St. Louis County Council ethics committee to probe colleague’s marijuana work | Joe’s St. Louis

CLAYTON — St. Louis County Councilwoman Lisa Clancy’s behind-the-scenes work for the marijuana industry in 2019 — performed while the council deliberated medical marijuana zoning laws — will be examined by her colleagues.

The council’s ethics committee is set to meet Friday to discuss the situation, first reported Monday by the Post-Dispatch.

“We’re very concerned about the allegations being made in regards to the marijuana industry and one of our council members,” committee chairman Mark Harder, R-7th District, said.

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Harder described the meeting Friday as preliminary, “just to see where we’re going to go with this.”

When asked if Clancy would be invited, Harder said, “All of the council members are welcome to attend.”

The ethics committee is composed of Harder and fellow Republican Tim Fitch, 3rd District; and two Democrats, Rita Heard Days, 1st District, and Shalonda Webb, 4th District.

The meeting, set for 1 p.m. Friday in a conference room adjacent to the council chambers at the County Government Center.

Part of the committee’s focus will be Clancy’s decision to not disclose to the council or the public that she was paid about $5,000 for her work, and then went on to cast votes on the marijuana zoning ordinance.

Clancy has twice refused to be interviewed by phone, saying she would only respond to written questions. She was offered an opportunity Tuesday to meet in person and record the interview, but has not yet responded to the offer.

Clancy, a Democrat from Maplewood, is unopposed in the Aug. 2 primary for reelection to her 5th District seat.

The information about Clancy’s marijuana work came to light through the person who hired her in 2019.

Shelby Partridge, who was working on marijuana license applications in 2019 for the Summers Compton Wells law firm, released text messages and emails to the Post-Dispatch that included exchanges between her and Clancy.

Council members Harder and Fitch also received similar information, anonymously through the mail.

The text exchanges also indicate that County Executive Sam Page objected to Clancy’s work on the marijuana applications.

On Wednesday, Page said for a second time that he doesn’t recall the incident. “That was three years ago,” he said.

As to any possible conflict of interest on Clancy’s part, Page said such issues are “between an individual council member and their private attorney.”

Clancy forwarded a letter from the law firm she was working with, dated July 11, 2019, that states the firm concluded Clancy’s work was not a conflict.

Clancy’s efforts on the marijuana applications began around June 24, 2019, and lasted until about Aug. 7.

Her work consisted of completing answers to questions that marijuana companies had to complete for their applications, according to an email sent by Clancy to Partridge.

Partridge said Clancy was recommended by Winston Calvert, who at the time was Page’s chief of staff and in a personal relationship with Partridge.

Calvert said he recalls recommending several people, Clancy among them, for the work. But he maintains those recommendations were made before he joined Page’s staff.

About one month into Clancy’s work, on July 31, 2019, Clancy told Partridge she would stop working on the applications because of Page’s reaction, her texts with Partridge indicate.

Partridge texted, “FYI, if you need to wrap this up so you can say you dropped the project, I can pick up where you left off … Sorry if you’re in a tough spot.”

Clancy replied: “I thought I was fine until Sam flipped out about it the other night.”

When Partridge then suggested that Clancy keep working on the company’s applications for dispensaries in St. Louis city and Jefferson County, Clancy replied, “That’s a good solution.”

Clancy’s financial interest statement filed with the county for the 2019 calendar year did not list any payments from the law firm. The statements are required of all elected officials and are designed to disclose sources of income and business relationships.

Parallel to Clancy’s work for the law firm, the county was in the process of creating the zoning ordinance governing marijuana growers, suppliers and dispensaries.

The bill that originally was forwarded in early July 2019 to the council by the county’s Planning Commission recommended a 300-foot buffer between marijuana locations and churches and schools — the buffer size preferred by the marijuana industry.

At one point during council deliberations, Clancy directed her assistant to check on the buffer zones in zoning ordinances for gun shops.

“I’ll be damned if we allow less than 1k (1,000) foot buffer zones for those places and churches/schools,” Clancy wrote to Partridge on Aug. 7.

Clancy and Councilwoman Kelli Dunaway, D-2nd District, voted against the bill that the council adopted on Sept. 19, 2019.

Clancy said she opposed the 1,000-foot buffer because it was a burden on those in need of medical assistance and on marijuana companies.

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