YANKTON, S.D. — More than half of a southeast South Dakota county’s commissioners have asked to be investigated for possible conflicts of interest in the approval of several hog confinements.
Yankton County Commissioner Ray Epp said during a commissioners meeting on Tuesday that he’s aware of concerns about his connection to the South Dakota Pork Producers Council. Epp sits on the council’s Board of Directors.
Epp said he has asked whether his involvement with the industry group poses a conflict of interest for approving local hog farms, the Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan reported .
Commissioners Todd Woods and Don Kettering made similar requests about three weeks ago, asking Yankton County State’s Attorney Rob Klimisch to request the South Dakota Attorney General’s Office open an investigation into whether they have any conflicts of interest.
The county is currently facing lawsuits filed by opponents of hog confinements that were approved earlier this fall.
The commission has only five members. Klimisch said the attorney general’s office has been contacted about the commissioners’ requests and a resolution is expected in the coming weeks.
Klimisch noted that commissioners can declare they have a conflict of interest.
“The state limits it strictly to financial gain,” he said. “They would have to look into what you’re in, where the votes would come from and where the interests lie.”
For Epp’s investigation, Klimisch said they’ll look into his votes, the Pork Producers Council and whether Epp has been compensated.
“That’s what we’re doing with Don and also Todd — seeing where all of their connections are,” he said.
Information from: Yankton Press and Dakotan, http://www.yankton.net/