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Chip Drago
This page was last updated on: July 22, 2005
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Mobile Bay Times
Mobile attorney cites
Peavy in ethics complaint

By Chip Drago
Mobile Bay Times
Mobile attorney Jim Zeigler Wednesday in Mongomery  filed an ethics complaint against Mobile City Councilman and mayoral candidate John Peavy at 2:30 p.m. in the state ethics commission office.

Zeigler alleges that Peavy, 51, committed
"multiple violations of state ethics laws."

"He and his business, Peavy
Construction Company, intentionally
sought and performed work on a city
project on which John Peavy
participated as council member,"
Zeigler charges in the complaint.

"The complaint is without merit," said Peavy. "Some of the things in it are clearly fallacious from what I've been told is in it. I think it will be dismissed easily just by looking at the documentation. It's ridiculous really. But this is what politics is about, I guess. It's starting to kick up, so we must be doing something right."

Peavy's opponents in the Aug. 23 municipal election are ex-state Sen. Ann Bedsole, former City Councilwoman Bess Rich and Mobile County Commissioner Sam Jones.

Peavy addressed the charges more fully during a press conference at City Hall Wednesday afternoon.

Peavy has reportedly filed a lawsuit against Zeigler seeking damages. Among the three counts Peavy lodges against Zeigler are defamation, outrageous conduct and abuse of process. The case has reportedly been assigned to Mobile County Circuit Presiding Judge Bob Kendall. Kendall, according to an attorney involved in the case, has scheduled a telephone conference among the lawyers for Tuesday afternoon. It is believed that Peavy's team will seek a temporary restraining order against Zeigler.

Peavy's response calls into question his judgment, according to Zeigler.

"I think he is overreacting, especially if he believes he has a strong defense to the complaint," Zeigler said. "He is going to make this into the biggest issue in the campaign. He may very well take a brief minor issue and turn it into an elongated major issue and that's not good. Instead of this lawsuit, he may have been better advised to have hired Richard Scrushy's legal team."  

Zeigler's complaint cites Section 36-25-5 of the Code of Alabama covering "Use of official position or office for personal gain. (a) No public official or public employee shall use or cause to be used his or her official position or office to obtain personal gain for himself or herself, or family member of the public employee or family member of the public official, or any business with which the person is associated unless the use and gain are otherwise specifically authorized by law. Personal gain is achieved when the public official, public employee, or a family member thereof receives, obtains, exerts control over, or otherwise converts to personal use the object constituting such personal gain."

Zeigler alleges the following occurred in violation of state law:

Zeigler asks the commission to conduct a preliminary inquiry and make an initial determination that reasonable cause exists to conduct an investigation; investigate Peavy's actions and hold a hearing on them; find probable cause that he violated state ethics laws; and forward the case to Alabama Attorney General Troy King for prosecution.

Other sections of the Alabama code that Zeigler refers to in his complaint are:

No member of any county or municipal agency, board or commission shall vote or participate in any matter in which the member of family member of the member, has any financial gain or interest.

No member or officer of … the governing bodies of the municipalities of the state and the governing boards of instrumentalities of counties and municipalities, … shall be financially interested or have any personal beneficial interest, either directly or indirectly, in the purchase of or contract for any personal property or contractual service, nor shall any person willfully make any purchase or award any contract in violation of the provisions of this article.

Zeigler, an ally of ousted state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, has been politically active in Alabama for more than 30 years. He is a former member of the Alabama Public Service Commission.

Any suggestion that he was acting in the interests of a Peavy mayoral foe was laughable, said Zeigler.

"I've been filing taxpayer lawsuits and ethics complaints for more than a quarter of a century," he said. "I'm a taxpayer advocate and I've been one for a long, long time."