the parties release them or the committee votes to have a public hearing,” commission member Tom Hardin said.
And that decision wouldn't be made until Sept. 7, when the three-member commission meets to discuss the details surrounding Moss' phone call to Fries after the early-morning stop on Dupont Road.
Moss has said he was stopped – possibly because he was swerving while texting – and called Fries to expedite a resolution to the stop, not to seek special treatment. The officer at the scene smelled alcohol in Moss' car, but the councilman attributed that to the presence of his daughter and several of her friends, whom he was driving home from a bar at their request.
Moss said he had not been drinking for hours but refused to take a field sobriety test for fear it would be inaccurate. He agreed to be tested at the jail, but said he called Fries when his passengers became agitated by delays at the scene.
Fries, meanwhile, has said he offered no special treatment but merely instructed his officer to use his discretion.
Moss said his statement, prepared in conjunction with attorney Tim Pape, will be released at some point, possibly at the Sept. 7 hearing. But Moss said the statement includes few new details, other than to question the commission's authority over cases involving elected officials.
Fries, who has consulted with attorney Don Swanson, has suggested a similar opinion of the committee's jurisdiction but has said his statement will clear him of showing any favoritism.
He would not say when his statement might be released, but "my attorney plans to be there on the 7th."
The county may seek the state public-access counselor's opinion as to whether the statements should be released, Hardin said.
The ethics complaint against Moss and Fries was filed in June by Philip Pease, a former county employee. The commission voted 2-1 in July to request written responses from Moss and Fries.