Ethics complaint against San Antonio councilman moves forward

SAN ANTONIO – A local attorney’s complaint that San Antonio City Councilman Marc Whyte (D10) abused his position to “interfere” in a private custody matter is moving ahead to the Ethics Review Board.

Martin Phipps filed his complaint against Whyte on May 21, claiming the councilman had used his position to “dispatch” San Antonio police officers and Bexar County sheriff’s deputies to Phipps’ home on April 26 to try to remove a child.

Phipps accused the first-term councilman of trying to help his wife, an attorney who had represented Phipps’ ex-wife, in an ongoing custody matter.

READ MORE: Marc Whyte accused of abusing his power; councilman says police were already involved in incident at attorney’s home

Whyte has characterized his wife’s relationship with Phipps’ ex as “friends” and said he was worried about the child’s safety after his wife sent him messages showing a conversation between a child in Phipps’ home and Phipps’ ex-wife.

Phipps’ specific accusations against Whyte include a conflict of interest, using his position to unfairly advance private interests, using the prestige of his position, and taking up public resources.

An outside attorney reviewed Phipps’ complaint and has allowed most of it to be considered before the Ethics Review Board, City of San Antonio spokesman Brian Chasnoff confirmed. Only a portion that alleges a conflict of interest on behalf of an “outside client” was blocked.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Whyte has 10 business days from Phipps’ original complaint to file a rebuttal. The councilman told KSAT he will likely do that next week.

A second round of response and rebuttals could happen after that. The Ethics Review Board, which is comprised of 11 council and mayor-appointed members, could call a hearing, though it’s not guaranteed.

However, unless Whyte asks for more time, the board must issue a written opinion within 90 days of the original complaint, either dismissing the claims or finding a violation.

If it’s the latter, according to the ethics code, the board will impose sanctions, recommend criminal prosecution or civil remedies, or possibly even state why no action is recommended.

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