Updated: Allegations Against Scott County Administrator Gary Shelton – Unsubstantiated
Shelton: "I hope the county can move forward."
A private investigator told a standing-room only crowd at the Scott County Board meeting Tuesday morning that recent allegations made by a county employee against Scott County Administrator Gary Shelton were unsubstantiated.
Soldo gave a general summary of her findings, saying a county employee who wasn't named brought forth a long list of allegations against Shelton, which were narrowed down to six she could investigate. She said during the course of her nearly three-month investigation that she conducted interviews with 13 people and put in more than 100 hours, which would cost the county more than $10,000.
Soldo also said, contrary to rumors, that she had been “steering the ship” and that no one influenced her investigation.
Meetings involving personnel matters are not normally open to the public but this meeting was open and broadcast on the local cable channel at Shelton's request.
The six allegations included:
1. It was alleged that Shelton harassed the employee over disagreements regarding county business. Soldo said she found that while difficult conversations took place about how a department was going to operate, she said they were the kind of interactions/discussions that a person can reasonably expect to have with a manager and that nothing she found met the definition of a hostile work environment.
2. It was alleged that last July Shelton made an inappropriate comment of a sexual nature at an after-work golf outing. Soldo said she found the remark was not sexual in nature but was consistent with banter that might take place at an after-work outing.
3. It was alleged that Shelton worked in concert to investigate others and influence the county attorney and sheriff to appeal their budgets. Soldo said Shelton did not encourage them and had no role in any investigations.
4. It was alleged that Shelton was leading commissioners into situations where they might violate the law. She also found this to be unsubstantiated.
5. It was alleged that Shelton was involved in “political firestorm” that caused a commissioner to vote a certain way in the matter of removing a county employee. Soldo said she spoke to the commissioner and found that allegation to be unfounded.
6. It was alleged that Shelton did not comply with the county’s conflict of interest policy in regard to restructuring debt and improperly facilitating appointments to the Scott Carver Dakota Community Action Partnership (CAP Agency), including the position his wife currently holds. Soldo said Shelton played no role in either and that it was unsubstantiated that he had undisclosed outside business interests.
In January, Commissioners Joe Wagner of Sand Creek Township and Dave Menden of Shakopee moved to fire Shelton and there was much speculation Tuesday about whether the allegations came solely from the one county employee.
Board Chair Tom Wolf said an employee came to him with allegations and that he went to the county attorney, and they met with Shelton in November.
“At that time I was satisfied,” Wolf said. He added that the complainant went ahead because he or she thought “nothing would happen" otherwise.
Commissioner Barb Marschall called the whole situation unfortunate.
"When you have someone doing an excellent job ... and then come up with allegations, it's not only unprofessional but devious," she said.
Several members of the community also spoke and admonished commissioners.
“Scott County has a right to expect its board to focus on real issues and goals,” said Prior Lake resident Lloyd Erbaugh. He then called on Wolf, Menden and Wagner to resign.
Shelton said he thought the public had a right to know and that because of that the situation could be cathartic.
“I hope the county can move forward,” he said.