Ethics complaint was brought by WLBT.

On Friday, the Mississippi Ethics Commission issued its largest fine in state history to the City of Jackson.

The Ethics Commission is requiring the City of Jackson to pay $170,397.50 to reimburse the legal expenses for WLBT’s parent company Gray Television. It is also mandating that Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba implement accountability measures so the city does not violate the Public Records Act in the future. In addition, the city must pay $900 in a civil penalty to the state of Mississippi for violating the public records law.

The order comes after more than two years since WLBT’s reporter C.J. LeMaster made seven requests for public records to the Jackson Police Department related to comp time, crime reports, departmental memos, and more. Gray Televison filed the ethics complaint in October 2019.

The Ethics Commission held hearings between November 2020 and January 2021 where members attempted to mediate the dispute between the City of Jackson and WLBT, yet no resolution could be reached as to the city producing the documentation.

“The city’s failures constitute deliberate indifference to its obligations under the Public Records Act,” Ethic Commission Executive Director Tom Hood wrote in the order.

WLBT reported on the news on Friday, noting that this order is “one of a handful of times that the commission has required a public body to pay legal fees.”

Read the full Final Order in this matter below.

MS Ethics Commissioner re: City of Jackson by yallpolitics on Scribd