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Ethics complaints tossed by panel
State board clears two commissioners
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Forsyth County News
The state Ethics Commission has dismissed separate complaints against two members of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners.

The five-member panel heard from both Chairman Charles Laughinghouse and Commissioner David Richard during a meeting Thursday morning in Atlanta.

Forsyth County resident Jo Ann Leifeste filed a formal complaint with the ethics commission in October alleging that Laughinghouse did not disclose an in-kind contribution to fellow commissioner Jim Harrell.

The ethics commission also looked into a complaint that Richard handed out “taxpayer-funded business cards” during his unsuccessful campaign for re-election this year.

Doing so, county resident Cleve Chadwick contended, was a violation of state ethics laws.

The complaint against Richard was dismissed after he explained to the commission that the cards were given out merely as a means of contact for residents with questions.

Laughinghouse’s complaint was dismissed as quickly as Richard’s.

The chairman did not deny he had made an in-kind contribution, but said the 2006 campaign disclosure form from the county elections office did not list a provision for in-kind contributions. He said later disclosure forms did have the provision.

That was enough for Ethics Commission Chairman William Jordan.

“When you’ve got 159 filing officers across the state, you tend to get some ambiguities,” Jordan said. “Old forms, new forms and so on.”

Later on Thursday, Laughinghouse said the meeting was “one of those things that I’m glad it’s behind me.”

“I’ll be glad when this year is behind me,” he added.

Hearings for Richard and Laughinghouse were originally scheduled for October, but the meeting was cancelled due to the state’s gas crunch at the time.

According to its Web site, the commission enforces the laws under its jurisdiction through investigative proceedings and open hearings. The board’s members are appointed by the governor and the state House and Senate.

Staff Writer Jennifer Sami contributed to this report.

E-mail Frank Reddy at