The Montgomery County ethics commission has decided not to consider a complaint that one of the persons who selected Frank Orifici for a top job in the Department of Liquor Control had a conflict of interest because he did business with Orfici.
The complaint was brought by Irwin Feldman, an applicant for the deputy director's job that Orifici got. Feldman charged that radio station executive Pierre Eaton, who interviewed Orifici for the merit job, received cases of Schenley liquor from Orifici when Orifici was a salesman to the county for Schenley Industries Inc., a New York-based liquor firm.
In return, Schenley would get air time for commercials on WINX, Eaton's radio station, according to both Eaton and Orifici.
The appointment of Orifici as deputy director of the department that controls all liquor sales in the county has resulted in a series of charges by disappointed job applicants that he got the job because he is the nephew by marriage of Charles Gilchrist's adviser on the liquor agency. Buscher, a former executive for Schenley, pleaded quilty in West Virginia to illegally inducing state officials to buy Schenley liquor and was fined $4,000.
The ethics commission, a six-member board that considers alleged violations of the county ethics law for public employes, decided Thursday night that Eaton, who is chairman of the county's liquor advisory board, was not a public employe when he interviewed Orfici and that consequently the commission lacked jurisdiction over Feldman's complaint.
If the commission had decided to hear the complaint the commission could have contacted the state attorney's office if it had found that there appeared to be violations of the county's conflict-of-interest laws.
That law states that "no public employe with an interest, financial or otherwise," shall represent persons in their dealings with the county.
The ethics commission also decided that it lacked jurisdiction over an amendment to Feldman's complaint, charging that Gilchrist's aide, Gerry Evans, attended a meeting before Orifici was interviewed at which Eaton stated that he would like Orifici to get the deputy director's job. Evans then appointed Eaton to be on the interview committee.
The ethics committee decided not to consider that complaint because "it was a slim allegation," according to Deputy County Attorney Vic Frederick, who advised the ethics commission that it did not have jurisdiction over the complaint. "The ethics commission doesn't have anything to do with the merit system," Frederick said.
Feldman said yesterday he was "not surprised" by the commission's refusal to consider his complaint, and that he may bring his case to Circuit Court.